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Amores Britannici

Epistles Historical and Gallant, In English Heroic Verse: From several of The Most Illustrious Personages of their Times. In Imitation of the Heroidum Epistolae of Ovid. With Notes explaining the Most Material Passages in every History [by John Oldmixon]

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Elnor Cobham Dutchess of Gloucester, Wife of Humphrey, Sirnam'd the Good, Duke of Gloucester, and Protector of the Kingdom during the Minority of his Nephew King Henry VI. having been accus'd of Sorcery, and contriving the Death of the King, was condemn'd to three publick Pennances in London, and to be afterwards confin'd to the Isle of Man; which Sentence was accordingly executed. From Man she writes to Duke Humphrey this Letter; and the next is his Answer.

Elnor Cobham to Duke Humphrey.

You wonder who to send you this presumes,
And turn, methinks, to know from whom it comes:
I fear, so wretched, when my Name you see,
You'll scorn the Letter in Contempt of me.


What shall I do that you my plaint may hear?
My Name, my very Being I'll forswear:
Since 'tis so infamous, so odious grown,
I will no more, by what you hate, be known:
And yet, for what shou'd you confounded stand?
What can you see to fright you in my Hand?
You are no stranger to my Shame and Woe,
Too long, too much have known, to Wonder now!
From you the worst of my Misfortunes came,
The Subject still, and my Complaint the same.
My Letter, you believe, will blast your Sight,
And read with trembling what in Tears I write.
Yet these to hurt you have no secret harm,
No dreadful Spell and no infernal Charm:
From these, my Lord has nothing ill to fear,
Whose Health and Joy I to my own prefer.
A loyal Wife petitions you to read,
Who brought you for her Dow'r a Virgin's Bed.
Tho' Beaufort's Malice to defame my Life,

Cardinal Beauford, an Enemy to this Lady, pretended she gave the Duke Philters to engage his Love.

Thy Mistress makes me first, and then thy Wife.


If once to lawless Studies I apply'd,
I us'd no lawless means to be thy Bride:
I won thee not by Trick nor Magic Charms,
Nor practis'd Arts to tempt thee to my Arms:
I try'd no Philters nor bewitching Draught,
To force thy Love as some have weakly thought:
I can no worth as Holland's Princess boast,

Duke Humphrey marry'd Jacornin, Daughter to the Duke of Holland, and Wife of the Duke of Brabant, with whom Burgundy joyn'd, and made War on Duke Humphrey, who by the Sentence of the Pope, was oblig'd to return her to her first Husband.

But on our Island brought no forein Host:
No clam'rous Husband chac'd the flying Dame,
Nor forc'd thee basely to suppress the Shame,
To send her back polluted as she came:
Nor Burgundy, nor Brabant claim'd thy Wife,
Nor did our Spousals fill the World with Strife:
No sacred Court was mov'd to make us part,
For none thy Right disputed to my Heart:
No fierce Commotions from our Nuptials rose,
Nor Provinces attackt by neighb'ring Foes.
Your Brother's Princely Consort may resign,

The Duke of Bedford's Wife, was Daughter to the Duke of Burgundy, he regent of France, and Gloucester of England.

Her Title to precedence here to mine.


The great Protector's Wife destroys her Claim,
If else I might not to that Honour aim:
If by the Lustre of our ancient Race,
I have no Title to so high a Place;
Greenwich, once Witness of our Royal State,
Sinks in our Fortunes as she rose of late.
To the next Towns when I was wont to ride,
The joyful Province put on all her Pride.
The Silver Thames to meet my golden Barge,
Swell'd his white Waves, and proudly bore the Charge.
The Ships where'er the wanton Galley row'd,
Hung out their chequer'd Tops, and spread their Flags abroad.
Where'er I went, I like a Goddess mov'd,
Ador'd by all, if not by all belov'd.
How cou'd the Crowd my Ignominy see?
My slavish Punishment for Love of thee.
When doom'd to vulgar Penance in the Street,
Vile in my Dress, and wounded in my Feet.


