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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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Queen Isabel, Daughter of Philip the Fair King of France, and Wife to Edward II. King of England, being very much enrag'd to see her self despis'd by her Husband and his Minions, engag'd the Valiant young Lord Roger Mortimer, in her Interest, who with several Potent Barons took Arms to rescue the King out of his Favourites Hands, and restore the Queen to the dignity of her Rank; but both Mortimer, and the Barons were defeated, himself imprison'd in the Tower, whence by the help of a sleepy Portion the Queen sent him he deceiv'd his Guards, and escap'd to France. She writes to him, and Congratulates his safety, and Mortimer replys as became a Person she had very much oblig'd.

Queen Isabel to the Lord Mortimer.

Till late, my Mortimer was wont to see
Mirth, Pleasure, Gaiety, and Joy in me.


My Letter now can bring him no relief,
So much my Mind's distracted by my Grief.
Yet by my Pity I my Friendship prove,
And what my Temper wants, supply with Love.
Why do I mourn? and how can I forbear?
Does Wigmore's

The Mortimers, Lords of Wigmore and Earls March.

absence not deserve a Tear?

When I reflect, how we were forc'd to part,
My weeping Eyes, betray my akeing Heat.
But thinking 'twas to save and set thee free,
My Troubles cease, and I rejoyce in Thee.
This to my Soul some little Comfort gives,
My Sorrow soothes, and my Care relieves.
And thus amid the Torments I endure,
I flatter the Desease, I cannot Cure.
Blest be the Stars, anspicious to your flight,
To Love, and Lovers ever blest the Night.
The Air was gentle, and the Sky serene,
And all things slept, but Wigmore and the Queen.
The luckiest Minute of our Lives we chose,
Releas'd the Hero, and deceiv'd his Foes.


I dreaded much when I prepar'd the Juice,

Mortimer invited Sir Stephen Segrave Constable of the Tower, with his Officers, to Feast with him on his Birth-day the Potion the Queen sent him, he put into their Wine, which set them asleep, and thus he escap'd, swimming over the River to the Kentish shore.

Or I might err, or that its Vertue lose.
Or Fortune, seldom to the Gallant kind,
Ruin the Project we so well design'd.
Our Arts by other secret Arts oppos'd,
Be thus made useless, or our Plot disclos'd.
Fond of thy Safety, then I call to mind,
The Drugs which we in ancient Fable find.
And often wish'd for those the Poets dream,
To grow by Latmos, or by Lethe's Stream.
The Herbs that clos'd the watchful Dragon's Eyes,
And gave the Grecian Youth the Golden Prize.
Or those which Africk's sooty Lands produce,
Or Indian Weeds and their malignant Juice.
Soon as the Sun display'd his Orient Beams,
I Walkt, where none observ'd me, by the Thames.
My Thoughts on Mortimer were all employ'd,
This Stream, I cry'd, has sav'd him, or destroy'd.
Oft of the Chrystal Current I demand,
Or, is he Lost? or, has he reach'd the Land?


Say, for to thee, and to the faithless Wind,
The Lord of all my Wishes I resign'd.
Hast thou convey'd him on a gentle Wave,
To the wish'd Shoar? or, is thy Deep his Grave?
Tell me, Oh tell! for I impatient wait,
To Joy in his Escape, or share his Fate.
But sure, if thus my Mortimer had dy'd,
A rougher Gale wou'd swell the guilty Tide.
The Tempest in the furious Billows roar,
And the Winds drive him breathless to the Shoar.
The Winds so silent, and the quiet Stream,
Reproach my Weakness, and my Fears condemn.
The River Nymphs at my Confusion laugh,
And all things tell me, Mortimer is safe.
Where are the boasted Wonders of my Eyes?
That Edward thus can leave me or despise.
When Europe's Monarchs at our Nuptials met,

Prince Edward married the Princess Isabel at Bulloigne where the Kings of the Romans, Navarr and Sicily, with the Flowers of the English and French Nobility were present, and the Pomp of the Tilts very magnificent. This Princess was the eldest and only Daughter of Philip the Fair, and Sister to Charles IV. King of France, on whose Death, the Kingdom fell to Edward II. in right of his Wife; and the Kings of England have ever since born the Arms of France, and asserted their Right to that Crown with different Success.

