Among Chetham’s Library’s Halliwell-Phillipps collection lurks another item of anti-Richard III black propaganda. If you’re a committed Ricardian, you may not consider it such an excellent song;
but William Dicey, who seems to have printed this about 1720, certainly wasn’t here to sing Richard’s praises. What with all the Bosworthing that’s been going on, you’ll remember that Richard wan’t Edward IV’s only possible heir – so what happened in the tower? Dicey knows!
So as we come to bury Richard tomorrow, are we interring the good deeds with his bones (apols to Caesar, Brutus and Shakespeare)? Is the continuing row over his reputation really the evil that he did, living on after him? Is Professor Starkey right in identifying our Yorkist king’s fans as ‘loons’? As many years of debate on both sides comes to a head (crowned or otherwise), regular readers of this sage blog will not be surprised if they don’t come to a conclusion. Dicey’s broadside goes into considerable detail about the complex web of family relationships that fed the Wars of the Roses, but he doesn’t appear to have cared to spend anything on a new woodcut for his illustration:
Some rough dealings by vaguely gaoler-ish types, but the victim seems both too old and too solitary to stand for the young princes.
Thanks to James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps’ passion for the single-sheet item (he gave us over 3,000 of them), you can read the Dicey tale for yourselves, and perhaps even try to sing along with the lyric.
As a Library that likes to maintain scholarly balance, we reserve judgement, but offer our dusty blessings to roses red and white.