Drunken Barnaby (Snippets 32)

Some time during the early 17th Century, poet Richard Braithwait wrote Drunken Barnaby’s Four Journeys to the North of England, in Latin poetry.  The original edition is undated but the frontispiece by William Marshall  dates the book to probably somewhere between 1635 and 1650.  Braithwait himself lived from 1588 (unconfirmed) to 1673.  Looking at the publication dates of some of his other works, towards the earlier end of the possible scale is more likely.

Published anonymously, the identity of the writer of Drunken Barnaby was unknown for many years.  The 1805 edition, which includes a very good English translation, has an introduction speculating about his identity, without being able to identify the author.  The Bishoprick Garland by Cuthbert Sharp, finally shed light on his identity in 1834.

This poetic journal of travels is likely to be largely fictionalised.  However, it must be rooted in some degree of truth, or the author would not have had knowledge of the various places he describes, so he must have undertaken the journeys.  The events that occur on the way, and his drinking habit, are open to interpretation as to how true they might be.

Thence to Overbowles, where Danus
Dwelt with’s Danes in time of Janus;
Way to th’town is well dispos’d,
All about with trenches clos’d;
Pallisadoes hid with bushes,
Rampires overgrown with rushes.

On a feast day I came thither,
When good people flock’d together,
Where (induc’d by Host’s example)
I repair’d unto the temple,
Where I heard the Preacher gravely,
With his red nose tipt most bravely.

Dormice like the people seem’d,
Though he cry’d, they sleeping dream’d;
For his life, though there was harm in’t,
Heart was less rent than his garment;
With his feet he did so thunder,
That the pulpit fell asunder.

Which occasion having gotten
All awake, the pulpit broken,
While the Preacher lay sore wounded,
With more boards than beards surrounded;
All to dinner, who might faster,
So among them I left Pastor.

Thence to Clowne I came the quicker,
Where I’d given my skin for liquor;
None was there to entertain us,
But a noggin of Vulcanus;
Who afforded welcome plenty,
Till my seamrent purse was empty.

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle (source: english-heritage.org.uk)

After a lot of frustrating research and looking at surrounding locations on maps, I finally worked out that Overbowles is Bolsover, which seems pretty obvious in hindsight!  For Latin enthusiasts, here is the original text:

Veni Overbowles, ubi Dani
Habitarunt tempore ani;
Pater oppidanus callis
Circumcirca clausus vallis,
Castris, claustris, et speluncis
Tectus coecis, tectus juncis.

Sacra die eo veni,
Aedes sanctae erant plenae,
Quorum percitus exemplo,
Quia Hospes erat templo,
Intrans vidi Sacerdotem,
Igne fatuo poculis notum.

Glires erant incolae villae,
Iste clamat, dormiunt illi;
Ipse tamen vixit ita,
Si non corde veste trita;
Fortem prae se ferens gestum,
Fregit pedibus suggestum.

Qua occasione nacta,
Tota grex exporgefacta,
Sacerdote derelicto,
Tabulis fractis graviter icto,
Pransum redeunt; unus horum,
Plebem sequor non Pastorem.

Veni Clowne, ubi vellem
Pro liquore dare pellem;
Ibi cerebro dare pellem;
Vidi conjugem Vulcani,
Quae me hospitem tractat bene
Donec restat nil crumenae.

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in 17th Century, Books, History, Poems, Poetry, Snippets, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Drunken Barnaby (Snippets 32)

  1. RMW says:

    When I lived in England our house was on Bolsover Road (in Worthing). I always wondered about the origin of the name… perhaps it was named after “Overbowles.”

    Liked by 1 person

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