“A Libell, for an Epitaph”: The Parodic Epitaph in the Early Stuart Period
Who once a yeere duely our fleeces did sheere,
To please us his curre he chaynde to a clogg
And was himselfe after both Shepheard and dogg
For oblation to Pan his order was thus
Himselfe gave a trifle and sacrifizde us
And so with his wysedome this provident Swayne
Kept himselfe on the mountayne and us on the playne
Where many a fine Hornepipe he tund’e to his Phillis
And swetely sunge walsingham to Amarillis
Till Atropos payde him, a pox on the drabbe
In spight of the tarbox, he died of the scabbe.”
Or daign to parly with our Treasurer:
Had he been Thee, or of thy fatal Tribe,
He would have spar’d a life to gain a bribe.”
The badge of Usurie the Clergies curse.
The shame of weomen kind, tradsmens decay
The patronesse of pride, Extortions high way
The forge of slaunder, and each wild action
ffrend to romes whore, Spy to the Spanish faction
A bitch of court, a common slincking snake
Worse then all these, Heere lyes the Ladie Lake.”
Worthy of all the honour that may be.
And yet they lye not so for want of roome,
Or want of love in their posteritie.
Who would from living hearts vntombe such ones,
To bury under a fewe marble stones?
Vertue dyes not, her tombe we neede not raise,
Let them trust tombs which have outliv'd their praise.”
(Unlesse by stealth) a quiet grave
Hee needs no Epitaph, nor stone
But this: Here lyes lord Washington.”
Surviving frends th’expenses of A grave)
Feltons dead earth wch to the world must bee
Its owne sadd monument, his Elegie
As large as Fame, but whether badd or good
I say not; by him selfe ‘twas writt in blood:
ffor wth his bodie is intomb’d in ayre
Arch’t ore with Heaven, sett with A thousand faire
And glorious Diamond starres. A Sepulchre
that Tyme cann never Ruinate, and where
Th’impartiall worme (wch is not brib’d to spare
Princes corrupt in Marble) cannot share
his Flesh, wch oft the Charitable skyes
Embalme with teares: doeing those obsequies
Belonge to men shall rest, till pittying fowle
Contend to beare his Bodie to his Soule.”
That 'tis not generous, nor scarcely safe
To make a Libell, for an Epitaph.”
 (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1991).
 “Parodic epitaph” is my own term for this subgenre; I have found the following contemporary terms used: Richard Brathwaite, in his great collection Remains after Death (1619) calls them “prophane epitaphs” (sig. E4r.), and John Taylor the water-poet playfully refers to them as “epi-knaves” (I Marry Sir, heere is newes indeed, [1623?], (1642), p. 5.
 Most literary epitaphs (as distinct from inscribed ones) might be construed as parodies; however, the majority of these lack only inscription: they fully adopt the tone, style and matter of those on tombs.
 Bellany, “A Poem on the Archbishop’s Hearse: Puritanism, Libel and Sedition after the Hampton Court Conference,” Journal of British Studies, 34 (1995), pp. 137-64; Croft, ‘The reputation of Robert Cecil: libels, political opinion and popular awareness in the early seventeenth century’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser., 1 (1991), pp. 43–69.
 Margaret A. Rose, Parody: Ancient, Modern and Post-Modern, (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993), p. 45.
 Rose, p. 52.
 I omit from this abbreviated study another variety of mock epitaph: that which jestingly plays on the name or occupation of a not necessarily significant figure. That on the bellows-maker was particularly famous.
 Cecil was buried relatively quietly in St. Etheldreda’s Church, Hatfield; the fine tomb by Maximilien Colt still survives, but I have not yet been able to learn what epitaph (if any) is upon it. See Erna Auerbach and C. Kingsley Adams, Paintings and Sculpture at Hatfield House, (London: Constable, 1971), pp. 111-12.
 John Donne wrote “Nothing in my Lord Salisbury’s death exercised my poor consideration so much as the multitude of libels.” (Life and Letters, ed. Edmund Gosse, 2 vols., (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1959), vol. 1, p. 312.) Similarly, the Earl of Dorset wrote, “More ill-spoken of and in more several kinds, than I think ever anyone was”. (Stowe MS, 172/319, 22 June 1612, qtd. in Algernon Cecil, A Life of Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury, (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1915), p. 343.
