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This report is taken from PN Review 252, Volume 46 Number 4, March - April 2020.

Cavalier Ballads: the tough life of Alexander Brome William Poulos
It must be a tough life, a cavalier’s. Imagine losing your land and fighting for your king only to have your name synonymous with an intemperate lifestyle and a rather small, affectionate class of dog – not, one must admit, a fitting reward for your efforts. Besides the ridicule of posterity, you would have had to endure the ingratitude of your peers: upon the Restoration, twelve seats in Charles II’s new Privy Council were given to Cromwellians. Parliament did little to redress Cavaliers’ lost land, which was confiscated or sold by the Interregnum authorities who convicted them of treason. The Cavaliers were salty about it.

While the Puritans spread their message via sermons, the Cavaliers spread their resentment through ballads, songs, and litanies. The ballad ‘A Cavalier’s Complaint’, printed in 1661, a year after the Restoration, records the feelings of a man who returns to court hoping to see his fellow Cavaliers but is disappointed:
S’life, of so many Noble Sparkes,
Who, on their Bodies, bear the Markes
Of their Integritie,
And suffer’d Ruine of Estate;
It was my damn’d unhappy Fate,
That I not One could see…
But, truly, There are swarmes of Those,
Who lately were our chiefest Foes,
Of Pantaloons and Muffes;
Whilst the Old rusty Cavaleer
Retires, or dares not once appear
For want of Coyne, and Cuffes.

The last three lines provide an image of a Cavalier different from the one most people have: he bears scars gained in ...


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