Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > The Beginnings of English Journalism > Berkenhead, Dillingham, Audley, Nedham, Smith, Rushworth and Border
  Samuel Pecke, patriarch of the Press Walker, the ironmonger, and his literary frauds  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XV. The Beginnings of English Journalism.

§ 3. Berkenhead, Dillingham, Audley, Nedham, Smith, Rushworth and Border.

Six John Berkenhead began his Mercurius Aulicus at Oxford in January, 1643, and the appearance of this, the only royalist periodical for some years, with its contemptuous ridicule of the dishonest and illiterate parliamentary press, was an important factor in deciding the two Houses to set on foot their wholly beneficial licensing regulations in June. Sir John Denham’s Western Wonder has recorded the untruthful manner in which Hopton’s victorious hunting of Chudleigh from Launceston was described in the Relations, and how an ambuscade on Sourton down, on 25 April, 1643, was magnified into a special intervention of the Almighty by fire from heaven:
Do you not know not a fortnight ago
How they bragg’d of a Western Wonder
When a hundred and ten slew five thousand men
With the help of lightning and thunder?
There Hopton was slain again and again
Or else my author did lye
With a new Thanksgiving for the dead who are living
To God and His servant Chidleigh.
  A few months later, Mercurius Aulicus was secretly reprinted in London. The Oxford and the London edition do not invariably contain the same matter; but, apart from this, and from a difference in size of the two editions (the Oxford one being the smaller), there is little to mark one from the other.   16
  As a general rule, it may be stated that this periodical, throughout the year 1643, and, indeed, until the royal fortunes turned, is trustworthy, and markedly superior in every way to all its opponents. Mockery was one of Berkenhead’s most effective weapons against his enemies; but (as will be shown) he was not long to remain unopposed in the exercise of this weapon.   17
  Mercurius Aulicus ended in September, 1645; it was succeeded in the same year by Mercurius Academicus, which lasted until 1646; and, until the autumn of 1647, these were the only royalist periodicals which appeared. It will thus be seen that, save chiefly in the years 1647 to 1650, there was practically no royalist press at all. Sir John Berkenhead was, also, the writer of the royalist Mercurius Bellicus, which appeared for a short time in 1647 and, again, in 1648. He became licenser of all books under the royal prerogative at the restoration, before the passing of the licensing act of 1662, but, except as licenser and friend of Henry Muddiman, the privileged journalist of the restoration, he had nothing further to do with journalism.   18
  In spite of the vast number of titles of journals which appeared between 1643 and the second and final suppression of the press by Cromwell in 1655, the journalists of the rebellion were but a small band.   19
  John Dillingham, a tailor living in Whitefriars, was the writer of The Parliament Scout, and, for a time, leader of the parliamentary press. He was a presbyterian, opposed to independency and, unfortunately for him, unorthodox in his views. This, together with an attack on the parliament’s general in a leading article, was the cause of his newsbook being suppressed in January, 1645. He was permitted to continue writing The Moderate Intelligencer in the same year (chiefly concerned with foreign news) until the first suppression of the newsbooks in October, 1649; but he then drops out of view and no more is known of him.   20
  Dillingham was so disgusted with his own side that he dared to put in his newsbook, in 1648, the sentence Dieu nous donne les Parlyaments briefe, Rois de vie longue. He was a bitter enemy of Laud. A presbyterian critic wrote of him that he had
a snip at all men that stand firm to the covenant. The man is so pragmaticall, that he thinks he can teach the Parliament how to order state affairs, the Ministry how to frame their prayers and begin their sermons…. He would be thought not only a deep politician, and divine, but a mathematician too [i.e. an astrologer]. … God send us a speedy conclusion of Peace, that we may have no further use of an army. And that the Moderate Intelligencer may return to his trade, which I fear he hath almost forgotten.  5 
  As a matter of fact, Dillingham got into trouble because of his leading articles, of which species of journalism he was one of the first originators. In being persecuted, he was not singular; the author of Mercurius Civicus (May, 1643–December, 1646) and The Kingdomes Weekly Intelligencer (January, 1643–October, 1649) shared the like fate. Mercurius Civicus was suppressed for its too outspoken loyalty to its king. The writer of these periodicals is known only by his initials R. C. He was a strong presbyterian, a soldier and the journalist of Sir William Waller. In Denham’s Second Western Wonder (concerning the battle of Roundway down), Mercurius Civicus is the “book” referred to, lady Waller the preaching lady and the “Conqueror” Sir William Waller himself.
