A web-based edition of early seventeenth-century political poetry from manuscript sources. It brings into the public domain over 350 poems, many of which have never before been published.
Notes. This is probably the most significant of the libels penned in the wake of the English defeat at Ré. The widely copied poem focuses blame for the defeat squarely on Buckingham’s shoulders and depicts the Duke as a cynosure of all kinds of scandalous corruption. The poem also engages in a discussion of military tactics, adding its voice to a quite vibrant contemporary debate about the strategic mis-steps at Ré. At one point, the poet claims to have “lost a share” of the English blood spilt on Ré. Whether this suggests the poet took part in the campaign, or whether it implies he lost a blood relative there, is unclear. In one source, the poem is ascribed to John Heape (Bodleian MS Ashmole 38), but no historian has yet identified a “Heape” among the soldiers known to have fought at Ré. The politics of the poem are discussed at length by Bellany (“‘Raylinge Rymes’” 302-04), and more briefly by G. Hammond (149).
“Upon the Dukes Returne. In Ducem Reducem”
And art return’d againe with all thy Faults,
Thou great commaunder of the All-goe-naughts,1
And left the Isle behinde thee? Whats the matter?
Did Winter make thy chopps begin to chatter?
Could not the surging and distemper’d Seas5
Thy queasie stomach (gorg’d with sweet-meates) please?
Or did’st thou sodainly remove thy station,
Through Jealousie of Hollands supplantation?2
Or was’t for want of Wenches? Or did’st feare
The King (thou absent) durst wrong’d Bristoll3 heare?10
Or didst thou hasten (headlong) to prevent
A fruitlesse hop’d-for needfull Parliament?
All these, noe question, with a restlesse motion
Vext thy bespotted soule, as that black Potion
Tortur’d the noble Scott, whose Manes tell15
Thy swolne Ambition made his carkasse swell.4
But there’s a reason worse then these: they say
The Frenchmen beate thee, and thou ran’st away.
Can this bee true? Could not thy glorious boasts,
Before thy goeing, fright them from their coasts?20
Could not thy Titles feare them? Nor thy Lambe’s
Protection safeguard from thee those French Ramms?
Could not thy Cambridge Pupills5 zealous Praiers
(Compos’d of Brownist and Arminian6 Ayres)
Confound thy Foes? Or ells did their distraction25
Make in thy happlesse hope the helplesse fraction?
Nor could thy Parliamento-Mastix7 Vowes
Prevaile t’impose the Garland on thy browes?
Could not thy chaplaine,8 London’s Sacrifice,
Nor move, nor suffocate the destinies,30
That sends from’s paunches Altar more fumes forth
Of smoake and vapours then Landaffe is worth?
Could not thy Mothers Masses,9 nor her Crosses,
Nor Sorceries prevent these fatall losses?
Nor Regal Wishes, nor Imbraces neither,35
Nor th’Armies valour, nor all these together?
“Hence we collect: To those that wilbee vitious,
“Praie who will praie, Heaven will not bee propitious.
“God’s deafe to those that will not hear the cries
“Of their oppressed Subjects Injuries.40
“Happie successe then great attempts attends
“When those commaunds vertue and skill commends.
“Thy Sinne, Gods Justice, and the Kingdomes curse,
“Makes mee admire thy Fortunes were noe worse.
Now I have spoke enough, I know, great George,45
(If I were knowne) to make thy Rage disgorge
Its venome on mee: yet, for all this hate,
Lets (at this distance) but expostulate.
How could this Voyage have such sadd effect
Without close treacherie, or grosse neglect?50
Thou had’st a Navy Royall, that need not feare
All the French Power. This the coast could cleare
From all Invasion, and keepe back supplie;
The Isle did whollie at thy service lye.
Had every part of that small tract of land55
Been with a slender Guard and Feild-peece man’d,
Their Entrance, sure, have been impeachd a while,
Or their approch echo’d o’er all the Isle.
What! were our captaines streight’ned in commission,
That they soe landed without Prohibition?60
They durst not, but wee had (they did descrie)
A heedlesse Duke, a headlesse companie.