I march'd and suffer'd, Conscious of my Wrongs,
The rude Insultings of Plebeian Tongues.
Where then wast thou and thy supream Command?
Where then the great Protector of the Land?
Of all thy Brother Princes, stil'd the Good,
More famous for thy Vertue than thy Blood.
For, who of all Heroic Edward's Line,

Descended from Edward III. by John of Gaunt.

Has kept his Fame so uncorrupt as thine?
Who else next Henry shou'd the Realms advance,
To Guide this Empire and to Bridle France?
Rayner's proud Daughter must be fetch'd in hast,
To our Dishonour on the Throne be plac'd,
And Main and Anjou on the Beggar cast.
In vain thou labour'st with incessant Toil,
With a fair Heiress to enrich our Isle.
There's nothing worthy in Arminiack seen,

The Princess of Arminiac, whom the Duke of Gloucester wou'd have marry'd to his Nephew, but Pooll Duke of Suffolk mannag'd him so well, as to get him to take his Friend Margaret, Daughter to the Poor King of Sicily.

Since Pool will have his Darling made a Queen.
By this the Minion is become so great,
To rival Princes in their Pow'r and State.


To rule these Realms with arbitrary Sway,
And govern those he shou'd himself obey.
Why, when the Ocean bore him, were his Sails
Swoln gently out with mild Etesian Gales?
Why, when he brought her, did the Winds restrain
Their Rage, and curl with sportive Waves the Main?
Why did not Lightnings blast, and Thunder roar,
And angry Tempest dash 'em on the shoar?
E're she arriv'd to wast with lavish hand,
On worthless Slaves, the Riches of the Land.
What Henry conquer'd, and what Bedford kept,
By Rayner's griping Poverty is swept.
The Queens whom we have fetch'd from distant shores,
With forein Treasures have encreas'd our Stores,
Which to our Coffers vast Revenues brings,
The Life of Subjects, and the Strength of Kings.


Which animates the Soldier best to fight,
And best supports us to maintain our Right.
She brought us Ruin for a Royal Dow'r,
And sinking in our Fortunes, sunk us low'r.
Yet from her always I receive most Wrong,
And suffer most from her malicious Tongue.
Witch, Beldam, Sorc'ress are her common Words,
The civil'st Names which she on me affords.
Oh, for her sake that I a Sorc'ress were,
By Day to plague her, and by Night to scare!
Her Face with cank'ring Scratches I wou'd tear,
Or with mysterious Knots bewitch her Hair:
By Night unseen, lie heavy on her Breast,
Break her soft Slumbers and distract her Rest:
Or pinch her tender Skin, with fairy Pains,
Which holds her wanton Blood in azure Veins:
Or take some other more familiar Shape,
That my just Vengeance she might ne'er escape:
Were I her Robe that I her Flesh might hurt,
With fiercer Poyson than Alcides Shirt:


The Venom thro' her Veins I wou'd distil,
And her whole Frame with wild Destruction fill:
Were I a Flow'r that wou'd her Smell invite,
Soft to the Touch, and tempting to the Sight;
I'd strike with pestilential Fumes her Brain,
Till she grew mad like me, and rav'd with Pain.
'Tis said, the Druids once possess'd this Isle,
Mona, the place of my unjust exile;
Whose pow'rful Charms prodigious Wonders wrought,
As Doctrine worshipt, and as Science taught.
Oh, that to me they had their Spells resign'd!
Which rais'd and husht whene'er they pleas'd the Wind:
The Moon affrighted trembled in her Sphere,
With Horror heard their Voice and shrunk with fear:
Cou'd I like these destroy the Plowman's Seed,
Or bane the Flocks as on the Down they feed.


Infernal Spirits nurse with Infant Blood,
Waft thro' the Air, or o're the briny Flood,
Had I this Knowledge that by time is lost,
I wou'd still haunt her like an injur'd Ghost.
O pardon, pardon, my ungovern'd Tongue!
What Woman can endure such mighty Wrong?
The Heav'ns, as nearer she approach'd our Land,
Seem'd to forbid her to defile the Strand.
Blue Lightning flasht amain, and Thunder roar'd,
And England's Genius her Descent abhor'd:
Earth quak'd, and twice the Thames kept back his Tide,
Reluctant to behold her on his side;
Pauls shook with Tempests, and her mounting Spire,
Blaz'd out with ghastly Flames and aireal Fire;
Our stately Buildings from their Base were torn,
Flung down, or were aloft by Whirl-winds born;
The Storm, the Image of her mind, these Ills,
Prophetick to the Woe our Kingdom feells.