With Envy they beheld him at my Feet.
For this did I prefer him to the rest,
To be soon abandon'd for a Beast?


Can I endure to see a wanton Boy,

King Edward gave to Gaveston his Favourite, the Jewels and Treasures his Father left him, marrying him to his Niece by his Sister Ican and Gilbert Clare Earl of Glocester; he liv'd with this Youth (suppos'd to be of a spurious Birth, and a Gascoign by Nation) in all manner of Riot and Wantonness.

Possess his Favour, and my Place enjoy?
If Old, Deseas'd, or Ugly I were grown,
'Twere vain to think to be belov'd alone.
But since I'm Young, and as they tell me, Fair,
A Rival Minion, I no more will bear:
No more the Daughter of a Mighty King,
Stoop to the Fortune of a nameless Thing.
To me his Gifts, to me his Love belongs,
And ev'ry Monarch shou'd resent my Wrongs.
In me the Royal Dignity's profan'd,
And Beauty with the basest Scandal stain'd.
A Princess Young and Fair to be bereft,
Of right and Favour for a Minion left.
Edward by Gav'ston, and his Imps bewitch'd,
With Towns and Treasures has the Wretch enrich'd.
His spurious Blood with Noble Glo'ster's mix'd,
A Shame eternal on his House has fix'd.


Did the First Edward lead his Warlike Bands,

This weak Prince offer'd his right in France to the French King, and his right in Scotland to Robert Bruce, if they would aid him in the War against the Barons, on the account of Gaveston.

To Conquer for the second Forein Lands:
That what with Glory, and with Toil he won,
Might wantonly be lavish'd by his Son.
Supported by the King, the Boy pretends,
To crush his Kindred, and insult his Friends:
One, whom his Father with his latest Breath,
Forbad his Presence, and condemn'd to Death.
This to the Nobles was his last Command,
Gav'ston shall die, if seen on English Land.
True to his Will, the faithful Barons stood,
Confirm'd by Oaths, and seal'd it with their Blood.
The Lords to force him from their Master, rise,
And Lancaster is slain, and Warwick dies.

Thomas Earl of Lancaster, and Guy Earl of Warwick, swore to the late King Edward, they would withstand his Son, if he did not throw off Gaveston, and were slain in attempting it.

No sooner are we yet from Gav'ston freed,
Than Slaves as wretched in his place succeed.
The Spencers

The Spencers, Father and Son, when Gaveston was gone, fill'd his Place, the Son was made Lord Chancellor, and the Father, Earl of Winton, as great Villains both, as the other. They fell afterwards, and had the same Fate with Gaveston.

now enjoy what he possest,

The People beggar'd, and the Lords deprest.


Edward has only chang'd the Fav'rites Name,
The same their Pow'r, their Tyranny the same.
Honours and Riches, like the first they get,
And will, the Ruin he began, Compleat.
He wasts his Father's Conquests and his Store,
To leave his Son contemptible and poor.
Of this, I often have with with Tears complain'd,
And highly Injur'd, no relief obtain'd.
For Tyrants who delight in doing Ill,
Grow worse, if any dare oppose their Will.
The Senate only can our Wrongs redress,
And right the Queen, and give the Nation Peace.
To Punishment deserv'd, the Traytors bring,
Expose their Guilt, and undeceive the King.
Not long my Brother these Affronts will bear,
Not long will his Allies refuse the War.
Justice alike, to him and me deny'd,
Enough his Patience, oft provok'd, is try'd.
The ancient Homage which to France you owe,

Edward I. did homage for these Provinces to the King of France.

For Aquitain, for Guienne and Poitou.


A Sister's Suffering, and a Brother's Right,
For this, who wou'd not, will for nothing Fight.
Revenge for past, and fear of future Harms,
Will rouse the animated Gauls to Arms.
Troops will from ev'ry distant Province come,
In hopes to drive the bold Invaders home.
The Sturdy Flamand, and the Stout Almain,
Breton and Norman to the hostile Plain:
All to the Royal Ensign will repair,
And joyn with Fury in the righteous War.
When Mortimer the fierce Battalion heads,
They're sure of Conquest, whom the Hero leads.
Think of the Honours of thy Martial Race,
Thy bleeding Nation, and thy Queen's Disgrace.
But if the boasted Valour of thy Name,
Thy Father's Laurels, and thy proper Fame:
If nor thy Country, nor thy injur'd House,
Thy drooping Spirits in distress can rouse;