 Life and Letters, vol. 1, p. 313.
 “Early Stuart Libels” reproduces BL MS Egerton 2230, fol. 34r, and offers a list of many of the places where this poem is found.
 Camb. MS Add. 57, fol. 95r.
 Traditional Memorials of King James, in The Works of Francis Osborne, 8th ed. (1682), 537.
 Bodl. MS Malone 23, p. 143.
 Osborne, 536-7; Osborne wryly notes that he was “called to answer at a higher Tribunal”. Variant copies are found in Bodl. Don.d.58, fol. 18r; Hunt. 116, p. 25; BL.Add.10309, fol. 153r; Rosenbach 187, p. 114; Bodl.Ashmole 781, fol. 136r; Folger V.a.345, p. 33; Folger V.a.262, p. 154.
 Bodl. Malone 23, pp. 5-6. It also appears in Folger V.a.345, p. 260; Rosenbach 187, p. 99; Huntington 116, p. 174 (in both Rosenbach and Huntington the figure is identified as “Lady Wake”); Camb. Add. 9221, fol. 109v; Camb. Add. MS 4138, fol. 47v. Lake did not die until 1630; on the public mockery of her ca. 1619, see Bellany in Oxford DNB.
 Camb. Add. MS 9221, fol. 109v.
 Chrestoleros, (1598), 4:31.
 pp. 17-49.
 John Stow, A Survey of London: Reprinted from the Text of 1603, ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, 2 vols., (Oxford: Clarendon, 1908), p. 338. the herald Augustine Vincent records both a two and eight-line version, and then a Latin translation. (College of Arms, MS 218, p. 249.) In this manuscript someone has very carefully completely x-ed out the lemma. A similar suppression is found in a copy in Camb. MS. Add. 9221, fol. 99r, where the second line reads: “for great xxair [sic] hath all the roome”.
 See Bellany.
 See, for example, Bodl. MS Rawl.Poet. 26, fol. 76v.
 Folger V.a.262. It also appears in Huntington 198, vol. 1, p. 22; BL.Add. 25303, fol. 136r; Rosenbach 188, p. 192; Folger V.a.345, p. 102; BL Add. 15227, fol. 10v; Bodl. Rawl. 26, fol. 76v.
 Malone MS 23, fol. 210v. Manifold manuscript copies of the poem survive; see the version and accompanying discussion in “Early Stuart Libels”. The final couplet is problematic; I have chosen the Malone version as it shows the work of the copyist in attempting to make sense of the lines. In that manuscript, they are originally written, “Belonge to men shall last, and pittying fowle/Contend to beare his Bodie to his Soule”, which is commonly found in other manuscripts, but has then been amended as it reads above. For discussion of the potential authorship of the poem, see Holstun, Ehud's dagger: class struggle in the English Revolution, (London; New York: Verso, 2000), p. 184.
 A thorough and perceptive reading of the poem is offered in Holstun, pp. 184-6, but treated more as an elegy than a parodic epitaph on a non-existent tomb.
 Oxford DNB.
 Famous examples would include that on Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s, “Lector, Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice”. The conceit goes back at Cato, who would have no shrine or monument “supposing his vertues to be sufficient annals and records to eternise his name” (Brathwaite, Remains after Death, (1619), sig. D1r).
 A remembrance of the honors due to the life and death of Robert Earle of Salisbury, (1612), sig. A2r.
 Dr. Farmer Chetham Manuscript, ed. Alexander B. Grosart, (Manchester, 1873), p. 188.
 This is an argument widespread in the satiric tradition: that a satiric attack on an individual was not likely to change that figure’s behaviour, but might correct others out of fear of a similar public ridiculing.
 Works, (1673), p. 514.
 sig. E4r-v.
 sig. E5v.
 Robert Gomersall, “To his [Mr. John Deane of New College] Detractors.” Poems, (1633), p. 9.
James Doelman is an Associate Professor of English at Brescia University College, University of Western Ontario. He is engaged in a study of epigrams and epitaphs in the period 1590-1640, from which recent articles have appeared in The Huntington Library Quarterly, and Christianity and Literature.
APPOSITIONS: Studies in Renaissance / Early Modern Literature & Culture, http://appositions.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1946-1992, Volume One (2008): Genres & Cultures