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To Lord Rochester and Sir Charles Sedley, mid-day by hand, 16th Friday

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Not wishing to involve his manservant Fergal in attempting to win over the Merry Gang as supporter sof his poetic career, James instead paid a servant to deliver a note and two leather-bound volumes entitled The Rising of the Britons apiece to the incorrigible earl and the more-amiable baronet. The flattery within was deliberate, but also not dishonest. The notes were identical, save the first line.


My lord/Sir Charles,

I considered extensively my options in opening this note with an attempt at wit, but I also contend that moments of radical Honesty amidst glibness can have an incisive power of their own. On that note, there is no insincerity in extending my gratitude to you both for reviewing my most demanding piece to date. Very few others, at court or elsewhere, have seen this piece in its entirety.

If it does not disappoint (and I maintain that it will not), I would make even greater my debt if you would consent to offer advice both on the piece itself and how to make it better known after publication. While it was said at the reception that to publish too much is to become common, having found a publisher, I would like to have a work distributed at least the once.

Aspiring to learn more, I am

James O'Neill



The attached book, an epic blending history and aspects of Celtic myth, can be summarized as follows.

The Rising of the Britons is prefaced by two sonnets, one to a "Mistress C" and the other on the birth of a royal child, and is divided into five Cantos. Canto I begins with a proem, in which the author invokes Clio, the muse of history, as a guide and guardian for Hibernia and Britannia, his true muses. The rest of the Canto details Boudica's first victory, before backtracking to the origins of the rebellion and the epic catalogue, a traditional listing of sorts, in this case Boudica's fictional lineage (claiming that she was the blood of both Troy and the Fair Folk). Canto II describes the combatants - Boudica is supported by two semi-fictional kings, bards and druids, and more Britannic victories that result in bloodshed and eventually, the sacrifice of captives to the goddess Andraste.

Canto III, the end of the first volume, is short overall, but portrays the Roman perspective - the Celts are to them bloodthirsty savages who have gruesome beliefs, and the Roman general Suetonius is shown to be honorable, if austere. In this way, while still favoring the libertine lifestyle and the freedom of England’s court, the poet endeavors to show through metaphor the darker aspects of that lifestyle, perhaps alluding to some inner turmoil. "A quarter million" Celts march on Londinium, and Neirin the Bard seduces Boudica, thus demonstrating how the pinnacle of libertinism is Beauty and its creation. The Canto ends with the sack of the Roman capital, and the poet makes certain to emphasize the devastation the Celts wreak upon the town “though they heroes of this tale remain”.

Cantos IV and V depict the unraveling and defeat of the Britons. Their army becomes unwieldy after their victories, being followed by women, children, and the infirm. Boudica's council quarrels: Neirin and the druid-woman Bodhmall  call for an honorable fight and negotiation, while others propose making a Kingdom, and others still demand war and violence - one such being the mad druid Myrddin. Bodhmall has a vision from the Otherworld saying that bloodshed would disturb the Fair Folk and spirits, and eventually has to flee, being recruited by the Romans In Canto V, she bribes Neirin to kill Myrddin, so that the Queen would seek peace and thus his lover's heart would remain untainted by her increasing thirst for vengeance. Instead, he accidentally assassinates Boudica's peacemaking lieutenant, and is ran out. Nerien steals a horse and flees with Bodhmall - the two thus representing the religious and aesthetic worlds in their interactions with Power, wealth, and propriety, turning from their libertine roots.

In the end, Boudica gives a brilliant speech, but the ill-equipped Britons are trapped by their own women and children, and are slaughtered in droves. Boudica commits suicide, and Neirin plucks a lute sadly from the camp of his former enemy.

(OOC: Will PM with a few excerpts of the poem that I've written, but won't post them until James decides if he wants to go public with it ;) )


Edited by James O`Neill
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