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Thomas Carew
by [?]

July 28, 1894. A Note on his Name.

Even as there is an M alike in Macedon and Monmouth, so Thomas Carew and I have a common grievance–that our names are constantly mispronounced. It is their own fault, of course; on the face of it they ought to rhyme with “few” and “vouch.” And if it be urged (impolitely but with a fair amount of plausibility) that what my name may or may not rhyme with is of no concern to anybody, I have only to reply that, until a month or so back, I cheerfully shared this opinion and acquiesced in the general error. Had I dreamed then of becoming a subject for poetry, I had pointed out–as I do now–for the benefit of all intending bards, that I do not legitimately rhyme with “vouch” (so liable is human judgment to err, even in trifles), unless they pronounce it “vooch,” which is awkward. I believe, indeed (speaking as one who has never had occasion to own a Rhyming Dictionary), that the number of English words consonant with my name is exceedingly small; but leave the difficulty to the ingenious Dr. Alexander H. Japp, LL.D., F.R.S.E., who has lately been at the pains to compose and put into private circulation a sprightly lampoon upon me. As it is not my intention to reply with a set of verses upon Dr. Japp, it seems superfluous to inquire if his name should be pronounced as it is spelt.

But Carew’s case is rather important; and it is really odd that his latest and most learned editor, the Rev. J.F. Ebsworth, should fall into the old error. In a “dedicatory prelude” to his edition of “The Poems and Masque of Thomas Carew” (London: Reeves & Turner), Mr. Ebsworth writes as follows:–

“Hearken strains from one who knew
How to praise and how to sue:
Celia’s lover, TOM CAREW.”

Thomas Carew (born April 3d, 1590, at Wickham, in Kent) was the son of Sir Matthew Carew, Master in Chancery, and the grandson of Sir Wymond Carew, of East Antony, or Antony St. Jacob, between the Lynher and Tamar rivers in Cornwall, where the family of Pole-Carew lives to this day. Now, the Cornish Carews have always pronounced their name as “Carey,” though, as soon as you cross the Tamar and find yourself (let us say) as far east as Haccombe in South Devon, the name becomes “Carew”–pronounced as it is written. The two forms are both of great age, as the old rhyme bears witness–

“Carew, Carey and Courtenay,
When the Conqueror came, were here at play”–

and the name was often written “Carey” or “Cary,” as in the case of the famous Lucius Carey, Lord Falkland, and his descendants. In Cornwall, however, where spelling is often an untrustworthy guide to pronunciation (I have known people to write their name “Hix” and pronounce it as “Hic”–when sober, too), it was written “Carew” and pronounced as “Carey”; and there is not the slightest doubt that this was the case with our poet’s name. If anyone deny it, let him consider the verse in which Carew is mentioned by his contemporaries: and attempt, for instance, to scan the lines in Robert Baron’s “Pocula Castalia,” 1650–

“Sweet Suckling then, the glory of the Bower
Wherein I’ve wanton’d many a genial hour,
Fair Plant! whom I have seen Minerva wear
An ornament to her well-plaited hair,
On highest days; remove a little from
Thy excellent Carew! and thou, dearest Tom,
Love’s Oracle! lay thee a little off
Thy flourishing Suckling, that between you both
I may find room….”

Or this by Suckling–
Tom Carew was next, but he had a fault,
That would not well stand with a Laureat;
His Muse was hard-bound, and th’ issue of ‘s brain
Was seldom brought forth but with trouble and pain.”