A Panegyrick on Philip King of Spain upon his Renouncing his Crown and Kingdoms, to Live in a Hermitage (1724)
This broadsheet poem (c. 1724) remarks on the abdication of Philip V of Spain. In January of 1724, Philip passed the crown to his son, Luis, and announced an intention to live in pious seclusion, but was obliged to reclaim his kingship on Luis's death later in the same year. While it was rumoured that Philip abdicated the Spanish throne in order to ascend the French throne on the anticipated death of the young Louis XV of France (the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht would have prevented him from holding both the Spanish and the French thrones), a recent biographer finds Philip's religious justification credible. Philip's religious fervour was fed by profound self-doubt and melancholy, and he made several attempts to abdicate throughout his life (Kamen 2001, 140-43).
Kamen notes that Philip's abdication prompted "scores of satirical pamphlets" (141), but Pennecuik's is the only verse commentary that I have found in English. This example of Pennecuik's interest in international dynastic affairs may be explained through a connection with Jacobite ambitions - at the time, with the Jacobite court rejected by France, the alliances and maneuverings of Philip V seemed to provide the best prospect for continental support for the Jacobite claim to the throne. Philip had already shown his support for the Jacobite cause in the short-lived rising of 1719. Philip's claim to have resigned his throne out of devotion to his religion would have resonated with a Jacobite audience. Even while James VII and II and his heirs hoped to reclaim their thrones, the claim was pressed, and "widely regarded . . . as being true," that James had gone into exile for the sake of his religion (Gregg 1997, 382); this sacrifice, and the pious practice of his later years, even made him a candidate for sainthood (MacKenzie 2003, 112-15). On his death, James is reported to have to have thanked God for "permitting [him] to be deprived of an Earthly . . . to gain an Eternal Crown"; he also warned his son not to sacrifice his piety in pursuit of the throne (1701). The tradition of regarding the Stuarts as willing sufferers for their faith continued with James VIII and III and various other members of the Stuart family (MacKenzie 2003, 262-63).
While the National Library of Scotland categorises this poem as satire, it may be more ambiguous than that. The better portion of the poem, possibly subverted by the four concluding lines, is spent praising Philip V in terms familiar to Jacobites. The final lines are attributed to third-party opinion, and may provide just enough ambiguity to appeal both to those who scorned Philip's claims and those who believed them. While Kamen gives the impression that Philip's decision was met with near universal scepticism and derision, it is worth noting that the Jacobite Nathaniel Mist's Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post mounted a defence of Philip, with comparisons, like Pennecuik's, to previous renouncers of thrones (1724).
A Panegyrick on Philip King of Spain, upon his renouncing his
Crown and Kingdoms, to live in a Hermitage
HAIL Miracle of Monarchs who resigns,
Thy Crown, thy Kingdoms, and thy Golden Mines,
Mocking the royal Pageantry of State,
Ambitious rather to be good, than great;
Whilst others proudly struggle for a Crown, 5
You throw your Grandure and Regalia down;
Warm’d with an Altar Coal, thy Heart doth pant,
To find a Jesus, and commence a Saint.
Had you like Charles, the Martyre, Britain’s King,
Who now in Heaven doth lo Triumphs sing, 10
Felt the rebellious Subjects pois’nous Breath,
And by a cursed Cromwell  push’d to Death;
Or had the Turk and Monster Merriweys,
The Rogue who sovereign Majesty betrays,
Audaciously presum’d thy Throne to climb, 15
And from thy Temples pull’d the Diadem;
No Wonder you had loath’d the regal Toil,
Dispis’d the Purple and the anointing Oil,
Fled to a lonly Hermitage to dwell,
And sigh thy rigid Fate in a religious Cell. 20
But in the pride of Life and Success too,
When mighty Monarchs were afraid of you,
Nor Foreign or domestick Wars did feel,
And Fortune seem’d naill’d to your Chariot Wheel.
