A manuscript of Rochester’s “Upon Nothing” in a newly recovered eighteenth-century miscellany of Restoration verse

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In this article, I present a previously unexplored verse miscellany, which contains 18 poems and begins with a copy of the Earl of Rochester’s “Upon Nothing.” The miscellany, held at Staffordshire Record Office, was compiled around 1703 by Sir John Bridgeman, 3rd baronet, a Shropshire gentleman and grandson of the politician Sir Orlando Bridgeman. While many of the contents relate to the political events surrounding the accession to the throne of Queen Anne, the collection reveals a pervasive interest in the turbulent years of the Restoration period. The cultural memory of the Exclusion Crisis casts its shadow over Bridgeman’s collection, and many of the topical poems touch upon the ramifications of an unstable line of royal succession. Tracing the political and scribal communities to which Bridgeman might have belonged, I explore the ways in which Rochester, and the Restoration, were being refigured in the earliest years of the eighteenth century.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-190
JournalThe Seventeenth Century
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017