A History of Insipids

These glosses are taken from Vivian de Sola Pinto’s notes to his edition of Poems by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (Harvard, 1953), pp. 206–211. His attribution of the poem to Rochester appears to be generally rejected now.

Grandsire Harry>Henry IV of France.

Romish bondage breaker> Henry VIII.

Conscience tender> “the Declaration of Breda issued by Charles II just before his restoration promises an ‘Indulgence to tender conscience.’”

Blood> “Thomas Blood (?1618–80), an Irish adventurer who tried to assassinate the Duke of Ormonde in 1670 and to steal the Crown jewels on 9th May 1671. … He was interrogated by Charles II in person, who was so pleased with his replies that he pardoned him and gave him back his Irish estates.”

Opdam> “Jacob Opdam or Obdam, Dutch admiral. He was defeated and killed in the naval action of 13th June 1665 when his ship blew up.”

His Highness> James, Duke of York

Bergen business> “the naval action off Bergen on 1st August, 1665, in which Rochester took part.”

Skellum> “’a rascal, scamp, scoundrel, villain’ (O.E.D.). Applied here to the Dutch treasure fleet that escaped at Bergen.”

chouse> “ ‘to dupe, cheat, trick’ (O.E.D)”

Holmes> “Sir Robert Holmes (1622–92), one of the chief English admirals of the period.”

the States> the Dutch Republic.

Spragg> “Sir Edward Spragg (killed in action 1673), one of the most brilliant naval commanders of the period.” Hans> the Dutch.

swinge>punish with blows.

Chattam> “An ironic allusion to De Ruyter’s success of Jiune 1667, when he sailed up the Medway and burnt part of an English fleet off Chatham.”

Blackheath>”The reference is probably to the army which was raised for a landing in Holland in June 1673 when Charles was allied with Louis XIV.”

Maastricht>Dutch fortress, taken by the French in1673.

D’Etrees> “Jean d’Estrees, commander of the French squadron which was sent to cooperated with the English fleet against the Dutch in the summer of 1672.”

Carewell> “A common English form of the name of Louise Rénée de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, the French mistress of Charles II and agent of Lous XIV.”

Brother James>the future James II.

Teague> “A contemptuous name for an Irish Roman Catholic.”

Robyn Viner> “Sir Robert Viner (1631-88), a goldsmith and Lord Mayor of London; he was an ardent royalist and erected a statue of Charles II in the Stocks Market or Woolchurch Market on the site of the present Mansion House.”

bankrupt King> “Viner was actually ruined by the closing of the Exchequer in January 1672, when the King is said to have owed him £416,724.”

Freeman of London> “The Lord Mayor and Chamberlain were deputed to bring to the King ‘the copy of the freedom of the City curiously written on Vellom, and adorned with Gilding after the best manner, in a large square Box of massy Gold.’”

French jade>the Duchess of Portsmouth.

Grocer> “Apparently Charles was made an honorary member of the Grocers’ Company.”