Oh! blame me not, for when I durst not speak,
My Heart is ready with the Load to break;
I, whose Degree was lately near the Throne,
Am now a Vagabond, an out-cast grown;
No shining Robes my wretched Limbs adorn,
Wrapt in a Mantle, and expos'd to scorn:
My Presence once cou'd strike the Crowd with aw,
Whose Suff'rings scarce can their Compassion draw:
Abroad I seldom venture, but by Night,
Grown noxious, like an Owl, to human Sight;
In Clifts of Rocks, or in a dampy Cell,
In Caves, the Confines of the Grave, I dwell;
My Eyes in which my Lord such pleasure took,
Each youthful Grace, and ev'ry cheerful Look;
Are early banisht thence by Care and Pain,
And haggar'd Wrinkles in their place remain:
Like Rings of Gold my Locks but lately shin'd,
Their Curl the Frolick of the gamesom Wind;
Now like a Gorgon's, my dishevel'd Hair
Hangs o'er my Back, and whom it charm'd, wou'd scare;


My Breasts no more like snowy Hills appear,
The Loves are seen no more, nor Graces there;
My Skin with loathsom Jaundice is o'er grown,
To thee, nor to my self, I cou'd no more be known;
So much of all that's lovely, I'm bereft,
The Ruins of a Beauty scarce are left;
To think how Happy I was once, and Fair,
How wretched now, and how I thence despair:
When I reflect on what I once cou'd boast,
And what of Pow'r and of Command I've lost:
I rave with Madness like Tartarian Priests,
Or Nymphs of Bacchus at their frantick Feasts:
On Beauford may Egyptian Plagues descend,
That Prelate, rather I shou'd call him Fiend;
There's something in his Name methinks so foul,
Forgive me Heav'n, 'tis Poyson to my Soul;
The Traytor, he, who when my Cause was heard,
Of all my Judges, most my Foe appear'd;
Not suffer'd in my own Defence to plead,
Invented Mischiefs to my Charge he laid;


That I to Bullinbrook's Designs agreed,

Bullingbrook and Southwell, convicted with the Duchess of Sorcery.

And by my Presence justify'd the Deed;
That I assisted at their Magick Rites,
Convers'd with Goblins and familiar Sprights;
That Southwell was by my procurement won,
And all by Beauford's watchful Cunning known.
Why shou'd the Bastard be allow'd to vaunt
Himself descended of the famous Gaunt?
Who gave him out of Charity his Name,
To hide the Foundling and his Parents shame:
For if Report of ancient Times be true,
He ne'er his Father nor his Mother knew:
For this he practis'd Murder on his Son,
By Henry's Death, to seize on Henry's Throne.
By him a bold Assassin was convey'd,
And near the Royal Bed in ambush laid:
The Victor Prince had perish'd by his Sword,
Had not a Dog more faithful sav'd his Lord:

The Cardinal was accus'd of endeavouring to get Henry V. assassinated, and 'tis said, a Dog in the King's Chamber discover'd the Murderer.

The Queen, the Prelate and her Minion Pooll,
The King and Kingdom at their pleasure Rule:


Among their Fav'rites they our Wealth divide,
And all too little to maintain their Pride:
The King does nothing but the Name enjoy,
His States these govern, and will soon destroy.
Late may the Hour of our Destruction come,
But 'tis too plain to doubt if we consume:
May my Lord live from their Attempts secure,
Tho' who is under such Protection sure?
Oh, that thou wou'dst thy Glouster's Stile refuse!
Some other Title and Distinction chuse:
The Name, I fear, is fatal to thy House,
To them as it has prov'd, 'twill prove to us:
When I fore-see thy future Danger near,
I often wish thee banish'd with me here:
Farewel, my Lord, my last adieu receive,
'Tis all, alas! that I have left to give.


Duke Humphrey to Elnor Cobham.