Let my last Service thy Compassion move,
And what you owe to Glory, give to Love:
Engage my Brother in his Sister's Cause,
To punish Traytors, and protect the Laws.
How vain? For me a Woman to desire,
To add new Heat to thy Immortal Fire.
Too forward of thy self, to rush on Fate,
Nor need'st to be provok'd by Love or Hate.
To us Misfortune's so familiar grown,
I rather shou'd prevent, than push thee on;
Since by opposing, we encrease our Pains,
Death seems the only Comfort which remains.
Well, I remember, and shall ne'r forget,

The Barons Forces receiv'd a great overthrow at Burrough-Bridge in York-shire, by the Earl of Carlisle, Commander for the King.

How much we suffer'd by our last Defeat.
When the best Blood that flow'd in English Veins,
A fatal Deluge! dy'd the Northern Plains.
So weak we then appear'd, so low we fell,
The Slaves are too much frighten'd to rebel.


The Reverend Peer, by whose Advice we go,

Torlton, Bishop of Hereford, a Favourite of the Queen's and Morrimer's Faction.

Of late's become suspected by the Foe.
So difficult in such Important Things,
To hide, what many watch, the Fate of Kings.
My Thoughts, My Words, if often I repeat,
'Tis Grief which makes me, what I write forget.
My Sorrows, fast, as they are told, renew,
Beginning still, when I wou'd bid adieu.
This, the best Token of my Love, receive,
'Tis little, but 'tis all I have to give.


Lord Mortimer to Queen Isabella.

Cou'd I such Comfort, as you sent, return,
The Queen, like Mortimer, wou'd cease to mourn:
What Pleasure in my Letters will you find?
Where every Word's the Picture of my Mind.
The dread of dying like a Slave remains,
And I think still, as if I wrote in Chains.
My Words, my Thoughts, are like my Fortune, low,
With too much Care deprest, and too much Woe.
Twice from my Queen I have my Life receiv'd,

The two Mortimers, Roger Lord of Wigmore, and his Uncle the elder Lord Mortimer, were apprehended first in the West, and the Queen, by means of Torlton Bishop of Hereford, and Beak Bishop of Durham and Patriarch of Jerusalem, then in great Favour, prevail'd so much with the King, that he was pacifi'd, and consented to forgive the Mortimers on their Submission.

Once sav'd from Murder, and from Death Repriev'd:
My Life, and all that I by her enjoy,
To Right her, or Revenge her I'll employ.
I ne'r had ventur'd from the dangerous Height,
Amid the Foe, and Terrors of the Night.


With waxen Wings I never had presum'd,
To fly the Death to which my Friends were doom'd:

The Lord Mortimer was condemn'd for his insurrection with Thomas Earl of Lancaster, and Bobun Earl of Hereford, he lay under the Sentence of Death three Months, and by the sleepy Potion he receiv'd from the Queen, deceiv'd his Guard and escap'd a few days before the time appointed for his Execution; he got down by Ladders made of Cords, and the Spectators were much surpris'd to see afterwards from what height he ventur'd, having then the River of Thames to swim.

The dreadful Deep had turn'd my giddy Head,
And falling, I had met, the Fate I fled.
The Foe, with Horror, view'd the wondrous Height,
And scarce believ'd, when they were told my Flight.
So many Perils I had never run,
But a Queen's Love and Beauty urg'd me on.
I launch'd undaunted in the airy Sea,
By your Eyes, lighted thro' the dubious Way.
The wat'ry Element, I then explore,
And the Waves left me on the friendly Shore.
My Goddess, you, to whom I only pray'd,
And to your Beauty all my Vows were made,
My Pray'r you answer'd, and my Vows repaid.
The sleepy Potion which your Art prepar'd,
Work'd as you wish'd it, and secur'd the Guard.


