Vox Populi,

His Sacred Majestys happy return congratulated in Thirty Heroic Stanza’s

Anonymous

Edited and annotated by Jack Lynch

The poem by an unknown author, published in 1660, celebrates Charles II’s return to London after being in exile in Continental Europe during the Civil Wars and the Interregnum. The title is Latin for “the voice of the people,” and alludes to the maxim vox populi, vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

The text comes from Vox Populi: The Voice of the People, Congratulating His Majesty, King Charls the II. of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, in Thirty Heroick Stanza’s (London, 1660). Only a few obvious typos have been corrected. Brief glosses appear in the margins, and longer notes appear at the end.


Vox Populi,

His Sacred Majestys happy return
congratulated in Thirty Heroic Stanza’s

Britain behold thy King, and Royal Head,
For whom thy Nobles and Plebeians bled, plebeians = commoners
Thy common Safety, Glory, and the Sun thy = Britain’s
That ends the Night which in the Sire begun.
 
Whom absent thou so long hast doted on, [5]
The Heav’ns propitious to thy wish hath thrown propitious = favorable
Into thine Arms, that thou might know and see
T’was his Exile commenc’d thy Misery. commenc’d = that began
 
They were thy sins, not his that did engage
Him in so sad, yet Royall Pilgrimage, [10]
Whence he returns with Reliques stor’d to heal whence = from where
Thy Sick Estate, and widow’d Common-weal. estate = condition; common-weal = country
 
A Nobler Prince ne’re wore thy Diadem, diadem = crown
Of all that issu’d from that Noble Stem; stem = bloodline
Affliction made him wise, and Wisdom good, [15]
He is the best of Princes and of Blood.
 
Nor his return that made the Gallique State Gallique = French
Do homage to his Sword; nor his whom Fate
Design’d the jarring houses to compose, design’d = intended; houses = warring factions
Nor his that did, divided Britain close. [20]
 
Produc’d such quiet to his State, as we
Hope from his Soveraign Sacred Majestie,
His People’s only joy, their life, their love,
To whom all hearts as to their Center move.
 
He, he it is that can Fanatique rage, [25] fanatic
And Bedlams Quakers fury disengage,
The Elders and the Miters shall not jar, jar = quarrel
Zeal and Religion shall not henceforth war.
 
But both united Zealous Puritan,
And the Religious, Loyal Protestant [30]
Shall shake the tripple Crown, and make it know
We have Religion in the life, not show.
 
For now our Keepers and our chains are gone,
Pluto bestirs how to secure his own, Pluto = god of the underworld
Least of his despair should drive them down to Hell, [35]
They there attempt to frame a Common-weal; establish a government
 
That lech’rous House long Pandariz’d to please lech’rous = lustful; pandariz’d = pimped out
The rampant humours of State Tyrannies, humours = moods
The Monsters that for Laws forth from it came,
Would blister any modest tongue to name. [40]
 
They have out-done their Ancestors in crimes,
And Acted past belief in Future times;
Religion, Law like twins of grief lament
Th’invenom’d sting of that Tail-Parliament.
 
The Bloody Cannibals would shame to own [45] own = admit
Those Hellish Acts, this monstrous House hath done;
And cruell Tartar, barb’rous Arabs they Tartar = Mongol
Go not to Hell, through such a sanguine way. sangine = cheerful
 
But now those Meteors which we fear’d and felt, astrological events
Are by a Northern Star to vapours melt: [50]
O may they fall in Lethe’s stream, that so river of forgetfulness in Hades
Forgetting us, we may them never know.
 
And now our Bells report unto the Sky report = ring
The restitution of our Liberty;
And sacred Flames have purg’d th’infected air, [55]
The heavens now smile to welcome home the Heir.
 
Since then thou art most glorious Prince return’d,
See how thy love our loyall hearts hath burn’d;
Be thou the head, and we will Members be, members = body parts
Obedient Members to thy Laws and thee. [60]
 
Nor fear thou Treason now, we love too well
To breed up Vipers that are hatch’d in Hell:
Nor shall thy heart to thee more faithfull prove,
Then shall thy People’s fix’d and constant love.
 
No greater care doth on our spirits lye, [65]
Then how to care for (Charls) thy Majesty;
To see thee glorious, in a glorious Throne,
No great care have we then thee alone.
 
Men train’d for War attend on thy commands attend on = listen to
With Marshall Weapons in their warlike hands; [70]
What King more blest, what Subjects happier be,
Thour’t blest by them, they happy made by thee.
 
