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.

C1iii Downe came grave auntient Sir John Crooke (cont...)

Not soe saith his brother,1 words are but wynd

Yet noe man likes of this motion behynd

I said Oxenbridge2 there is great suspition

That this fart savoreth of popish superstition


Nay quoth Mr Goad3 and also some other

It should by its Libertie be a reformed brother4

Then up start Sir John Young,5 & swore by Gods nayles

Was never such a fart lett on the borders of Wales

Quoth Sir Roger Aston6 howe shall I tell it.


A fart hearesay and not see it nor smell it

Againe quoth Sir Roger it would well mend the matter

If this fart weere well shav’d and washt with rose water7

Quoth Sir Thomas Knevett8 I feare there may lurke

Under this Vault some more powder worke9


No quoth Sir John Parker10 I sweare by my Rapier

It was a Bombard11 stopt with vild coppie paper

Then said Mr Moore in his wonted order12

I rise but to speake of the howses disorder.

And methinks that motion with noe reason stands


A man should be charg’d with thats not in his hands

In his hands quoth Price13 noe the fault was in his britch

Some Taylor should have given the hose another stich

As noe talebearer darrs carry to the king14

Yes quoth Sir Roger Aston15 without any paine


My Memorie will serve to report the word againe

Quoth Sir Lewis his brother16 if it come of ambassage

The maister of Ceremonies must give it passage17

I quoth Sir Robert Drury18 that had bene your part

If it had bene a Forraine fart.


Well quoth a frend19 ere this be transacted

I feare wee must have this fart enacted

And wee shall have therefore (soe you doe not abhorr it

A fart from Scotland reciprocall for it.

A very good jeast by this light


Quoth little Mr James of the Isle of Wight20

Quoth Sir Robert Johnson21 if you will not laugh

Ile measure this fart with my Jacobs staffe,22

And though it be hard, Ile bend myne intentions

To survay it out equall into severall demensions


Noe that must not be said Sir John Bennett23

Wee must have a select committee to penn it,

Nay quoth Sir Richard Lovelace24 to end the difference

It weere fitt with the lords to have a conference25

Why said Doctor Crompton26 no man can drawe


This fart within the compasse of the civill lawe27

Noe said Doctor Paddy28 yett darr I assure him

Though it be Præter modestiam its not Præter naturam29

Harke harke quoth Sir John Towneshend30 this fart was of might

To deny his owne master to be dubbed knight.



1   his brother: the poem’s second reference to Sir Walter Cope. These sentiments are usually attributed to John Bond (who is mentioned again below). <back>

2   Oxenbridge: two Sir Robert Oxenbridges sat in the Commons. Sir Robert Oxenbridge the elder (c.1586-1616), a member of the Inner Temple, sat in the 1604 Parliament only; his son (1595-1638), a member of Gray’s Inn, sat in the 1621, 1624, 1625 and 1626 Parliaments. The elder Oxenbridge is the more likely candidate here, particularly as his son was inactive in all four parliaments in which he sat. While the elder Oxenbridge’s brother became a Jesuit, Oxenbridge himself was active on committees on reform of the ministry, and in February 1606, following the Gunpowder Plot, accused Sir William Maurice of attending mass (although, as a contemporary noted, “the House took no hold of that speech”). He died in 1616. <back>

3   Mr Goad: John Good, a member of Lincoln’s Inn, sat in the 1604 Parliament. Good was a pro-Scottish Catholic who outwardly conformed, but whose autobiography set out his rejection of the Anglican Church. He made a speech on the bill“against Puritans” in 1604, and in 1610 he continued to speak against Puritan ministers and for leniency towards recusants. <back>

4   reformed brother: derogatory reference to a Puritan. <back>

5   Sir John Young: Yonge, who sat in the 1597 and 1604 Parliaments, was well-known for his profanities both within and without the Commons. He died around 1614. But the poem’s suggested connection with Wales would be more appropriate if applied to Richard Younge, a member of Lincoln’s Inn, who sat in the 1604, 1621 and 1624 Parliaments. The latter was well-known as a Welsh member of the Commons, and was on the committee for the Welsh government bill. A version of this couplet is also linked to “Mr. Jones” (e.g. “I am noe teller of tales / the like have I never heard in the marches of Wales” (BL Add. MS 34218, fol. 20v)). There were at least three Joneses in early Stuart parliaments: John Jones, who sat in 1604; Richard Jones, who sat in 1628, 1640 and 1647; and Robert Jones, who sat in 1625 and 1628. <back>

6   Sir Roger Aston: Aston, a close friend of John Donne and Sir Henry Goodyer, sat in the 1604 Parliament. Bodleian MS Malone 23 appears to be collating two couplets on Aston that appear separately in other copies. He died in 1612. <back>

7   well shav’d...rose water: a marginal note in one manuscript describes Aston as “The Kinges Barber ” (Rosenbach MS 1083/15, fol. 55v) <back>

8   Sir Thomas Knevett: Knyvett sat in the 1572, 1584, 1586, 1589, 1597, 1601 and 1604 Parliaments. He died in 1622. <back>

9   I feare...worke: as Justice of the Peace for Westminster, Knyvett discovered the explosives under the Houses of Parliament in 1605. <back>

10   Sir John Parker: Parker sat in the 1589, 1593, 1601 and 1604 Parliaments. He died in 1617. <back>

11   Bombard: an early cannon; also playing on bombast (overblown, windy speech). <back>

12   Mr Moore...order: Sir George More, a member of the Inner Temple, sat in the 1584, 1586, 1589, 1593, 1597, 1601, 1604, 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625 and 1626 Parliaments. He was one of the most senior members of the House, and, famously, John Donne’s father-in-law. More habitually rose in the Commons “about Eleven of the Clock...[to] make Repetition of all that had been spoken that Day” (Bald 145). <back>

