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.

Oiii4 Excuse me Eliott if I heare name thee

Notes. The title of this poem alludes to the Commons’ session of 11 June 1628, in which MPs debated whether the House should formally name the Duke of Buckingham in their Remonstrance to the King as the cause of the grievances afflicting the nation. Many of the speakers listed in the poem—and some of the language and arguments attributed to them—can also be found in the surviving parliamentary diaries’ accounts of the 11 June debate (see Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.245 ff.). Some lines in the poem, however, allude to speeches made during earlier debates. The more common version of this poem does not include the final twelve lines found in our chosen source. Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 (6.245-246) prints a copy from University of Edinburgh Library MS Laing III 493, fols. 30-31, and cites another copy in Dr. Williams’s Library, London, MS R.M. 31 E. The Laing copy lacks the final twelve lines of our chosen version, but does include extra passages (of eight and six lines respectively) at two points in the middle of the poem. We have included these lines in the notes.

“Upon the nameinge of the Duke of Buckingham the Remonstrance”

Excuse me Eliott1 if I heare name thee

the tyme requires itt since fewe honest bee

and learned Selden2 for thy pregnant witt

to be then named lett itt not seeme unfitt

I shall not spare to put you two in one,


since honest Longe hath made the motion3

tis due you to the world be understood

more then Roomes Cato,4 hee who dust5 be good

When Cesar must be badd for the greate duke

feares nothinge more then the severe rebuke


tis Buckingham wee doe not feare the woord

for Cooke6 to name him now hath found record

what though that Beecher7 will their words relate

and Spencer8 take exceptions to dilate

Jordane9 who neere did sweare nowe moveth that


Hele have a bill against his Spanish hatt

hee doth not love his clothes, protests the man

was made the Dukes of an Armenian10

and doth beleeve the tother will stay fort

before he getts the place hee seekes at Court


but May11 makes mouthes, and tells you as a freind

to name the man were not to woorke your end

and why saith Mr. Bish12 I never reade

but of one namelesse and hee indeed

to hell did goe, as you shall plainly finde


in Luke the Sixt one damned of the kinde

Quoth Captaine Charles13 you are mistooke that’s flatt

his name was Dives I can tell you that

but Mr. Nicholas14 speakes uppon his word

twas those imployed, who did abuse his lord


brave Mansell15 tells them they were cowards all

Imploid to Calles and first their generall

not soe quoth Sir John Maynard16 I knowe more

and will you tell that you neere heard before

there was a forte built on a Nook of land


twas cald Pomfall17 bravely by Spaniards mand

hee at the fort as tis to many knowne

two thousand shott did make, nere hurt a stone

but they all runn away and to be shorte

bravely Wimbleton18 he then tooke the forte


Sir Edward Giles19 as angry said that hee

would have him named, as it was fitt to bee20

and Valentine21 clappinge his hand on his brest

stoutly resolves that soe hee thinks itt best

this prejudiciall judgment Kinge afords


even as Sir Elliott22 did expresse his words

but pardon pray the rime for the pretence

and take his meaninge for his little sence

for sure it was, because hee had not dyn’d

which made him that his witts hee left behind


for there from 7 till 7 came againe

wee fastinge satt, which well might tame his braine

the dreames expired the flocks are safely kept

for ever since Sir Nethersall hath slept

longe may hee sleepe and never wake againe


untill that his Bellweather hath Conquerd Spaine23

But Willy24 Diggs,25 alasse was sicke that day

his doubtfull minde could not indure the fray

And soe was Roringe Robin26 for well hee did foresee

for speakinge truth that chidden he should bee


and honest Howtham27 that some cake had gott

Cookes28 angry dogge did eate itt every Jott

when hee inraged did fall uppon his skin

fearinge leaste else hee might have bitt his shin

then holy Lawrence29 tells a heathen fable


of Jove and Junoes daughter marrigable30

and still in zeale turnes upp the white ofs eye

as if he ment to fetch them from the sky

then Viscount Slygo tells us a longe story

of the supply,31 as if he sunge John Dory32


thats not the pointe quoth Littleton33 the stoute

read but the order himselfe will see hees out

up starts Ansley34 at every turne and moved

will you condeme the D35 befort be proved

Nay saith bawlinge Dawson36 I will sacrafice


my life for him, and out of the dores hee flyes37

For Mr. Speaker38 you in danger are

and if the Dunkerks39 come they will you scare

here att the windowes they will plucke you out

if that on London bridge they keepe not scout


all that longe while satt Wentworth40 at the barr

bravely expectinge the issue of the warr

till att the last hee sawe that the report

will keepe him longer att that hungry sport

but lastly Wainsford41 the question well did frame


and valliently put in his gratious name

then little Jackson42 rored itt out well moved

as if his sides were bell mettle approved

tell mee who could say more then hee

that range the forebell att the subsidy


of pluckinge of the maske from the Kings eye

thereby to see the Kingdoms missery

But when the D43 the cause should be exprest

who could say lesse, his clapper was at rest

when Sir Andrewe Corbett44 had given him a sapp


Sir Thomas Bromley45 then threwe upp his capp

But Robin Harley46 cried soft I pray Sirs

for on this point I thinke wee ought to stay Sirs

And for Gods wisdome thinke uppon Ephestion47

whether itt be fitt to putt itt to the Question.