Nor may’st thou boast of some few Cohorts, we cohorts = group of soldiers
Auxiliar Legions here present to thee,
Whose daring swords do wait upon thy will, [75]
To save thine allies, and thy Foes to spill. spill = kill
 
A Legion yet of English lads there are
Born for to fight, and bred up in the Warre:
Let Monck but head them, stubborn France shall bow, bow = surrender
And humbly set her Crown upon thy brow. [80]
 
The Austrian house shall shake and quake for fear,
The Lyon’s Paw should the spread Eagle teare,
And force the vaster Continent to come;
To this your Isle for to receive its doom. doom = fate
 
Our hearts and Purses, we will ope’ together, [85]
Ask which thou wilt, we will deny thee neither: ask for whichever one you want
The first are thine, thou hast them in possession,
The latter shall be thine by free Concession. concession = grant
 
Command and have; who for a Prince so good,
Would spare to spend his treasure or his blood: [90]
We have no riches, but to spend for thee,
Our riches whil’st thou want’st are Povertie. thou want’st = you don’t have
 
Nor is your land lesse rich, then that of France,
And for her king, dares pound for pound advance;
What they do by constraint, we willing doe; [95] by constraint = out of necessity
We pray thee to receive, and thank thee too.
 
And though rich Spain be underlaid with Gold,
We’ve English Brasse, will force it from their hold;
We let them drudge to bring the Indies home, drudge = work hard
The greater part unto your Coffers come. [100] coffers = money boxes
 
The watry continent owns none but you The ocean acknowledges no one but you
As Lord; your Fleet did it long since subdue:
Nor Spain, nor Belgium dares, without you please, without = unless
To give them leave, appear upon the Seas. leave = permission
 
We have provided for you, such a Fleet [105]
As makes the Belgians tremble when they see ’t:
They’ve felt the vengeance of our Guns, and now
They think it safer then to fight, to bow.
 
Brave Mountague, he rules upon the Main,
And gallant Monck commands the Martiall Train, [110] martiall train = military forces
That, shall your Forreign foes ship down to hell,
This shall Domestick flames and fury quell.
 
See how the People throng unto the Town,
To see your brows invested with a Crown: invested = dressed
And thus by me they doe Congratulate [115]
Your blest return, to this now-blessed State.
 
Long live our Cæsar, our Augustus long,
May he triumph over our hearts and tongue’s,
Our hearts shall love, our tongues his praises sing:
Both heart and tongue, now cry, God save the King. [120]
 
Floreat Rex Angliæ. Floreat, floreat.

Notes

ends the night
Charles II’s restoration to the throne marked the end of the Interregnum, a dark time for royalists.
his exile
When the Civil Wars began, Charles II fled England and spent nearly two decades in France and Italy.
royal pilgrimage
Charles’s years abroad are here treated as as religious journey.
reliques
In Catholicism, relics — usually preserved body parts of saints — were believed to have healing powers.
Bedlams Quakers fury
Bedlam was the unofficial name of the largest mental hospital in London (officially St. Mary Bethlehem). It has lent its name to insane behavior. When this poem was written, “Quaker” was a term of contempt for religious extremists; later it became a more neutral term for one religious sect, the Religious Society of Friends.
elders and miters
“Elders” were the leaders in the hierarchy of the Puritan Protestant religions (the Greek word for elder is presbyter, giving us the word Presbyterian); miters — a kind of pointy hat — symbolize authority under Roman Catholicism. England took pride in embodying a moderate kind of Protestantism that avoided the extremism of either Puritans or Catholics.
zealous Puritan
Puritans were the Protestants who thought the Church of England did not go far enough in rejecting Catholicisms, and wanted to return the Church to its original purity.
tripple crown
The pope wears a three-tiered tiara, so the triple crown is a symbol of Roman Catholicism. The poet says both the more extreme and the more modest Protestants will come together to form a united front against Catholicism.
Tail-Parliament
The so-called “Rump Parliament” of 1648 — so called from the few members left over after a famous purge — abolished the monarchy and ordered the execution of Charles I, father of the restored Charles II.
Monck
George Monck was a soldier who originally fought on the side of the Parliamentarians, but in 1659 he switched his support to the monarchy and made the Restoration possible. In return Charles II created him 1st Duke of Albemarle.
The Austrian house
The Holy Roman Empire, based in Austria, was a rival to Charles’s power and a stronghold of Roman Catholicism.
Lyon’s Paw should the spread Eagle teare
The lion was a symbol of English power as the Eagle was a symbol of Austrian power.
Spain
Spain, too, was a Catholic rival to England.
bring the Indies home
The seventeenth century was early in the great European age of empire, when the major European powers were making claims on territories in both India and the West Indies. Colonial enterprises — including the slave trade — would make many European nations extremely wealthy.
Mountague
Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, an admiral in England’s navy, captained the ship that brought Charles II back to England for the Restoration in 1660.
the People throng unto the Town
Charles’s arrival in London in 1660 was marked by parades and public celebrations.
our Cæsar, our Augustus
The poet likens Charles to two or Rome’s greatest leaders, Julius Caesar and his adopted son Augustus Caesar. While Julius had powers comparable to those of an emperor, Augustus was the first Roman to be titled emperor.
Floreat Rex Angliæ. Floreat, floreat.
Latin for “May the Kind of English flourish — may he flourish, may he flourish.”