Steven W. May and Alan Bryson (eds), Verse Libel in Renaissance England and Scotland

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Editor’s NotePOEM 14Richard Verstegan (alias Rowlands), 'The Worthy Warrior', 1592

  • 1Heere lies the woorthy warrier,
  • 2That never bloodied swoord:
  • 3Heere lies the loyall courtier,
  • 4That never kept his woord.
  • 5Heere lies his noble excellence,
  • 6That ruled all the States.132
  • 7Heere lies the Earle of Leicester,
  • 8Whome earth, and heaven hates.

copy text: A Declaration of the Trve Cavses of the Great Trovbles, Presvpposed to be Intended against the realme of England (STC 10005) 1592, sig. D3v

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Editor’s Note
Commentary, Poem 14
This second mock-epitaph for the Earl of Leicester was published in 1592, probably at Antwerp, in a pro-Catholic tract popularly known as 'Burghley's Commonwealth', but formally entitled A Declaration of the True Causes of the Great Troubles, Presupposed to be Intended against England. The Declaration responded to the Queen's proclamation of 18 October 1591 (STC 8207, Hughes and Larkin #738) by attacking Lord Treasurer Burghley and the Elizabethan regime in general. Although one seventeenth-century manuscript text of the poem attributes it to Sir Walter Ralegh, it is more probably the work of Richard Verstegan (or Vestegan, alias Rowlands), the pamphlet's author.133 Verstegan was a prolific poet who probably also wrote two other English poems included in the tract.
Editor’s Note
133 The ascription to Ralegh occurs in HN: MS EL 6162, a claim rejected by Ernest A. Strathmann, 'An Epitaph Attributed to Ralegh', Modern Language Notes 55 (1945), 111–14.
Editor’s Note
Textual Notes
The Declaration of 1592 appears to be ancestral to all manuscript copies of the epitaph, whether or not they are embedded in transcribed copies of the entire tract. The text in BL Stowe MS 156, f. 204v, is an expanded, twelve-line version of the poem radically different from the other texts we have seen. It is appended to a manuscript copy of the 1584 prose libel, 'Leicester's Commonwealth'. While D. C. Peck believed this unique, longer version of the poem superior to that in the Declaration, it is more likely a work independently expanded to link the Earl to some of the crimes with which he was charged in the prose libel. Peck offers a detailed alignment of the accusations against Leicester in the 'Commonwealth' with those in the poetic attack on Leicester.134
We collate below the following transcribed versions of the poem against the printed text:135
  1. A   O: Add. MS C.304b, f. 10v