Source. BL MS Harley 6057, fols. 52v-53v

Other known sources. Proceedings in Parliament, 1628, 6.245-46; Bodleian MS Malone 23, p. 110; Bodleian MS Tanner 465, fol. 100v; BL Add. MS 10309, fol. 40r; BL MS Sloane 826, fol. 154v; Folger MS V.b.277, fol. 98r; Houghton MS Eng. 1278, item 13


1   Eliott: Sir John Eliot, MP for Cornwall, a leading critic of Buckingham in 1626 and 1628, and the architect of the 1628 Remonstrance. <back>

2   learned Seldon: John Selden, MP for Ludgershall, Wiltshire, lawyer and antiquarian. <back>

3   Longe hath made the motion: Walter Long, who made the motion to name Buckingham as the cause of the evils enumerated in the Remonstrance. <back>

4   Roomes Cato: M. Porcius Cato, Roman politician and leading Stoic, who fought against Julius Caesar in the civil wars. Cato committed suicide rather than be captured by Caesar. <back>

5   dust: probable scribal error; read “durst” or “darst”. <back>

6   Cooke: Sir Edward Coke, leading MP and former Lord Chief Justice under James I. <back>

7   Beecher: Sir William Beecher, MP and a Clerk of the Privy Council (and thus likely to report the speeches in the Commons to the King and Council). <back>

8   Spencer: for Richard Spencer’s speeches against naming the Duke, see Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 6.248, 266. <back>

9   Jordane: Ignatius Jordan, the notoriously Puritan MP for Exeter. None of the diarists records a Jordan speech in the 11 June debate on the naming of the Duke. <back>

10   Armenian: i.e. Arminian; a follower of the anti-Calvinist Dutch theologian Arminius. The rise of Arminianism in the English Church was one of the evils attributed to Buckingham in the Remonstrance. <back>

11   May: Sir Humphrey May, who argued against naming the Duke (see, e.g., Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4. 246). <back>

12   Mr. Bish: Edward Bysshe. <back>

13   Captaine Charles: Charles Price. One diarist’s report helps clarify the exchange between Bysshe and Price. In the report, Bysshe states that, “I think the Duke will take it for a dishonor if he be not named. I never heard of any man without a name but one, and that was the rich man in the Gospel”. Price counters, “The gentleman has mistaken his text, the man’s name was Dives” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.268). The two are alluding to the parable of Dives and Lazarus in Luke 16.19-31 (not “Luke the Sixt”). <back>

14   Mr. Nicholas: Edward Nicholas, a Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Admiralty. Nicholas spoke in defence of Buckingham on 11 June and during other debates on the charges against him. <back>

15   Mansell: Sir Robert Mansell, MP and former Vice-Admiral of the Narrow Seas. These lines refer to a speech Mansell made on 6 June 1628 during the Commons’ discussion of the failed Cadiz expedition of 1625. Mansell blamed the failure of the expedition on “error and want of judgment” in the planning, and lack of “valor in the undertaking of the business” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.160). <back>

16   Sir John Maynard: Maynard spoke on the Cadiz expedition during the debate on 6 June 1628. The details in the next seven lines mostly correspond to the diarist’s account of his speech in Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.160. <back>

17   Pomfall: i.e. Puntal. <back>

18   Wimbleton: Edward Cecil, Viscount Wimbledon, the commander of the Cadiz expedition. <back>

19   Sir Edward Giles: the diarists do not record a speech by Sir Edward Giles on 11 June. <back>

20   bee: the Laing MS copy includes an extra eight lines at this point. They run as follows:

But Onslow, as engaged, often moved

For want of other sense, to have it proved.

When Marten failed in his philosophy,

Scudamore replied, it was necessity,

The cause of these effects, which if removed


(As for his honor sake it him behooved),

Favors should come alone; so Griffith spake,

Much to no purpose, few did notice take.

(Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 6.245). The MPs named in these lines are Sir Richard Onslow, Sir Henry Marten, Sir John Scudamore and John Griffith (a client of Buckingham). <back>

21   Valentine: Benjamin Valentine. The surviving diaries do not record Valentine speaking during the 11 June debate, but these lines might refer to his widely-copied speech of 5 June in which he “protests he fears this great man has soldiers every place to cut our throats” and moved the House “to have him voted...the common enemy of the kingdom” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.125). <back>

22   Sir Elliott: variant sources read “Sir Estcourt” or “Sir Escot” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 6.245). This is Sir Giles Estcourt who, during the 11 June debate, ventured that, “We go about to tax the King’s judgment in taxing this man thus”. Sir John Eliot rebuked Estcourt and demanded he go to the bar to answer for this imputed charge against the House. Estcourt offered a face-saving explanation for his words, and an apology (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.247). <back>

23   the dreames...Conquerd Spaine: allusion to Sir Francis Nethersole’s speech of 12 April 1628, in which he told the Commons of his dream of the previous night: “Methought I saw two fair and goodly pastures. The one an enclosure, the other common. The common had a fair flock of sheep in it. The enclosure had only a goodly bellwether [‘the leading sheep of a flock’ (OED)]. I found there was a division betwixt these grounds by a great deep ditch, and a narrow, narrow bridge to join them together. I saw the bellwether hasting to the common to invite the sheep to eat with him, but the narrow bridge hindered his passage. Whereupon a poor sheep said, ‘There is no means for him to pass. Let us all lie down upon our bellies, that the bellwether may pass over us’” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 2.434-35). <back>

24   Willy: probable scribal error; read “wily”. <back>

25   Diggs: Sir Dudley Digges. <back>

26   Roringe Robin: Sir Robert Phelips (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 6.246 n.3). The allusion may be to Phelips’s speech of 5 June (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.119). <back>

27   Howtham: Sir John Hotham. The meaning of the anecdote in this and the following three lines is obscure. <back>

28   Cookes: it is not clear whether this is a reference to Sir Edward Coke. <back>

29   holy Lawrence: perhaps Lawrence Whitaker, MP and Clerk of the Privy Council. There appears to be no account of this “heathen fable” in the surviving diary reports of the Parliament. The poet uses anti-Puritan language—noting that Whitaker “in zeale turnes upp the white ofs eye”—and this fits with Whitaker’s reported speeches that indicate he was, at the least, a fervent anti-Papist (see, e.g., Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.151). <back>

30   Jove and Junoes daughter marrigable: Jove and Juno were king and queen of the gods, and their daughter Hebe or Juventas, goddess of youth, was married to Hercules. Without evidence of the actual speech, it is difficult to apply these mythological allusions to contemporary political circumstances. One possible link is that Hebe was displaced as cupbearer to the gods by Ganymede—to whom Buckingham was often compared in the early 1620s. Alternatively, the allusion could be to Elizabeth, the daughter of James I, who had married Frederick V, Elector Palatine, a leader of the beleagured Protestant cause on the continent. <back>

31   Viscount Slygo...of the supply: Sir John Scudamore held the Irish title of Viscount Sligo. This refers to Scudamore’s speech of 5 June, in which he argued that to win the King’s love the Commons should move ahead with the subsidy grant to the Crown (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.120). <back>

32   John Dory: a popular ballad (see Simpson 398-400). <back>

33   Littleton: there were two Littletons in the Commons in 1628, Edward and Thomas. A “Mr. Littleton” responded to Scudamore’s attempt to move consideration of the subsidy on 5 June (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.121). <back>

34   Ansley: Sir Francis Annesley. The allusion is to his remarks on 5 June (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.127). <back>

35   the D: the Duke of Buckingham. <back>

36   Dawson: Sir George Dalston. <back>

37   flyes: variant versions include the couplet, “And Valentine, clapping his hand on’s breast, / Stoutly resolves, yea now I thinke it best”, here rather than earlier in the poem (e.g. BL MS Sloane 826). <back>

38   Mr. Speaker: Sir John Finch was Speaker of the Commons in 1628. <back>

39   Dunkerks: pirates based in the Southern Netherlands port of Dunkirk, who preyed on English shipping in this period. <back>

40   Wentworth: Sir Thomas Wentworth, MP for Yorkshire. <back>

41   Wainsford: Christopher Wandesford. These lines probably allude to Wandesford’s remarks on 11 June (see Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.268). <back>

42   Jackson: Sir John Jackson. If Jackson spoke on 11 June, the diarists did not record his speech. <back>

43   the D: the Duke of Buckingham. <back>

44   Sir Andrewe Corbett: during the 11 June debate, Sir Andrew Corbet endorsed Wandesford’s conclusion that Buckingham’s excessive power “and the abuse of it has been the cause of those evils that have befallen us” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.268). <back>

45   Sir Thomas Bromley: Sir Thomas Bromley was MP for Worcestershire. His speech (or cap-throwing) on 11 June is not recorded in the surviving diaries. <back>

46   Robin Harley: Sir Robert Harley, MP and Master of the Mint. During the 11 June debate, Harley was reluctant to name the Duke in the Remonstrance because he felt they could still reform him and “make him a good instrument of the good of the kingdom” (Proceedings in Parliament, 1628 4.266). <back>

47   Ephestion: the OED defines “ephestian” as domestic as opposed to foreign. Perhaps the meaning here is that Harley is asking MPs to ponder the domestic consequences of their actions. <back>