St John's College K.40 (James 349)

Commonplace. English, late seventeenth century


A political and verse commonplace of the later seventeenth century. The initial and concluding pages contain notes by G[eorge] A[shby] (Fellow and President of St John's College, Cambridge, 1724-1808), dated Barrow 30 December 1796, and Ashby's remarks and comments are scattered Thomas Baker-like throughout the work. The substantial contents are:

  1. A Life of Sir Philip Musgrave (1607-78) and his family during the time of the Civil Wars and Commonwealth (pp. 3-52). Ashby in John Gough, British Topography (London, 1780), i, 30 suggests that the author was somebody who 'knew his family minutely, perhaps Dr Hugh Todd' (see infra, art. 3), but this attribution is questioned at p. 279. C.f. the contemporary Life written by Gilbert Burton, vicar of Edenhall, ed. Samuel Jefferson (Carlisle, 1840).
  2. ?William Nicolson, Bishop of Carlisle and Derry, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly (1655-1727), see p. 54: 'Notes upon soe much of Mr Camden's Britannia as falls within the Province of York: According to the Pages of the English Edition (Northumberland excepted) Collected for the use of the undertakers of a new Edition of that work 1693/4' (pp. 55-85).
  3. Hugh Todd (d. 1728): 'An Hystoricall Account of the Citty of Carlisle, from its first foundation to the present time, extracted out of records, and Hystorys both Antient and Modern', with a dedication to the Mayor, James Nicholson, the Recorder and Aldermen of Carlisle. Incomplete (pp. 89-102). On the author see DNB.
  4. Poems of the Restoration period (c. 1670-82), frequently explicit and scandalous, written from the end of the vol., including (p. 206) 'A Heroick Poem', beg.: 'Of villaines, Rebells, Cuckolds, Pimps, and Spyes / Cowards, and fooles, and stormers of Dirt Pyes'; (p. 202) 'Mantua Eclog: 4o / On woman Kind', beg.: 'Wee Sacred Nymphs of Libethra bee by / Whilest yow Polymnia prompt my memory'; (p. 185) 'Scandall Satyr'd', beg.: 'Of all the fooles these fertile times produce / The Raileing Scribblers most without excuse'; (p. 181) 'The Recovery', beg.: 'Yet once more peace turns back her head to smile / And takes some pitty on our Stubborne Isle'; (p. 175) Letter from Andrew Marvell, 'See Granger 2 425'; (p. 170) Letter to a 'loving friend': 'The true Englishman speaking plaine English'; (p. 160) 'An Essay of Scandall', beg.: 'Of all the plagues with which this word abounds / Our discords, Causes, wid'ners of our wounds'; (p. 156) 'A Ballad', beg.: 'Yee London ladds be sorry / Your Parliament friends are gone'; (p. 154) 'Letany', beg.: 'From the Lawlesse Dominion of mitre and Crowne / Whose Tyranny is soe absolute growne'; (p. 150) 'A Poem on the times', beg.: 'Now what the Devill ailes our frantick nation / To keep this Damn'd to doe with Reformacion?'; (p. 146) 'A Supplement to the Late heroick Poem Ille ego Qui Quondam, or, The same hand againe', beg.: 'I who of Diverse Villaines sung before / With honest Indignation sing of more'; (p. 141) 'The Humble Addresse of the Ladyes of Pleasure', beg.: 'Wee your Majesties most Dutifull and Loyall Subiects the Ladyes of pleasure in the severall Seraglios of Moorefields, Whetstone Parke, Lukeners Lane, Dogge and Bitch Yard, and the rest of the stewes, and Conyburrowes in and about the Virtuous Pallace of Whitehall'; (p. 138) 'Canto'; (p. 123) calculations involving division in pounds, shillings and pence; (p. 120) 'The Nine 1690'. Most if not all the poems are in the same satirical style, and perhaps by the same author. The hand is probably that of Samuel Clark (see below). Someone has read through the verses correcting occasional errors by the copyist.

Ashby's thoughts on the MS are found in Gough's British Topography, i, 30, 279. Loose in the vol. is a letter from Ashby to the owner of the MS, Sir Isaac [Pennington], dated 20 Dec. 1796. In his opinion, the historical work is 'by a domestick Chaplain, or a pious woman of the family (the hand is female)'. The verses are 'in the manner of Rochester, and much too bad to allow you to show the Book to all persons indiscriminately, the best way would be to cut them out at once'.

Manuscript extra information

205x155 mm. [vi]+210+[iii] pp. The loose bifolium measures 205x165 mm. folded. Pencilled accounts on p. 208. The name Christopher Dalton appears at various places, for example p. 102, where it is glossed in a later hand 'Dalston of Acorn Bank Westm[orland] / See Tour thro Gr. Br. 3. 318'. On flyleaf at the rear of the vol.: 'Samuell / Clark / 1689 / 216 / I C (?)'. The names of both Dalton and Clark appear on p. 210 under 'Mr Joseph Gascoine's house in Norfolk Street in the Strand, London'. Sir Isaac Pennington (1745-1817), Fellow and President of St John's, bequeathed the MS to the College, but it is not recorded in Cowie. Negative microfilm held in the Library.

Several distinct hands. Paper, several pp. mutilated, and five fos completely excised before p. 3. Ruled margins throughout, the text measuring approx. 175x130 mm. Some pages bear the practice impressions of an unidentified signet seal (eg, 115, 121, 123, rear endpapers). The bifolium letter is worn and fragile. Handsome seventeenth-century gold-tooled morocco binding with marbled endpapers.