Can I forget thee, or behold thy Fall
By me unpity'd, tho' 'twas wish'd by all?
Swifter than Shades our fleeting Pleasure flies,
But Grief is sooner born, and later dyes.
Such cruel Thoughts of me thou wou'dst suppress,
If thou cou'dst judge Impartial in Distress.
In all thy Trouble I have had my share,
Thy Wrongs are mine, thy Shame and thy Despair.
How was I struck when Fame and Envy spread
That Elnor, guilty, was from Justice fled.
Of black Designs and hellish Arts accus'd,
By Onlye and the Witch of Eye abus'd.
That for the King's Destruction she conbin'd,
With invocated Fiends in Counsel joyn'd.
Were Henry wasted by a Magick Fire,
And melting by degrees shou'd thus expire.


As in his Picture he consum'd away,
His Person shou'd insensibly decay.
This pierc'd my Soul, and I for thee began
By fear, to find I was no more than Man.
Were the Wounds heal'd which for thy Wrongs I feel,
Thine might continue to afflict me still.
But how can I, from all Infection free,
Forget thy Sorrow while I think on thee?
When thou art hurt, can I be free from Pain?
Or shoud'st thou by thy self the mighty Load sustain?
My Soul for light Afflictions has no room,
Compleatly wretched I'm by thine become.
Tho' absent, thy Misfortunes rack my Mind,
Thy Shame, tho' thou art gone, remains behind.
Tho' from thy Husband thou art forc'd to part,
Thy mournful Image never leaves his Heart.
No Eyes bewail, none pity our Distress,
Our Grief the more, howe'er, our Debt the less.


The Crowds good Wishes are from us estrang'd,
Their changing Love is with our Fortune chang'd.
A Fate which ne'er shou'd disappoint the Wise,
They court the Happy, but the rest despise.
What cou'd so far thy wild resentment move?
Again to charge me with a forein Love?
To former Ills 'tis time to bid adieu,
We find enough to plague us in the New.
Have not I tenderly thy Usage mourn'd?
And thy Complaints with mutual plaints return'd?
Did I unkindly in this hour forbear,
For Sigh to answer Sigh, and Tear for Tear?
Or seeming unconcern'd did I neglect,
Those Signs of Love, your Sex so much affect?
Cou'd any guess or by my Dress or Mien,
My Thoughts were undisturb'd, my Heart serene?
Did none discover when, or how I griev'd?
Nor in my Looks, my Discontent perceiv'd?
Is this your Quarrel with me you shou'd know,
No troubles are so strong as silent Wo.


If in my Breast unutter'd they remain,
They are still there, and still I live in pain:
Affliction by Concealment is increas'd,
It lessens when exprest, when known, 'tis eas'd.
What of her Wealth to me has England lent?
Examine what she has receiv'd or spent.
Like her true Son, I have obedient prov'd,
Yet am I, tell me, like a Son belov'd?
A spurious Offspring must my Rival be,
Set up to stand between the Throne and me.
Must I with him my Priviledge dispute,
The Realms shall judge it, and his Plea confute.
Is Wisdom mighty oft, when Force is weak,
Let France, how much she owes my Counsels speak?
Cravant, Vernoyl and Egincourt can tell,

Three famous Battles fought in France, Duke Humphrey, a great Counsellor in this Expedition.

How by my Conduct there, her Armies fell.
If Faith deserves, my Title must succeed,
Who kept the Crown on Harry's Infant Head.

Henry Beauford Cardinal of Winchester receiv'd the Hat at Calais, against the Command of his Nephew King Henry V.


If I can merit by a Patriot's Cares,
My Youth cou'd early shew her Silver Hairs.
Am I made Glorious by the Peoples Fame,
With the best Honours they adorn my Name?
If Plots discover'd and incessant Toil,
Declare that I have lov'd or serv'd our Isle.
If happy Embassies my worth enlarge,
None better did the Trust, or cou'd discharge.
For me, if England, wou'd all Europe hear,
She wou'd not Beaufort's purple Robe prefer.
Rome's Pardons shou'd no more our Gold devour,
Nor o'er the Kings the Priest advance his Pow'r.
He shou'd no Taxes on the People lay,
Nor they Contribute what the Church shou'd pay.
Whate'er he says, his ghostly Councils aim,
To ruin ours, and set up Langly's claim.