With ghastly Steps I reach'd the Depths profound,
Descended Safe, and trod the solid Ground.
The liquid Paths, I like Leander try'd,
Your Eyes, as Hero's were the Youth's, my Guide.
A fairer Image, to my mind, I set,
A better Fate deserv'd, a better met.
At your Command, the Winds their Fury cease,
And curl the Waters with a wanton Breeze.
Thus Dancing on the sportive Waves I ride,
Born by the Billows to the safer Side.
Proud my of Freedom, I my Course persue,
For nothing wish'd, for nothing griev'd, but You.
My fear, the Foe by my scape enrag'd,
The Ills which you have since endur'd, presag'd.
To leave you thus expos'd, my Joy allay'd,
More of your Safety, than my own afraid.
Not long shall Spencer Laugh at my Disgrace,

The Spencers then great with the King, knew they could not be safe while such a turbulent Spirit as the Lord Mortimer was in England, and their Enemy.

Nor long the Nation and my Queen oppress.
If England shou'd 'n her Assistance grant,
She more will me, than I shall England want.


This odious Exile, may our Cause advance,
And what it lost in England, get in France.
Fame the great Actions of my Fathers spreads,
Their Bounty, Vertue, and Heroic Deeds.
The British Order in our House renew'd,

Roger, called the Great Lord Mortimer, Grand-father to this young Lord who was afterwards Earl of March, erected a round Table at Kenelworth in Warwick-shire, where was one of the most magnificent Castles in England, for a hundred Knights and a hundred Ladies, and the Entertainment of all Adventurers from any Part of Christendom, in imitation of Arthur's.

Confirms the ancient Honours of our Blood.
To Kenelworth, the Warrior Knights repair,
And prove their Might, and justifie the Fair.
None went from Mortimer, or poor, or griev'd,
The Wrong were righted, and the Poor reliev'd.
The Scots, while Wigmore led our Armies forth,
Ne'r ventur'd to disturb the peaceful North.
They ne'er for Plunder wander'd from their Bounds,
Nor sent the English back with shameful Wounds.
To Edward's Valour, and to ours they yield,
For Dead, as Living, Edward won the Feild.

Edward I. order'd at his Death, that his Bones should be carry'd into Scotland by his Successors, in their Wars, being perswaded by a Prophecy, that the English wou'd be fortunate while he or his Bones were with them.

But the Son's Actions stain the Father's Fame,
And Edward now is an inglorious Name.
Ne'er will his Flight at Strivcling be forgot,

Edward II. made a very great Expedition against Scotland, where he lost near the River Bamocksburn by Striveling upwards of 60000 Men, the only considerable overthrow the Scots ever gave the English. Edward carry'd his Minions, and they theirs with them to this War, for which they prepar'd with excess of Riot and Disorder.

An Honour to our Foes, to us, a Blot.


In wanton Revels he consum'd the Night,
And reeling from his Tent, began the Fight:
Happy, that Mortimer was then afar,
Nor shar'd the Scandal of the Minions War.
His Infamy I hear where e'er I come,
Despis'd abroad, as he's abhor'd at home.
Aid of a Thousand Nations I'll implore,
Of People, and and of States unknown before,
Far as our Navy spreads her Canvas Wings,
I'll seek for Succour from the distant Kings.
From Asia Troops, and from the Banks of Nile,
Shall joyn with Wigmore, and invade our Isle.
Or Traytors shall no more the King abuse,
Our Rights to Me, nor to my Queen refuse.
Their Lands we'll ravage, and their Cities burn,
And justly their Injustice will return.
We'll seek them with our Armies and our Fleet,
And, in the dusty Field, the Tyrant meet.
Nor tamely wait till he persues us here,
But brave his Fury and insult his Fear.


The Minions and their Master's Pow'r we'll try,
Nor Fight like Pyrats, nor in ambush lie.
With our shrill Trumpets and repeated Cries,
We'll fright the Air and rend the vaulted Skies.
The shining Corslet and the golden Shield,
With all the graceful Terror of the Field:
The Crest, the Lance, the prancing Sreed prepar'd,
They'll fear us in their turn, whom late we fear'd.
Our Fleet attending the propitious Gales,
To plow the watry way, and fill the Sails:
A Guest unwelcom to the Thames shall come,
And raise with forein Oars his silver Foam:
Along his flow'ry Banks shall proudly Coast,
And Mortimer triumphant, land his Host.
A num'rous Band, from diff'rent Regions chose
Our Friends to Succour, and Chastise our Foes.
Rome, to our Arms, her Thunders too will joyn,

Pope Clement V. sent Guastelline and Lucas, two Cardinals, into England, to compose the Differences between King Edward and the Barons, to whose desire the King seem'd to comply, and while they were in England, appear'd willing to keep the Peace, but as soon as they left him he broke his Promise, began the War with Thomas Earl of Lancaster, and was accurst at Rome.