When out came the book which the newsmonger took
From the preaching ladies letter
Where in the first place, stood the Conqueror’s face
Which made it show much the better
But now without lying, you may paint him flying
At Bristol they say you may find him
Great William the Con, so fast he did run
That he left half his name behind him.
  Mercurius Civicus was the first illustrated journal, and usually appeared with some political or military leader’s portrait on its title–page. The woodcuts were nearly as bad as the rimes which sometimes accompanied them. R. C. also wrote The Weekly Intelligencer of the Commonwealth from 23 July, 1650 to 25 September, 1655, reviving it in 1659 (May to December). Sheppard says that R. C. was a scholar, and poor, owing to his loyalty and to his presbyterian views. William Ingler, who is but a name, wrote Certaine Informations in 1643 and 1644. Henry Walley, the licenser, another strong presbyterian, was the writer of The True Informer (1643–5) and Heads of Chiefe Passages in Parliament (continued as The Kingdomes Weekly Account of Heads) and other items, in 1648.   23
  George Smith began his Scotish Dove in 1643. This was a periodical remarkable for its fanatical opposition to any observance of the Christian festivals, particularly Christmas day. Smith preached so many sermons on the subject in his journal that his periodical is almost valueless for intelligence; and, at the last, in 1646, it was suppressed by parliament and ordered to be burnt by the hangman for insulting the French. Smith modified his presbyterianism in later years and became a somewhat hypocritical advocate of Cromwell and his policy; his change of sides, however, does not seem to have benefited him.   24
  John Rushworth superseded Walley as licenser on 11 April, 1644, and wrote The London Post, which appeared from 6 August, 1644 to 4 March, 1645, and, again, from 31 December, 1646 to February, 1647. The sources of his Collections are thus indicated.   25
  At the end of August, 1643, captain Thomas Audley appeared with his Mercurius Britanicus as an openly scurrilous opponent of Mercurius Aulicus. The two soon fell into a tiresome and continuous wrangle which few, nowadays, will care to follow. Audley was but a carpet knight, did not go to the wars and, when Rushworth obtained leave to appoint a deputy licenser in September, 1644, acted as licenser in his stead. He was succeeded in his “author’s” chair of Mercurius Britanicus by Marchamont Nedham, who carried his scurrility to such an extent that, in the number for 4 August, 1645, he published a Hue and Cry after the king, couched in offensive terms. For this, Audley, his licenser, was imprisoned and forbidden to license again, and Rushworth’s clerk Mabbott was installed in his place. Nedham’s scurrility, nevertheless, continued to increase, and, on 18 May, 1646, he reached the climax, even attempting to make mischief between the two Houses. He was sent to prison and was only released on condition of not writing any more pamphlets. Britanicus thus came to an end. Audley wrote Mercurius Diutinus (not Britanicus) at the end of the year.   26
  Daniel Border, another scrivener, and an anabaptist, was the writer of A Weekly Accompt (1643); The Weekly Account (1643–7); The Perfect Weekly Account (1647—a counterfeit of the true journal of the same name); The Kingdoms Weekly Post (1648); The Kingdoms Faithfull Scout (1649); England’s Moderate Messenger (1649); The Impartial Scout (1650); and, probably, other periodicals later. Walker was his enemy, and his intelligence was defective; Sheppard calls his principal newsbook the Scout an Augean stable. Simeon Ashe and William Goode, the earl of Manchester’s chaplains, were the writers of Intelligence from his army in 1644. Durant Hotham, son of Sir John Hotham and translator of the writings of Jacob Boehme, wrote The Spie in 1644 (30 January–25 June).   27
  Richard Little was probably the author of Mercurius Academicus, Bruno Ryves wrote Mercurius Rusticus (a solitary counterfeit, dated 26 October, 1643, was issued by the poet Wither) and Daniel Featly probably wrote Britanicus Vapulans and Mercurius Urbanus. All these last were ephemeral.   28

Note 5The copy of a Letter written from Northampton, 6 February, 1646. [ back ]

  Samuel Pecke, patriarch of the Press Walker, the ironmonger, and his literary frauds  

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