Do Not Sequester Our Common Sense

Tea tonight is called Lemon Pound Cake. Unlike some teas we’ve had, this one tastes the way the name suggests it will. It’s an especially lemony oolong that  is long in the mouth, the lemon we presume. We’ve only made up a cup -it’s late and we need sleep -but we’ll be going back to it. We have yet to meet an oolong we cannot drink, and citrus has long proven itself a good pairing with the tea. Something about it means that unlike jasmine, which grows bitter, or black tea, which stews, an oolong properly flavoured won’t oversteep. You have to be careful about it though. Our first year of university tastes of a now defunct tea called Vanilla Oolong. That could oversteep, and often if we were absent-minded and chatting with people, it did.

It’s one of our defying memories of first year though, something we mention since earlier in the evening we got talking books with people, and one of the questions to crop up was about what book defined our university experience. The thing is though, we’re Romanticists at heart. We dabbled in Wordsworth, Coleridge, Edgeworth and Wollstonecraft. None of those are really writers that define our degree. We looked at Austen too, and because of degree stipulations we even traded a bit in Old English and Restoration Literature. Again, much poetry. Though translating passages about Aelthelthryth’s neck tumour was, we grant, a pretty definitive moment.

Sometimes we railed against those degree stipulations. Never the Old English, we could read it happily forever, but Restoration literature is…weird. This from the woman who has read articles on whether there are zombies in Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner or not. Mary Pix’s The Innocent Mistress stands out as grievously bad. So bad in fact, that it’s no longer on the course. The Old Arcadia is also on our list of Seriously Bizarre. But sometimes after being strongarmed into a course, we’d get handed a gift of a text. Old English was like that, but over in the land of Restoration Literature, so was the poetry of Katherine Phillips.

She doesn’t get talked about much -a monarchist under Cromwell, why would she? But the great thing isn’t so much that she wrote independently, it’s that she defended her politics. When people went after her husband for her loyalty to the crown, she published a poem insisting she was responsible for her own opinions. And that was in-between the great hymns to love and friendship among women. This is none of those. It is, however,  our personal favourite. We want Do Not Sequester Our Common Sense to be the next sampler we stitch. Perhaps in whipped chain and herringbone stitches? What do you think?

On the Double Murther of a King

Katherine Phillips

I think not on the state, nor am concerned
Which way soever that great helm is turned,
But as that son whose father’s danger nigh
Did force his native dumbness, and untie
His fettered organs: so here is a cause

That will excuse the breach of nature’s laws.
Silence were now a sin: nay passion now
Wise men themselves for merit would allow.
What noble eye could see, (and careless pass)
The dying lion kicked by every ass?

Hath Charles so broke God’s laws, he must not have
A quiet crown, nor yet a quiet grave?
Tombs have been sanctuaries; thieves lie here
Secure from all their penalty and fear.
Great Charles his double misery was this,

Unfaithful friends, ignoble enemies;
Had any heathen been this prince’s foe,
He would have wept to see him injured so.
His title was his crime, they’d reason good
To quarrel at the right they had withstood.

He broke God’s laws, and therefor he must die,
And what shall then become of thee and I?
Slander must follow treason; but yet stay,
Take not our reason with our king away.
Though you have seized upon all our defense,

Yet do not sequester our common sense.
But I admire not at this new supply:
No bounds will hold those who at scepters fly.
Christ will be King, but I ne’er understood,
His subjects built his kingdom up with blood

(Except their own) or that he would dispense
With his commands, though for his own defense.
Oh! to what height of horror are they come
Who dare pull down a crown, tear up a tomb!

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