Tyger's Head Books

Posts Tagged ‘editorial comment’

Aulicus disputes Parliament’s maths re. Newbury

In ECW editor's comment on September 25 at 12:04 pm

25 Sep 1643 (Mon) || The pretended Houses made an Order on Fryday last, that no man should speake of the late battaile neare Newbury, but according to the Relation given to the House of Commons by a young man sent from their Army for that purpose. And what that young man related I shall here tell you. First he said that the King had left above 5000 men, but his Excellency had not lost full 140. Then he said, that the King had not above 800 left of all his foot, and if they would now pursue their victory, both Oxford & all the West of England might easily be regained. And when Master Speaker demanded of him who had the pillage of the dead, his answer was, that both sides came in together, and stript the dead without opposition of either party. But what impudent impossible and bottomlesse lyes these are, let all the world judge. For this Relator confessed the King brought ten thousand foot into the fields, whereof (saith he) we kild full five thousand (horse and foot) and yet they left but 800 alive. Next consider, this Relator said that his Excellence having above 10000 foot, lost but 140, and yet these 9850 suffered poore 800 to be joynt pillagers of the field, and (which is more) these 9850 souldiers call for aid from London to helpe to defeat 800 of the Kings. Who this young man was, whether Charles Pym, or some famous Truth-speaker fetched out of a sawpit for that very purpose, I cannot tell; only I shall request all the Kingdome to consider if His Majesties Proclamation was not just and necessary, that is, whether any credit or obedience ought to be yeelded to these mens votes, who vote 800 to be halfe of 10000; and 300 to be full 5000, and vote that all London shall say so too, for thats the truth and consequence of this ridiculous new Order.  || John Berkenhead/Peter Heylyn – Mercurius Aulicus (R)

Britanicus accuses Aulicus of untruths

In ECW editor's comment on September 23 at 2:55 am

23 Sep 1643 (Sat) || I will not say Master Aulicus is mad, but I am sure he hath lost his wit, or our last victory hath frighted him out of it, for never came newes so simply into the world from Oxford as this weeke, not so much as a sparkle of with from the 17. of September where he begins, to the three and twentieth, where he ends.

I can guesse but at foure reasons: either his pension failes, or the losse at Newbery hath sadned him, or he is fallen from sacke to six shilling bear [beer], or we shot him in the braine with our last jests, and he now lies under the surgeon with his noble friends Jermin and Progers, but indeed the grand Mercury Faulkland is slaine, yet we hear her Majesty intends to summon all Poets and Schollers of any comptency of wit, from the age of sixteen to sixty, to be aiding and assisting to the next Diurnall, for Master Aulicus is put upon such a vast duty every weeke, viz. the telling of at least an hundred lies, together with fine conceits, that he is not able to undergoe it, unlesse a Sub-Committee for lying and jesting be added to him. || Robert White & George Bishop – Mercurius Britanicus (P)

Mercurius Britanicus ridicules Aulicus

In ECW editor's comment on September 12 at 1:41 am

12 Sep 1643 (Tue) || The grand newes is, Mercurius Aulicus was surprized on Wednesday last by the Militia of the City of London, a few onely escaped, and no fewer then five hundred lies were taken prisoners, it is though as great a losse as befell his Majestie since the late losse at Glocester, but we hear they are recruiting him fast at Oxford, and I can assure you there is a Presse there at this very present for that very purpose. || Robert White & George Bishop – Mercurius Britanicus (P)

Response to Royalist pamphlets

In ECW editor's comment, London on August 26 at 12:59 am

26 Aug 1643 (Sat) || Before I proceed to that which I have to relate, I will speake a word or two in answer of severall Pamphlets printed at Oxford, and privately disperst in and about London. They harpe much upon one string, and especially Mercurius Aulicus, who sayes that the forces now raised by the Parliament, are raised without any just ground, onely through Feared and Jealousies, To this I have briefly in answer collected these six particulars. First, the designe of altering the Religion in his Majesties Kingdomes, hath been potently carried on by those in greatest authority about his Majestie for divers yeares together, besides the policy of the Queenes Agent at Rome, and the Popes Nuncio in England. Secondly, the warre with Scotland was procured to make way for this intent, and chiefly contrived by Papists, whereof we have many evidences, especially their free and generall contribution towards it. Thirdly, the Rebellion in Ireland was contrived here, and the English Papists have risen about the same time, divers testimonies have beene produced in affirmation thereof. Fourthly, in hopes of the Papists good successe, there was fasting and prayers to be observed weekly by the English Papists, as by an intercepted Letter to a Jesuite more at large appeareth. Fifthly, the boldnesse of the Irish Rebels, in affirming they doe nothing but by authority from the King. And sixtly, the vast summes of money collected in forraigne parts towards the maintenance of the Catholic Cause in England, Scotland, and Ireland. || Bernard Alsop – The Weekly Account (P)