Our Cause, by her Resentment, made Divine.
Whatever Prince to Tyranny pretends,
Must make Religion, and the Priests his Friends.


But Edward, wisely, first offended Rome,
And Persecutes his Subjects then at Home.
Curst by the Church, and whom the Church has curst,
Or soon, or late, are sure to have the worst:
Who fears not Mortimer, the Church may dread
The best Pretence, and what will still succeed.
Since every Fool, at least, has so much Zeal,
However, he obeys to wish her well.

There are two many at this day who pretending Zeal for a Church, whose Doctrines they neither practise nor understand, hide by this their Interest and Ambition, make themselves heads of Parties, and deceive the unthinking Crowd with their plausible Pretences, as there are many inferior Wretches, who Quarrel, Drink and Swear for the Faith and Ceremonies of which they have no manner of Notion.

Guyenne and Aquitain, the French invade,

Charles IV. then King of France, invaded those Provinces which were at that time subject to the Crown of England, stirr'd to it by the perswasion of the exile Mortimer, in hopes to favour the Queen his Sister's Cause by it. They had been long in possession of the English, whom the French often attempted to dispossess.

For Homage, or deny'd or long delay'd.
Their King enrag'd will meet a weak Defence,
And quickly will his Army drive us thence.
The Towns which so much Blood and Treasure cost,
An easie Conquest, will to Charles be lost.
The Gauls to England will no more submit,
Their past Subjection, and their Fears forget.
Nor from our Bows, nor from our Lances fly,

The English Bow-men, as famous in those days, as their Infantry are now; that by the confession of the French our Enemies, were the last disorder'd in the late War, and the first in any dangerous Attack. Busside Rabutin's Life of Lewis XIV.

But scorn our Weakness and our Pow'r defie.


Shake off their Chains, their Libety maintain,
Nor soon will yield to be our Slaves again.
The Valiant Bruce shall in your Brother's Aid,

Bruce King of Scotland, and an ally to Charles.

The Northern Counties with his Scots invade.
Death, Fire and Ruin will the Realm surround,
And War on every side our Foes confound.
The Tyrant frighted shall resign his Crown,
And a Third Edward fill the vacant Throne.
Whose future Laurels will restore the Name,
To its first Glory, and increase its Fame.
Her'ford and Warwick in our Quarrel dead,

The Earls of Lancaster and Warwick, who fell at Pomfret were thought to be Saints by the People when dead, as they were their Favourites when living. Great Miracles were reported to be done by their Relicts. They canoniz'd also Bobun Earl of Hereford, slain at Burrough Bridge, and if there are any worthy of such Divine Honour, they are certainly those who die in Defence of their Religion, their Country, and their Liberties: none being more profligate and wicked, nor more worthy of Hate when living, and Scorn when dead, than those who for Revenge or Advancement, contrive the Ruin of their Country by encouraging Factions and Discontents, and that Person must make an abominable Patriot, who never was against betraying his Country till he could not have the Profit of it, and has since been the most forward when it was most in his Power, and he could do it with most Advantage.

Are Saints and Martyrs by the People made:
Their sacred Relicts by the sick are worn,
And Cripples to their Graves for Cure are born.
Their Love to us, we may by them perceive,
For them they wou'd'n, or for us wou'd grieve.
So Fav'rite mighty, as he is, and Great,
Shall e'er possess our Wigmore's ancient Seat.

Wigmore, a Seat in Hereford shire, belonging to the Mortimers, who were Earls of the Marches of Wales, or Lords of the Borders.

With his new Trophies he shall ne'er debase,
The long descended Houours of our Race.


Nor Son, nor Father lead our Vassals forth,
To fight the Traytor's Battles in the North.
Ne'er be the Guardians of the British Pales,
Defending England, or preserving Wales.
Our Wrongs had been at first redress'd with ease,
They grow with time, and while delay'd encrease.
Such Spies about us, and so oft betray'd,
Our Plots must secret and secure be laid.
Let our past Errors future Faults correct,
And Care dissemble, what our Foes suspect.
No anxious Thoughts shou'd in your Looks be seen
And still you shou'd remember, you're a Queen.
This only can your Dignity maintain,
Till Fortune in our Favour turns again.