An acrostic on the city of Gloucester

by Nick

Wasting time with EEBO, part 96. This morning I came across the following acrostic written in manuscript in the Thomason Tracts:

To Collonel Edward Massie

Greatness of Spirit and a faithfull Heart
Lodging in thee, & acting each his part
On my behalfe, attended with success
Unparalleled, this story doth express
Considering which deserved love affords
Even to lodge thee in my cheife records
Still shalt thou live with men in fame sublime
Till that eternity shall swallow Time
Exalting the prime Agent, whose great name
Retrives into it selfe all, mortalls same

Decemb 1st 1647 John Dorney
Towne Clarke
of Gloucester

It’s written in Thomason’s own hand. I find his italics difficult sometimes so transcribing this was a good exercise in paleography. Quite how it ended up in Thomason’s collection, I’m not sure: no secondary works seem to reference the poem.

It’s possible that it was pasted up somewhere in print and Thomason transcribed it, but it seems more likely that Thomason transcribed it from another manuscript copy that was passed on to him. The timing makes this possibility particularly interesting. December 1647 was several years after Massey’s stint as Governor of Gloucester, and half a year after the Presbyterians failed attempt to take control control of London and Massey’s flight to the Netherlands. Thomason was also a Presbyterian, active in London politics during the late 1640s. John Dorney (not Downey as Thomason has copied it) was town clerk of Gloucester under Massey and can be assumed to have shared some of his political views, given the encomium he wrote. So at a guess this might represent some kind of manuscript circulation network amongst the defeated Presbyterians (not dissimilar to the manuscript networks amongst royalists).