Newark Royalists resist attack

In Nottinghamshire on March 3 at 9:30 am

3 March 1642/3 (Fri) || This day newes came of the successe the Rebels had at Newarke upon Trent, who finding how great an obstacle it was unto their proceedings, resolved to set their rest upon it, and to beleaguer it on every side. And to that end the Earle of Lincolne, the Lord Willoughby of Parham, and Colonell Ballard, with the main body of their Forces out of Lincolnshire, and Gell with his rebellious rout (being frighted from his intended meeting with Sir William Brereton, as before was noted) comming out of Darbyshire, sate downe before the Towne upon Munday last, the whole number of their Forces amounting to 6000 men, and those well strengthned and secured by ten peeces of Ordinance: But contrary to what they looked for, Colonell Henderson the Governour of the Towne did so order his matters, that after they had in vaine attempted to force their entrances, (though in the Town they had no Ordinance to keepe them off) they were faine to leave the enterprise, and defend themselves; being so hotly charged by the Garrison Souldiers, that they retreated in great haste, and at great disorder, leaving 200 of their fellowes dead behind them, and foure of their ten Peeces of Ordinance, to serve as a memoriall of their overthroe. Of these foure Peeces of Ordinance the purposely broke one, that it might not be of any use unto the Victors; the other three were brought into the Towne, and came most opportunely to make good their workes. There were also 60 of the Enemies taken Prisoners, and amongst them some French Papists, who served under the command, and for the pay of the two Houses of Parliament. By which it seemes that Popish forces may be used in defence of the Protestant Religion, if they serve on that side for their wages; though onely for the bringing in of Popery, if they serve the King out of the conscience of their dutie. And ’twas observable withall, that in so speciall a piece of service, there was but one killed of the King’s good subjects, and that by accident. || John Berkenhead/Peter Heylyn – Mercurius Aulicus (R)

The Siege at Newark was both short and quickly raised, for indeed the Lincolnshire Trained bands of the foote ran away like Cowards, the Horse maintained it manfully, and particularly Sergeant Major Griffeth (otherwise called Prince Griffith) with his Troope made good the retreate of the valiant Gentleman, Sir John Gell, who with his Forces went on in the Forlorne Hope, beate the Cavaliers out of their Workes, and gained part of the Towne, but by reason of the Lincolnshire foot cowardly failing to second him, he was constrained to retreate, with the losse of two Drakes; The Lord Willoughby exprest much valour there; Its said the Lincolneshire men wil come on again; there was much fault in the losse of the first design, and there was a Commander they say much too blame. || Richard Collings – The Kingdome’s Weekly Intelligencer

Pecke takes further issue with counterfeits of his newsbook

In ECW editor's comment on January 7 at 5:00 pm

7 Jan 1642/3 || Courteous Reader be pleased once more to take notice that this Copy is and hath been abused by a Scandalous Copy under the names of Walt Cook and Robert Wood; and since they have learnt the impudence to justifie their falshoods, by terming the Copy to be the most approved one, and more exactly Collected then any other, which is a notorious falshood, be pleased for your better satisfaction to compare the two Copies, and you will soon discerne that there is little in that Copy they so much commend of any truth unlesse some few relations they are beholding to the Passages for,¹ but as well in that as in their other weekly Passages they deceive the Commonswealth with a company of lyes and meere inventions. || Samuel Pecke – A Perfect Diurnall (P)

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¹ Cooke and Wood authored a second newsbook, Certain Speciall and Remarkable Passages; authorship of the various issues is highly confusing, but some authorities assert that Pecke also authored a newsbook of this name, in which case he is suggesting that if Cooke and Wood got any facts right in their paper, it was only because they had stolen them from him.

Collings suspects Royalist duplicity regarding the King’s petition response

In ECW editor's comment on January 7 at 3:00 pm

7 Jan 1642/3 || The Answer which his Majesty returned, hath in divers places of it words to this effect: That he believes the better and greater part of this City is full of love and loyalty to his Majesty, and that the former Tumults were persons of the Suburbs, not of the Inhabitants: That his Majesty lookes upon that City, as awed by the Army which gave Battle to his Majesty (meaning the Army raised by the Parliament) wherein was used all possible meanes to take away his life from him, &c. … The contrivers of this Answer had small cause to say the Parliament (for so is meant) would have taken away the life of the King; for did not the Earle of Essex petition his Majesty twice at Shrewsbury, and at Wolverhampton to withdraw his Person, lest any inconvenience might befall his Majesty: And then let the world judge whether those ill Counsellors about his Majesty be guilty of driving his Majesty in person to the Battle of Keinton, and therein to hazzard his life (which the God of heaven long preserve, that he may be a happy instrument of the honour and glory of God on earth, and bee crowned with eternall glory hereafter). And therefore if any misfortune had befalne his Majesty at that time, it could not be imputed a wilfull act in the Parliaments Army, no more then it was in him, that as he [who] was shooting at a Deer in New Forrest, bid William Rufus stand by, which that King neglecting, the Arrow glanced from off the horne of the Deere, and killed William Rufus. And therefore that worne-thred-bare expression of the contrivers of the Kings Declarations & Answers, positively charging the Parliaments army with endeavouring to take away the life of the King, ought rather to be laid aside, then to use it hereafter, there being more just cause for the Parliament to demand Justice on the contrivers of the Declaration and Answers that use the said expression, then for His Majestie (or rather the Contrivers in His name) to demand the fourementioned foure persons, for no other cause, but for doing the commands of Parliament (whom the Parliament will protect).