  2. Ad   BL Add. MS 48114, f. 44

  3. A3   O: MS Ashmole 38, p. 181, ll. 1–4 only

  4. D   Victoria and Albert Museum, Dyce MS 44, f. 60

  5. Don   O: MS Don b.8, p. 107

  6. E   Edinburgh University Library, Laing MS III. 436, p. 99

  7. H2   HN: MS EL 1162, f. 17v

  8. H6   HN: MS EL 6162, f. 8a verso

  9. H7   BL Harl. MS 6807, f. 160v

  10. HM7   HN: MS HM 267, f. 15

  11. O   Y: Osborn MS fb.40, p. 224

  12. S   BL Stowe MS 156, f. 204v

  13. SP   PRO SP 12/242/17

  14. W   O: Wood MS D 19, p. 110 (2)

1 lies] lieth D H2 H7; the] an E; woorthy] waliant E, valiant S, noble D H6, om. A3; warrier] soldiere A3 S; 2 bloodied] drew his A3 E S, blooded HM7 SP W; swoord] snourde E; 3 Heere] He E; the loyall] that A3, the Noble D H6 S, ane honest E; courtier] Counselloure D; 5 his noble excellence] his noble Excellency D, the Earle of Leister E, his excellency H6, the Noble Leacher S; 6 ruled] governs H6; all the] in high D; States] estate D, State H6 W; sub. Governour of the States E, Heere lyes the constant housband S; 7 Earle of Leicester] L of L H6, sub. Whome Liveinge earthe never Loved E; 8 Whome earth, and heaven] Whome god and man D, And the heavines E, that all ye world H6, Whom heaven and earth HM7, Yt God, & Man S; hates] now hates E, did hate D S, hate H6 W, still hates HM7.
Eight of these texts (A, Ad, H2, H7, HM7, S, SP, and O) occur in transcribed copies of the complete Declaration. But the poem also enjoyed independent popularity as an anti-Leicester libel in such typical anthologies as A3, D, and H6. A hypothetical source, X, replaced 'States' in l. 6 with 'state', an error, since the passage refers to Leicester's rule as Governor of the United Provinces (States) of the Netherlands. This caused the corresponding error in the rhyme word for l. 8, 'hate' for 'hates'. D, H6, S, and W follow this line of descent. A second hypothetical source, Y, is also ancestral to D, H6, and S. It replaced 'loyal' with 'noble' in l. 3, anticipating (and duplicating) its appearance in l. 5. SP also reads 'noble' in l. 3, a quite possible independent variation since it has the correct rhyme words in ll. 6 and 8. We suggest that Z broke the metre of l. 1 with its disyllabic 'lieth', an error transmitted to H2 and H7, but committed independently by the scribe of D in all four uses of the word. Alternatively, this mistake might have been committed independently by all three scribes.
The texts in Don b 8 (Don) and the Osborn MS (O), agree in all substantive readings with Verstegan's print. A, Ad, H2, H7 HM7, and W are reasonably sound versions of the poem with no more than two manifest errors apiece. A3, with only the first four lines of the poem, is fairly corrupt. It omits adjectives required for the metre in ll. 1 and 3, while its title, 'On Sr Robert Dudley Earle of Warwicke and Leicester', confers on Robert an earldom actually held by his brother Ambrose, Earl of Warwick. Ignoring the four extra lines added to S, the most degraded texts are E with at least nine errors (plus a number of other deviations from the printed version in the Declaration), and D, which places ll. 3–4 before ll. 1–2, and commits at least eight further errors.
This eight-line poem illustrates most of the kinds of changes that typically beset nearly any text that circulated widely enough in scribal circles. Lines were added (5), omitted (A3), and re-ordered (D). The libel was gratuitously attributed to a bogus author, 'Wa. Ra.' by the compiler of H6 (a predictable choice, since scribes probably credited Ralegh with more works in verse and prose that he did not write than any other author of the first half of the seventeenth century). The poem's context was to some degree altered insofar as it was excerpted from an overall libel of Lord Burghley and the Elizabethan regime to serve as a stand-alone attack on Leicester (A3, D, H6). The textual deterioration along multiple lines of descent is also typical, especially for a poem that survives in more than a dozen copies. The degree of degradation points to a great many missing transcriptions between Verstegan's printed original and the most corrupt terminal witnesses to his poem, A3, D, E, H6, and S. Yet even without Verstegan's authorial, printed version, it would be entirely possible to reconstruct this text in all substantive readings where the best texts, A, Ad, Don, H2, H7, O, SP, and W, agree.
Fig. 2. Stemma for Poem 14

Fig. 2. Stemma for Poem 14

Editor’s Note
134 D. C. Peck, 'Another Version of the Leicester Epitaphium', N&Q, 221 (1976), 227–8.
Editor’s Note
135 We have not collated the version embedded in a full copy of the Declaration in National Library of Wales, Cwrtmawr MS 383D (unfoliated), about ff. 224v–5, or the stand alone text in Cambridge University Library Add. MS 9221, f. 94v.
Editor’s Note
132 In 1586 Leicester led an English army to aid the embattled Dutch against their Spanish occupiers. He angered the Queen by accepting the title Governor of the Low Countries.
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