MacLean, Gerald, editor. The Return of the King : An Anthology of English Poems Commemorating the Restoration of Charles II / edited by Gerald MacLean
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

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L'tit' Caledonic'
[undated: late summer?

   Wringing the hackneyed clichees one more time, or: is this in part a literary response to Vox Populi, which was reissued in Scotland? There claims are made about Virgil are made in some pretty apauling verses; and boasting about the potential martial loyalties of Englishmen abound: though martial fury and claims of how the people wat to die for Charles are found commonly -- see also Brome's England's Joy etc

   One of the wittiest and probably the most ironical of the poems working over the comon tropes used to celebrate the king's return, L'tit' Caledonic' opens by saying how glad he is that the great Virgil isn't around trying to celebrate such an event as the return of Charles; and the innuendo is unmistakable. But the poet's display of wit here is framed within the outdoing topos, a figure of heroic verse by which the poet insists that the subject outgoes all previous and sometimes all possible parallels. Use of this trope almost allows him to say anything. The return of Charles here is seen as so far beyond comparison that only a poetaster would attempt to find words for what is literally the "unuterable happiness" of the occasion The poet's loyalty comes with a satiric edge being sharpened at the expense of some recent goings on in London and the way other poets have written about them. How is Scoltand to express joy? Drinking toasts led to so much rowdiness that they were banned the very day -- 30 May -- after Charles had arrived in Whitehall, and that ban immediately put an end to all the drunken bragging about how we'll all go to sea and beat the Dutch.

    Of interest in Scotland, the Solemn League and Covenant had been reissued by Parliament on 5 March, but only a very foolish king would believe that it promised him safety. The poetic voice is that of a canny analyst of the times, someone who can read between the lines of events and proclamations. Given the wit and this cannyness, all the more credible seem the fairly straitforward expressions of loyalty that end the poem.


Upon the thrise happy Return of Her
Sacred Soveraign CHARLES
the Second, Monarch of Great
Britain, &c.

WHat Poetaster bold dare undertake;
An Embleme of my mirth in rime to make?
The tongues of Men and Angels, should but wrong
This Theam, so far transcending any Song:
My Loyalty likewise it would Eclipse,
5: If't were definable by humane lips.
Old Maro sure would blush, if he were here,
And gall'd with this disaster, shed a tear;
His soaring quill, which many Triumphs wrot,
Should in defining this, its Triumphs blot:
10: Parnassus Nymphs also, I dare be bound,
Would curse their native Soil, for barren ground.
That disproportion vast when they should see;
'Twixt their best notions, and this extasie.
How then shall Caledon, her sense expresse
15: Of this unuterable happiness?
This blest Arrivall of her Soveraign brings
That true Vice-gerent of the King of King;
Shal't be with flying cups? O that's not fit!
His Sacred MAJESTY prohibits it.
20: Shal't be with ranting swaggering bravado's,
We will do wonders 'gainst his foes Armado's?
This neither will suffice, himself can tell,
This is the Dialect 'bout Bacchus Well. 1
Shall we renewing Covenants, engage, 2
25: His Person to defend, and Royall badge? 3
No He'll ne'r trust's thee more; (and who can blame him?)
Nor Tongue, nor Hand, that stop't e're to disclaim him:
What then shall our deportment be, and how,
Shall we do homage to that Sacred brow?
30: That brow! whose sweet appearance hath undone
Those miseries, our follies had begun:
Ev'n this; each Loyall Heart shall undertake,
With resolution, recompence to make,
By strong endeavours, never to back-slide
35: Into these principles, did us divide
From our Alleageance; shun equivocations
As Popish practices, to crush the Nations.
Each sparkle of rebellion let us smoother,
And to that purpose strengthen one another:
40: Each Overture that's made, before 't's appointed.
Let's ponder well, let not the Lord's Anointed
Get any prejudice from what we do,
Give him that right the Scripture doth allow.
This will as in one Atome us unite,
45: And to commend us, forraign Pens invite:
This will the Moderns move aloud to praise us,
And our Posterities shall Trophees raise us,
With this Inscription, Blessed be our Sires,
Their Countrys honour bounded their desires;
50: Whose souls expiring, Loyally did sing
With firme Devotion, long may our Soveraign Raign.


[1] Ludlow noted that there was so much drunkeness on the night of 29 May "that the king, who still stood in need of the presbyterian party which had betrayed all into his hands, for their satisfaction, caused a proclamation to be publish'd, forbidding the drinking of healths" (1751 edition Memoirs, p. 348). Thomason dated A Proclamation against Vicious, Debauch'd, and Prophane Persons on 30 May.

[2] More as a challenge to Monck than an attempt to win over prsbyterian suport, Commons ordered the republication of The Solemn League and Covenant on 5 March.

[3] See The Covenant.