News networks

by Nick

A snippet on how far newsbooks were distributed in the late 1640s:

Coventry December 15. The last Post here was intercepted a Packet of scandalous Books that were going to Lincoln, there was amongst them some book entituled, The Character of King Cromwell, The Woodstock Scuffle, and The Man in the Moon. They are very base and scandalous things, it is  a very great pity that there is no way to suppresse them, the are very prejudiciall to the Common-Wealth.

From the Perfect Diurnall, 2 (17-24 December 1649), BL, TT, E.533[31], p. 15.

The Man in the Moon was of course John Crouch’s excoriating newsbook. The Character of King Cromwell doesn’t seem to have survived, but was presumably in a similar vein to the wide variety of short, single-sheet quarto satires on Cromwell that were starting to emerge at this time. The Woodstock Scuffle is a fun doggerel poem about Sir Richard Croke and other commissioners appointed to sell Charles I’s lands being harrassed by poltergeists. It includes an attempt to crowbar in the following rhyme:

But no intreaty of his friends

Could get him to the house of fiends

He came not over for such ends

From Dutch land

But worse divinity hee brought

And hath us reformation taught

And with our money he hath bought

Him much land

Bad poetry or not, I like the idea of a seditious "care package" being put together in London for beleaguered royalists in the Midlands.

In other news: it is 1.30am on a work night, and I have just passed the 10,000 word mark on my dissertation.