The House of Cambridge descended from Edmund Langly Duke of York, a younger Brother to John of Gaunt; they claim'd the Crown by another Title, from Lionel of Clarence, an elder Brother of the Duke of Lancaster.

He leads young Henry in unwholsome ways,
To raise the House of York, his own betrays:
We from the Blood of Lancaster descend,
From Cambridge, they, tho' Clarence they pretend.


Strange, that himself from mighty Gaunt deriv'd,
Shou'd wish his Children of their Right depriv'd.
From Henry, Cambridge wou'd the Crown have torn,
And snatcht the Laurels by my Father worn.
With Grey and Scrope he secret Treasons laid,
To murder Her'ford, and his Rights invade.
From March and Mortimer he boasts his Line,
Whom Glendour aided in their bold Design.
With him and Percy for the Crown declar'd,
And the divided Realm in equal Portions shar'd.
This Beauford knows, and to embroil the State,
Wou'd fain revive our Houses ancient Hate.
Stern Mowbray by the Priest will be restor'd,

An ancient Grudge between the Houses of Lancaster and Norfolk, since Mowbray Duke of Norfolk was banish'd for the Accusation of Henry Duke of Her'ford afterwards King Henry IV.

To raise new Tumults, and insult his Lord.
No Time nor Distance can his humour change,
But still on Her'ford's Race he vows Revenge.
'Twas Beauford freed our Pris'ner from his Bands,

James Stuart King of Scotland, being Pris'ner in England, marry'd the Cardinal's Niece, Daughter to John Duke of Somerset, he broke his Oath and became a great Enemy to England.

And put our Princess into faithless Hands.


Whose Husband for her dow'r attacks our Coast,
And gains by Treaty what by Arms he lost.
The Queen and Suffolk, Henry's Empire guide,
By Beauford's Head their Policy supply'd.
He sooths the Queen in her advancing Pooll,
Proud, under them, that he's allow'd to rule.
Why shou'd I talk to thee of her or him?
Thy self my Care, thy Sorrows are my Theam.
England and thou, divide my Loyal Heart,
And scarce I know which holds the greater part.
Or thou, or England, which shall I prefer,
You both are to my anxious Soul so dear:
In thee and England, I this Difference find,
England's ungrateful, and my Elnor kind.
Yet justly, tho' my Country I reprove,
For England I too oft neglect my Love.
Still art thou Elnor to my Heart as dear,
As when I saw thee first, and still thou seem'st fair.


When with the Pride of Youth thou wert array'd,
And in thy Eyes the Loves and Graces play'd.
When thy fresh Beauties most amaz'd my Sight,
And I possest thee with supream Delight.
Tho' Time and Anguish have decreas'd their Store,
Enough remains, and I desire no more.
The worst of Malice, like thy self, endure,
Thou ne'er canst be but in dejection Poor.
A while for better Days preserve thy Life,
A Princess thou art still, and still my Wife.
Let not thy Eyes by looking high renew
Thy Grief, but such as are below thee view.
The Great, whom Fortune flatters with Command,
Shall soon with us upon the level stand.
We have the dismal, they the gladsom Hours,
And when it pleases Heav'n, they shall be ours.
We weep, and they may have a time to mourn,
Whom now despise us, we in time may scorn.
Woes in extreams are too severe to last,
And worse we need not fear than what is past.


These Hopes, the wretched in Disgrace, attend,
That when Despair is at the worst, 'twill mend.
Cou'd I by bearing all, thy Pains relieve,
I only, cou'dst thou be content, wou'd grieve.
Cou'dst thou to me the pond'rous Weight resign,
The Burthen of thy Sorrow shou'd be mine,
Till the thick Clouds that o'er our Fortunes low'r,
Blow off, and we again resume our Pow'r.
And now, methinks, a beam of Hope is seen,
Our Sea grows gentle, and our Sky serene.
Thro' the black Tempest I perceive a Ray
Of Light, the happy Pledge of future Day.
Hence gloomy Thoughts for ever! Hence Despair!
And let our Love be mutual as our Care.
In Solitude and Peace let Elnor rest,
Till Heav'n again shall smile, and we again be blest.