13   Price: this could be a reference to any one of several early Stuart parliamentarians named Price. Charles Price sat in the 1621, 1624, 1625, 1626, 1628, 1640 and 1642 Parliaments; James Price I sat in the 1593, 1597, 1601, 1604, 1614 and 1621 Parliaments; James Price II sat in the 1624, 1625 and 1626 Parliaments; William Price sat in the 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625 and 1626 Parliaments. <back>

14   As noe...king: the first line of a couplet often attributed to Samuel Lewkenor (“I am gladd, quoth Sam: Lewkner, wee have found a thing / Which no talebearer can cary to the King” (Bodleian MS Rawl. Poet. 26, fol. 7v)), the second line of which seems to have been missed by this copyist. Lewkenor sat in the 1584 and 1604 Parliaments. Behind the couplet is a speech Lewkenor delivered on 6 May 1607, which set out a number of concerns about the way the House’s freedom of speech had been compromised by “private suggestions or reports” delivered to the King. He argued that men who had “expressly been blamed and reprehended by his Majesty for their speeches in the House” should be given an opportunity to clear themselves, and that in future the House should be able “with all liberty and freedom and without fear, [to] deliver their opinions in the matter in hand”. <back>

15   Sir Roger Aston: the poem’s second reference to Aston. A variant has Aston jest that he has already carried the House’s message (i.e. the fart) to the King: “naye quoth Sir Roger, I went from this place, / and reported it worde for worde to his grace” (BL Add. MS 23229, fol. 16v). <back>

16   Sir Lewis his brother: Samuel’s brother, Sir Lewis Lewkenor, a member of the Middle Temple, sat in the 1597 and 1604 Parliaments. He was a contributor to Coryats Crudities. Several of his speeches in James’s first Parliament provoked hostile reactions. <back>

17   if it come...passage: Lewis Lewkenor was the Master of Ceremonies. The lines perhaps also allude to the hostile reaction to Lewkenor’s interposed speech of 28 June 1604, in which he claimed “that he was induced by some late conference with a foreign ambassador to put the House in mind of some answer to be made to the King’s late letter, touching subsidy”. Regarded as ardently pro-Spanish from early in James’s reign, Lewkenor was briefly imprisoned in 1625 for presuming to order, without authorization, a ship for the departure of the Spanish ambassador. <back>

18   Sir Robert Drury: Drury sat in the 1604 and 1614 Parliaments. An experienced soldier in the 1590s, he was appointed to an embassy to Spain in 1605. He was also a patron, and later landlord, of John Donne, who travelled with the Druries in Europe 1611-12. He died in 1615. <back>

19   a frend: in one manuscript the “frend” is identified as Sir Edward Hoby (BL Add. MS 23299, fol. 15r). <back>

20   Mr James...Wight: Richard James represented Newport, Isle of Wight, in the 1597, 1601 and 1604 Parliaments. He died in 1613. When Sir William Maurice on 9 Dec 1606 pressed the House to read a bill for imperial title, Richard James launched into an anti-Scots tirade. A different couplet is attributed to James in a variant: “naye quoth mister James no saieing will serve, / But savinge your reverence yf well observe” (BL Add. MS 23229, fol. 15r). <back>

21   Sir Robert Johnson: Johnson sat in the 1597, 1601, 1604 and 1614 Parliaments. He was appointed Surveyor in the Exchequer under Elizabeth, and prepared a treatise on reform of Crown lands. He was active in matters relating to land reform in James’s first Parliament, partly in order to increase Crown revenue, drawing on his expertise as a surveyor. He died in 1622. <back>

22   Jacobs staffe: surveyor’s tool used for measuring distances and heights. <back>

23   Sir John Bennett: Bennet, a member of Gray’s Inn, sat in the 1597 1601, 1604, 1614 and 1621 Parliaments. An ecclesiastical and civil lawyer, he was appointed to twenty-nine committees in the 1606-07 session and thirty-six in 1610. He was impeached in 1621 on corruption charges for accepting bribes in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. <back>

24   Sir Richard Lovelace: Lovelace, a member of Gray’s Inn, sat in the 1601, 1604, 1614 and 1621 Parliaments. <back>

25   to end...conference: on 22 January 1606, Lovelace put the motion that a conference be called with the Lords before addressing Thomas Wentworth’s proposal for securing “an able, sufficient and resident ministry”; however, the House instead nominated a committee. <back>

26   Doctor Crompton: Thomas Crompton sat in the 1589, 1597, 1601 and 1604 Parliaments. He died in February 1609, before the fourth session of the 1604 Parliament. <back>

27   no man...civill lawe: alludes to a conflict between the civil and common law, which precipitated the attack in the Commons, led by Richard Martin, on The Interpreter (1607), by John Cowell, Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge. The Interpreter was perceived to undermine the authority of the common law and Parliament, asserting instead the superiority of the royal prerogative. One copy continues: “for well I wott being a Cyvillian doctor / this farte came into Court withoute a Proctor” (BL Add. MS 34218, fol. 20v). <back>

28   Doctor Paddy: William Paddy, the King’s physician and President of the College of Physicians, sat in the 1604 Parliament only. <back>

29   Præter modestiam...naturam: beyond propriety not beyond nature. <back>

30   Sir John Towneshend: Towneshend sat in the 1604 Parliament only. <back>