To give the Slip to fortune and betray, 25
A Jilt perhaps had other Game to Play,
For fickle Fortune, often sports with Kings,
Stops their Carreer, and clips their Eagle Wings,
Knowing her Cheats, you play’d upon the Square,
And subtile as she is, ye did betray her, 30
O glorious Philip, thy great Name shall fly,
As far as there is Seas or Earth or Sky.
Dayly with pleasure, doth the Sun arise,
Dispells the Night, and brightens up the Skies,
To show the drouzie World, his honest Face, 35
And View thy vast Dominions in his Race,
For thee he doth spontaniously Toil,
To ripen into Gold thy sacred Soil,
Early and late thy ample Fortune spyes,
And when he doth roll down the Northren Skies, 40
Leaves us poor Mortalls in our Dark abodes
To tell thy Riches to our Antipods.
But you renounce these Fields of golden Ore,
In solitude the Donator to adore,
So Charles the fifth, tyr’d with the Worlds affairs 45
Retir’d and spent his Hoary Age in Prayers,
Thou art the Subject of our sacred Song,
Phillip d’Espagne, le Grand et le bon,
Tho’ some conclude you a politick Prince,
(Honis foit qui mal y pense) 50
Gone to a Desart from a deep Intrigue,
To form a Plot and Crush the Gallick League. FINIS
1 From Isaiah 6:6. When Isaiah sees God, he is wracked with guilt for his sins - especially sinful speech. An angel touches an altar coal to Isaiah's lips, and his guilt is removed.
2 Charles I, executed in 1649. This regicide was regarded as martyrdom, and Jacobites often compared the fate of Charles to that of his deposed son, James VII and II.
3 Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector during much of the Interregnum.
4 Mir Wais Hotak (1673-1715) - born in Kandahar to a prominent family, Hotak united the Sunni Afghans against Shia Persian rule, driving out the Safavids and founding the Hotaki Empire, which lasted until 1738 (Covarrubius 2017, 205). Contemporary English-language sources on this figure are somewhat vague, although he is generally regarded as a villain.
5 The other side of the world.
6 The Holy Roman Emperor who abdicated in 1554 and retired to a monastery. Charles V was often compared to James VII and II (MacKenzie 2003, 262). Jacobite culture "situat[ed] the Stuarts in a" long line of "historical saints" and saint-like figures (103).
7 The Great and the good.
8 Shame on him who thinks badly of it - the motto of the Order of the Garter. The sardonic edge to this aside lends strength to the categorisation of this poem as satire.
9 France and its allies, at this time including Britain.
Gregg, Edward. "Monarchs without a Crown." In Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Memory of Ragnhild Hatton. Edited by Robert Oresko, G. C. Gibbs, and H. M. Scott. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Kamen, Henry. 2001. Philip V of Spain: The King Who Reigned Twice. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Covarrubius, Jack. 2017. "Hotak, Mir Wais (1673-1715)." In Afghanistan at War: from the 18th-Century Durrani Dynasty to the 21st Century. Edited by Tom Lansford, 205. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
"The Last Dying-Words of Late King James II to His Son and Daughter, and the French King." 1701. London: D. E., http://find.galegroup.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/ecco/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ECCO&userGroupName=sfu_z39&tabID=T001&docId=CW3308647809&type=multipage&contentSet=ECCOArticles&version=1.0&docLevel=FASCIMILE.
Mackenzie, Niall. “Gender, Jacobitism, and Dynastic Sanctity.” PhD diss., Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, 2003.
Pennecuik, Alexander. 1724. "A Panegyrick on Philip King of Spain, upon His Renouncing His Crown and Kingdoms, to Live in a Hermitage." The Word on the Street. National Library of Scotland. https://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/15668/transcript/1.
Weekly Journal and Saturday's Post. 1724. February 15, 1724, Issue 277. 1-2. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. https://tinyurl.com/ybt9pgx9.