George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

By James Ellison | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

PARABLES OF SCEPTICISM AND TOLERANCE FROM GEORGE SANDYS'S GREAT TEW YEARS

THE first indication we have that Sandys was acquainted with Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland is to be found at the start of the 1636 edition of the Psalms. This edition was prefaced with a substantial commendatory poem by Falkland of 148 lines, and a slighter piece by Sir Dudley Digges. Falkland was to compose no less than three more extended encomia of Sandys, but this was his first, and indeed it was one of his few public pronouncements from Great Tew. 1 Very public it was too, in a volume dedicated to, and supported by, the King, who granted Sandys a royal patent allowing exclusive publication of the work. But compared with the Cavalier poetry of the period, Falkland's is a sombre, critical piece, meditating on the fall of kingdoms and civilizations, religious division and persecution, puritanism ― and the immorality of Cavalier poetry. The poem begins by summarizing Sandys's literary achievements. Reflecting on A Relation, Falkland suggests that Sandys's histories of the rise and fall of the various Mediterranean empires have a salutary lesson for the apparently stable Caroline monarchy:

Teaching the frailty of all Humane things; How soone great Kingdoms fall, much sooner Kings:

An ensuing meditation on Sandys's account of the Greek Church leads him to a longer consideration of the dangers and absurdities religious intolerance brings with it. Falkland notes that the Greek Church, like the Roman Church, has been in continuous existence since the time of Christ, and can:

a Never-broke Succession show From the Apostles down; (Here bragg'd of so:) So best confute Her most Immodest claime, Who scarcea Part, yet to be All doth aime ...

Falkland attacks the universalist claims of the papacy. The Greeks can show an unbroken apostolic succession from St Peter to rival that of the Roman

____________________
1
Other than the four poems to Sandys, only three other poems by Falkland were published during his lifetime, all of them poems to particular persons: an elegy on Donne, a contribution to Jonsonus Virbius (1638) commemorating the death of Jonson, and 'An Epitaph upon the Excellent Countesse of Huntingdon' (1635); see The Poems of Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, ed. Alexander B. Grosart (Edinburgh, 1871).

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