This poem refers to a rumour spread around London on 24 March 1606, while parliament was in session, that King James had been stabbed with a poisoned blade at Oakingham while out hunting. The city raised an alarm and James was forced to disseminate a proclamation to calm the citizenry. See Gullans (ed.), Ayton, p. 20. Metre: elegiac couplets.
In Rumorem de caede Regis Iacobi (1606)
In rumorem de caede Regis Iacobi
1Unde pavescentem crebescit fama per urbem
regale insidiis succubuisse caput?
Hancne fecit livor, qui somnia fingit ut optat,
praecipiens animo gaudia falsa suo?
5An potius populi pius et laudabilis error,
qui, si absit quod amat, jam periisse putat?
Si livor, princeps isthinc tibi disce cavere,
si favor, hinc populo disce cavere tuo.
Against the rumor concerning the death of King James
From where has the report risen through an increasingly fearful city that the royal chief has succumbed to a plot? Has this been brought about by envy, who fashions its dreams as it wishes, anticipating false joys in its own mind? Or is it rather the dutiful and praiseworthy mistake of the people, who think that, if whatever they love is absent, then it has died? If it is envy, prince, learn to protect yourself from it; if it is good-will, learn to protect your people from that.