Description

    John Suckling. Fragmenta Aurea: A Collection of All the Incomparable Peeces, Written by Sir John Suckling. And Published by a Friend to perpetuate his Memory. [with Contemporary Ms poems] London: printed [sic] [by Thomas Warren, William Wilson(?), and Edward Griffen(?)] for Humphrey Moseley, 1648. Krown & Spellman retail: $1200. Second edition. 8vo. A4, [2[A-C8, D1 [+¹1], D2-8, E-G8, H4,[3]A-[3]E8, [3]F4, [4]A-[4]D8, [5]A-[5]C8, [5]D4. [8],3-48, [interpolated 1 leaf of ms.]119,[1]; [6],82,64,[4],52p. Engraved frontispiece of Suckling by William Marshall, head-pieces. Modern full calf, blind rules, spine banded, gilt title, owner's name "George Alcock, December 9th 1717" on verso of frontispiece, penned title on title page under printed text, title page stained, corner dampstains throughout, worm track in later third of bookblock (heavier [5]B1-[5]C8 (some letters affected), foxing, occ. other stains, upper corner off last leaf. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.

    More Information:

    In this copy added on the verso of D1 and continuing on an added blank leaf in a contemporary hand are the verses "On Sr John Suckling, & the 100 Horse he gave the King in the first Scotch troubles," [36 lines of verse] followed by "His Answer" [42 lines]. [See below]

     

    Suckling, Sir John (bap. 1609, d. 1641?), poet. "First known as a gallant and gamester, Suckling became famous also as a writer. He somehow found time to write much, and often well, in a range of genres... Suckling made his mark as a poet, playwright, and belletrist, but he was a writer mainly by avocation, and by second nature. He was first and last a wit and a courtier to Charles I, being occupied mainly as a gentleman officer, socio-political observer, gamester, amorist, and marital fortune seekerÑoften impetuously and not always successfully. Rough times ended his life prematurely: heir at eighteen and prodigal as soon, he died at thirty-two in Paris, penniless and probably a suicide; the Commons judged him a traitor to parliament, to royalists he was a martyr before the king. His works circulated widely in manuscript during his lifetime and, published posthumously by Humphrey Mosely, were bought in large numbers and read with eagerness and admiration during the interregnum and after. Editions of Fragmenta aurea, the best and most important collection, were published in 1646, 1648, and 1658...

     

    From 1638 he was back in the saddle again, for most of the rest of his life. 'Attached to the court, and to the King himself, with a romantic loyalty surprising in a sceptic' (Bruce, 311), he was one of the first to volunteer and 'raysed a Troope of 100 very handsome young proper men, whom he clad in white doubletts and scarlett breeches, and scarlett Coates, hatts, and feathers, well horsed, and armed. They say 'twas one of the finest sights in those days' (Brief Lives, 289), with the cost of men and equipment said to be £12,000 (Lloyd, 159)Ñanother ready target for lampooning, which came rapidly in 'Upon Sir John Suckling's Hundred Horse' ('I tell thee Jack thou'st given the King'), which also burlesques Suckling's 'Ballade upon a Wedding'."[Oxford DNB]

     

    "Sir John Sucklinges Answer" to "Upon John Sucklings hundred horse" is a more difficult problem. All editors since Hazlitt have included it among his works, without question. It appears in Bodl. MSS. Ash. 36, 37 f. 53v-54 (where Hazlitt found it), and f. 130, Tanner 465 f. 90, B. M. MSS. Harl. 6383 f. 70, Harl. 6917 f. 57-58, Harl. 3991 f. 55-6, Eg. 923 f. 74-5, and in Wit and Drollery 1656, and Le Prince d'Amour, or The Prince of Love 1660. Professor Ebsworth in 1876 was the first one who ever doubted the authorship, when he said that it "has a smack of Cleveland about it (it certainly is not Suckling's) ..."26 We wish that we could be as certain, but at least the probabilities are against Suckling's authorship. First, both the satire and the answer were obviously written before the engagement at Berwick, May 1639, because they look forward to the war, now known as the first Bishops' War. If they had been written after the rout of the English forces, they would have undoubtedly mentioned the particularly ignoble role that Suckling's horse played; they would have been more like "Sir John got him an ambling nag" (MS. Harl. 3991 f. 44-5, Musarum Deliciae 1655, The Second Book of the Pleasant Musical Companion 1686, and Wit and Mirth 1699, 1707-9). At a moment before the big march northward, we would expect the poet-soldier to be too busy to bother with some silly lampoon. [Footnote: It is important to observe that "Upon Sir John Sucklin's Hundred Horse" is written in the same stanza form as "A Ballade. Upon a Wedding" and begins with the same words, "I tell thee Jack ..." parodying "I tell thee Dick. ..." We know that "I tell thee Jack ..." was written before May 1639, hence "I tell thee Dick ..." must have been written even earlier than the spring of 1639. ]

     But if we reject the poem from the canon, the rejection must be on a firmer basis; internal evidence is all that remains. It is enlightening to compare the versification of this piece with the use of the same stanza in "A Ballade. Upon a Wedding." The genuine Suckling poem is colloquial, flexible, full of interrupters, easy. Lines such as

    Passion oh me! how I run on!

    There's that that would be thought upon,

    (I trow) besides the Bride.

    are beyond the powers of the author of "I tell thee, Jack ..." The crudity of

    But now I am John for the King

    You say I am but a poor Suckling ...

    is certainly more characteristic of Cleveland than Suckling. Therefore I believe that this poem belongs in the category of rejected poems. "

    [The Canon of Sir John Suckling's Poems" L. A. Beaurline in: Studies in Philology 57, no. 3 (July 1960): 492-518.]

     

    Wing S6127. Wither to Prior 828. Pforzheimer 997.  ESTC r7002. Hazlitt I,411.

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