But, Oh! What Men or Angels can devise
T’excuse thy base ignoble cowardise,
That brunt of dangers could soe little bide,65
The very bruite10 would allwaies make thee hide:
And when the bloodie Die of Warr was throwne,
And each Mans valour should bee chiefly showne,
Was’t not a noble part, and bravely playd,
To send a shadowe11 in thy Arms array’d,70
To personate thee in the battaile, while
Thou sat’st environ’d with a cable coyle
Discharging sugar pelletts? Had it not been
More noblie done, by death, renowne to winne,
Then in an hempen cabbin plagu’d to bee75
With view of the deserved destinie?
Oh! when I thinke upon that fatall Feild
Wherein soe much brave English blood was spilld
(Wherof I lost a share) And when I call
To minde those Heroes lamentable fall,80
Rich, Brett, and Cornwall,12 with the rest, whose bones
Want ev’n a Monument of Pebble-stones,
My soule wastes into sighs, My troubled braines
To teares, but that a manly heart disdaines
Such female follie, And I hope to see85
These worthies deathes (proud France) reveng’d on thee.
But is the cause come safely home againe,
Tryumphing o’er his conquer’d countrymen,
As if such valient leaders mournfull slaughter
Were but a subject for such cowards laughter?90
Leave (upstart Greatnes) e’re it bee too late
Submitt thy self; be govern’d by the state.
For if but one yeare more thou lordst it thus,
Thou draw’st confusion on thy self and us.
Stay, stay at court then, and at Tennys play,95
Venus Pavilions15 doe befitt thee best:
Perwiggs16 with Helmetts use not to bee prest.
To o’re-run Spaine, winne Cales,17 and conquer France,
Requires a Soldier’s March, noe Courtiers daunce.100
Let valient skillfull Generalls bee chose,
That dare in blood confront their proudest Foes,
Then there’s some hope wee may repaire our losses
And make our Enemies to rue our crosses.
Three things have lost our honour (all surmise)105
Thy Trechery, Neglect, and Cowardise.
Source. BL MS Sloane 826, fols. 161v-164r
Other known sources. Rous 19; Bodleian MS Ashmole 36-37, fol. 50v; Bodleian MS Ashmole 38, p. 133; Bodleian MS Douce f.5, fol. 5v; Bodleian MS Eng. Poet c.50, fol. 27v; Bodleian MS Malone 21, fol. 56v; Bodleian MS Malone 23, p. 106; Bodleian MS Rawl. Poet. 26, fol. 79r; Bodleian MS Rawl. Poet. 160, fol. 198r; Bodleian MS Tanner 306, fol. 264r; Bodleian MS Tanner 465, fol. 98v; BL Add. MS 10309, fol. 42r; BL Add. MS 22591, fol. 315r; BL Add. MS 22959, fol. 22v; BL Add. MS 27408, fol. 146r; BL Add. MS 29492, fol. 49v; BL Add. MS 70639, fol. 70v; BL MS Sloane 826, fol. 32r; Brotherton MS Lt. q. 51, p. 207; CCRO MS CR 63/2/19, fol. 63v; PRO SP 16/85/84; Houghton MS Eng. 1278, item 14; Huntington MS HM 198, 1.44; Huntington MS HM 742, fol. 2r; Rosenbach MS 239/27, p. 54
2 Through Jealousie of Hollands supplantation: the allegation is that Buckingham feared that, in his absence, Henry Rich, Viscount Kensington and Earl of Holland, would supplant him as favourite. <back>
3 wrong’d Bristoll: John Digby, Earl of Bristol, and former ambassador to Spain. Digby had been barred from court and placed under house arrest since his return from Spain in 1624. In the Parliament of 1626, the King charged Bristol with treason for his conduct in Spain; Bristol countered by levying charges of treason against Buckingham for his actions in Spain in 1623. <back>
4 black Potion...carkasse swell: allusion to the allegation, levelled by George Eglisham in 1626, that Buckingham had poisoned James, Marquis Hamilton and King James I. “Manes” means “shade” or “ghost”, or possibly “remains”. <back>
6 Brownist and Arminian: Brownists were radical Protestant separatists; Arminians were followers of the Dutch theologian Arminius and critics of the Church of England’s Calvinist teachings on predestination. Many feared that, under Buckingham’s protection, “Arminianism” was on the rise in the English Church in the mid-1620s. <back>
8 thy chaplaine: the identity of Buckingham’s chaplain is difficult to establish. It is possible that the reference to “Landaffe” in the following lines means that the cleric intended is Theophilus Field, Bishop of Llandaff (1619-1627), a Buckingham client. <back>