The last thing for the present concerning this answer, is that it was sent to London (yet rather thought to be framed at London before it was sent to Oxford) and here Printed by authority (as the Kings Printers in London affirmed) and was by some published in Print before the Citizens that presented it came out of Oxford (the respite of time being very short betwixt their delivering of it and coming away) but this circumstance is observable, that even this Answer in his Majesties name was (as is probable) without his first privity, for that he hath since sent a Countermand; nay, that very night to his Printing House, not to publish any such things in Print, which gives just presumption that the contrivers know what must be done before the King. || Richard Collings – The Kingdomes Weekly Intelligencer (P)

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¹ King William was shot in 1100 in highly dubious circumstances, by an arrow fired by nobleman Walter Tirel. The details remain murky, but clearly Collings preferred to believe it was an accident.

² Collings suggests that the King’s answer was framed in London (presumably by advisors remaining in the capital), a copy sent to Oxford so he could give it in person, and then printed in London by the King’s printers there, before the delegation had even left Oxford. As numerous copies are extant, printed at Oxford, Shrewsbury, and London by various printers, and at least one London issue is a counterfeit, it is difficult to untangle where and when the first copies were made. However the print date is given as 5th January, the day after the delegation’s royal audience, and the same day they left for London; at the same time that they arrived there two days later, on Saturday 7th, and presented Parliament with the document, Aulicus in Oxford was noting that it was already “exposed in print to the publique view”. So whilst Collings’ suggestion – that a pre-prepared answer to the petition originated with some Royalist cabal in London and not with the King himself at Oxford – is far-fetched, he is entirely correct that somebody printed and distributed the royal response before anyone in Parliament even had a chance to see it.  Whether the King did issue a countermand is not known, although undoubtedly his Oxford printer would have found himself in very hot water.

Editor Blunden reacts to plagiarism of his newsbooks

In ECW editor's comment on December 7 at 11:21 pm

7 Dec 1642 (Wed) || Two things the reader is intreated to take notice of. 1. That under the usurped names of H. Blunden, Blundo, Blundon, and the like, many frivolous, lying, and scandalous pamphlets have lately past the Presse. 2. That whatsoever pamphlets such of laid, or hereafter shalt beare the foresaid name are false, and feigned and published by none but abusively impudent, and factious mercenary fellowes. || Humphrey Blunden – Speciall Passages and Certain Informations

Blog editor’s comment – the nature of Civil War news

In Blog editor's comment on October 30 at 3:16 pm

In the mid-seventeenth century regular printed news reports were a recent invention, appearing first in the 1620s in the form of Corantos: news sheets covering, in the main, Continental news from the ongoing Thirty Years War. Reporting of British news was at that time forbidden by the Crown, mostly on security grounds, and a long-standing system of censorship was in place to regulate other printing. This system collapsed, however, with the Triennial Act of 1641 which swept away the two institutions that upheld it: the court of Star Chamber and the ecclesiastical Court of High Commission. Parliament moved almost immediately to enforce new censorship measures, but the building troubles in England, Ireland and Scotland demanded reporting, and there was a ready public appetite for the sudden surge of national – rather than Continental – news. The Crown was in no position to re-impose its prohibition of British news reports, and Parliament found the flurry of new printing useful to its cause, to promote its own interests and to disseminate its condemnations of the King’s supporters (and, later, the King). Consequently the 1640s saw a rapid development in the presentation of news. At the start of the war there were only two or three regular news organs in existence. The major newsbooks that most students of the wars will be familiar with, those most often quoted by scholars such as the Royalist Mercurius Aulicus (printed at Oxford), the fiercely Parliamentarian Mercurius Civicus (London), and Mercurius Britanicus (which typically took great pleasure in baiting Aulicus), were not set up until 1643; dozens of others followed them, many surviving no further than their first issue. The existing newsbooks in autumn 1642, those that handled the reports from Edgehill, were impersonal and merely narrative in nature, awkward offspring of the early Corantos. Unused to handling a rapidly changing news environment, their reports were fragmentary, undated, inaccurate and rapidly superseded (their collators, unlike that of Civicus in 1643, apparently did not wait for confirmatory letters before issuing reports); the quality of English was poor, or at least unproofed, with words and even lines frequently missing – presumably a testament to rapid writing and even more rapid typesetting and printing.

The arrival of the newsbook “big-guns” such as Civicus, and its counterpart Aulicus, marked a step change, both in quality and editorial confidence: the collators did not merely report verbatim what they received, but introduced a measure of planning, writing their own text around the reports, offering their own opinions, informing their readership of forthcoming news held back for the next edition, and increasingly taking shots at their publishing rivals. These voices – a mixture of straight news, social and religious lecture, and vociferous comment – add a fascinating edge to the reporting of the English Civil War.