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CARY, PATRICK (71623-1657) Patrick Cary was born into a family destined for literary and political fame. His father, Sir Henry Cary, Lord Falkland, was made first viscount by Charles I and appointed deputy minister to Ireland. Patrick, one of 11 children, was born in Dublin and raised by his mother, Elizabeth, a playwright who at 16 wrote the first closet play, one meant to be read rather than acted, published by an Englishwoman. The play was titled Mariam, Fair Queene of Jewry with a focus on religious freedom and freedom for women; she published it in 1613 with the encouragement of John Davies. The topic proved personal, as Lady Falkland later secretly converted to Catholicism, infuriating her husband, who convinced the king to place her under house arrest and remove her children, including Patrick, from her care. Lord Falkland was later recalled from Ireland by King Charles after attempting to banish all priests from the country. Soon after he suffered a leg injury in a horseback riding accident and died in 1633 of gangrene, his wife at his side after their reconciliation through the efforts of Queen Henrietta Maria, also a Catholic. A book titled The History of Edward II was discovered among Falkland's possessions at his death and credited to him, although later critics and historians gathered ample evidence to support Elizabeth Cary as its true author.
After his father's death Patrick moved in with his older brother by 13 years, Lucius, an Anglican of strict anti-Catholic views who did not speak to his mother for some time after she was cast off by his father. In 1636 Lady Falkland planned the kidnapping of Patrick and a younger brother from Lucius's estate near Great Tew, spiriting them to the Continent to St. Edmund's Priory in Paris. Patrick moved on to Rome and remained there until 1650; in Rome he met John Milton, the devotional poet Richard Crashaw, and John Evelyn, a diarist who was one of the first elected to the Royal Academy. During his first two years in Italy Cary followed his mother's example, writing secular poetry, the Trivial Ballads, as well as devotional meditations.
During Patrick's absence Lucius inherited his father's title and became the second viscount, Lord Falkland. He entered Parliament in 1639 and became secretary of state in 1642. His home near Oxford entertained literati including Ben Jonson; Falkland became a Son of Ben and would be honored in a poem by Jonson after his death at the Battle of Newbury in 1643, "To the Immortal Memory and Friendship of That Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison" (1629). Patrick eventually followed his brother into public service, after first entertaining the idea of priesthood. After a brief stint in a monastery, he returned to England, married, and worked in government service in Ireland, where he died of unknown causes in 1657.
Cary's poetry would not be published until 1771, when Trivial Ballads gained notice for its satire, lyrics, and pastoral entries, described by critics as graceful and witty. While his devotional works, never published as a collection, reflected the influence of Jonson and John Donne, they lacked the sustained quality characteristic of his models. His notable illustrations illumined his manuscripts. The poetry was published again in 1819 as Trivial Poems and Triolets by Sir Walter Scott, who discovered and admired Cary's work. The most recent version, published in 1978, is out of print but possible to locate.
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