תמונות בעמוד

being called in as a physician to fir John Drury, the year when cardinal Wolsey was promoted to York; but that he did not chuse to prescribe without consulting doctor Buttes, the king's physician. He apologises to the duke, for not writing in the ornate phraseology now generally affected. He also hopes to be excused, for using in his writings so many wordes of mirth: but this, he says, was only to make your grace merrie, and because mirth has ever been esteemed the best medicine. Borde must have had no small share of vanity, who could think thus highly of his own pleasantry. And to what a degree of taste and refinement must our antient dukes and lords treasurers have arrived, who could be exhilarated by the witticisms and the lively language of this facetious philosopher ?

John Bale, a tolerable Latin classic, and an eminent biographer, before his conversion from popery, and his advancement to the bishoprick of Ofsory by king Edward the fixth, composed many scriptural interludes, chiefly from incidents of the New Testament. They are, the Life of Saint John the Baptist, written in 1538. Christ in his twelfth

year. Baptism and Temptation. The Resurrection of Lazarus. The Council of the High-priests. Simon the Leper. Our Lord's Supper, and the Washing of the feet of his Disciples. Christ's Burial and Resurrection. The Passion of Christ. The Comedie of the three Laws of Nature, Moses, and Christ, corrupted by the Sodomites, Pharisees, and Papists, printed by Nicholas Bamburgh in 1538: and so popular, that it was reprinted by Colwell in 1562". God's Promises to Man". Our author, in his Vocacyon to the Bishoprick of Osory, informs us, that his Comedy of John the Baptist, and his TRAGEDY of God's Promises, were acted by the youths upon a Sunday, at the market cross of Kilkenny *. What shall we think of the state, I will not say of the stage, but of common sense, when these deplorable dramas could be

• Both in quarto. At the end is A Song printed under the name of a TRAGEDIE or of Benedi&tus, compiled by Johan Bale, ENTERLUDE, by Charlewood, 1577. 4to. * This was written in 1538. And firkt

endured ?

* Fol. 24.

endured? Of an age, when the Bible was profaned and ridiculed from a principle of piety? But the falhion of acting mysteries appears to have expired with this writer. He is said, by him. self, to have written a book of Hymns, and another of jests and tales : and to have translated the tragedy of PAMMACHIUS'; the same perhaps which was acted at Christ's college in Cambridge in 1544, and afterwards laid before the privy council as a libel on the reformation”. A low vein of abusive burlesque, which had more virulence than humour, seems to have been one of Bale's talents : two of his pamphlets against the papists, all whom he considered as monks, are entitled the MASS OF The GLUTTONS, and the ALCORAN OF THE PRELATES'. Next to exposing the impostures of popery, literary history was his favorite pursuit: and his most celebrated performance is his account of the British writers. But this work, perhaps originally undertaken by Bale as a vehicle of his sentiments in religion, is not only full of misrepresentations and partialities, arising from his religious prejudices, but of general inaccuracies, proceeding from negligence or misinformation. Even those more antient Lives which he transcribes from Leland's commentary on the same subject, are often interpolated with false facts, and impertinently marked with a misapplied zeal for reformation. He is angry with many authors, who flourished before the thirteenth century, for being catholics. He tells us, that lord Cromwell frequently screened him from the fury of the more bigotted bishops, on account of the comedies he had published'. But whether plays in particular, or other compositions, are here to be understood by comedies, is uncertain.

Brian Anslay, or Annesley, yeoman of the wine cellar to Henry the eighth about the year 1520, translated a popular French poem into English rhymes, at the exhortation of the

[blocks in formation]

gentle earl of Kent, called the CITIE OF DAMEs, in three books. It was printed in 1521, by Henry Pepwell, whose prologue prefixed begins with these unpromising lines,

So now of late came into my custode
This forseyde book, by Brian Anllay,
Yeoman of the seller with the eight king Henry.

Another translator of French into English, much about the fame time, is Andrew Chertsey. In the year 1520, Wynkyn de Worde printed a book with this title, partly in prose and partly in verse, Here foloweth the passion of our lord Jesu Crift translated out of French into Englysch by Andrew Chertsey gentleman the yere of our lord MDXX'. I will give two stanzas of Robert Copland's prologue, as it records the diligence, and some other performances, of this very obscure writer.

The godly use of prudent-wytted men
Cannot absteyn theyr auncyent exercise.
Recorde of late how besiley with his pen
The translator of the fayd treaty se
Hath him indevered, in most godly wyse,
Bokes to translate, in volumes large and fayre,
From French in prose, of gooftly exemplaire.

As is, the floure of Gods commaundements,
A treatyse also called Lucydarye,
With two other of the fevyn facraments,
One of cristen men the ordinary,
The seconde the craft to lyve well and to dye.
With dyvers other to mannes lyfe profytable,
A vertuose use and ryght commendable.

The Floure of God's Commaundements was printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in folio, in 1521. A print of the author's arms, with

[blocks in formation]

the name Chertsey, is added. The Lucydayre is translated from a favorite old French poem called Li Lupidaire. This is a translation of the ELUCIDARIUM, a large work in dialogue, containing the sum of christian theology, by some attributed to Anselm archbishop of Canterbury in the twelfth century ". Chertsey's other versions, mentioned in Copland's prologue, are from old French manuals of devotion, now equally forgotten, Such has been the fate of volumes fayre and large! Some of these versions have been given to George Alhby, clerk of the signet to Margaret queen of Henry the fixth, who wrote a moral poem for the use of their son prince Edward, on the Active policy of a prince, finished in the author's eightieth year. The prologue begins with a compliment to “ Maisters Gower, Chaucer, and

Lydgate," a proof of the estimation which that celebrated triumvirate still continued to maintain. I believe it was never printed. But a copy, with a small mutilation at the end, remains among bishop More's manuscripts at Cambridge.

In the dispersed library of the late Mr. William Collins, I saw a thin folio of two sheets in black letter, containing a poem in the octave stanza, entitled, FABYL'S GHOSTE, printed by John Rastell in the year 1533. The piece is of no merit; and I should not perhaps have mentioned it, but as the subject serves to throw light on our early drama. Peter Fabell, whose apparition speaks in this poem, was called The Merrie Devil of Edmonton, near London. He lived in the reign of Henry the seventh, and was buried in the church of Edmonton. Weever, in his Antient Funeral Monuments, published in 1631, says under Edmonton, that in the church “ lieth interred under

a seemlie tombe without inscription, the body of Peter Fa“ bell, as the report goes, upon whom this fable was fathered, “ that he by his wittie devises beguiled the devill. Belike he “ was some ingenious-conceited gentleman, who did use some

& Wynkyn de Worde printed, Here begynneth a lytell treatyse called the Lycydarye. With wooden cuts. No date. In quarto.

• MSS. MORE, 492. It begins, “Right " and myghty prince and my ryght good

« lorde.

L 2

“ Neighte

fleighte trickes for his own disportes. He lived and died in - the raigne of Henry the seventh, faith the booke of his merry “ Pranks.” The book of Fabell's Merry Pranks I have never seen. But there is an old anonymous comedy, written in the reign of James the first, which took its rise from this merry magician. It was printed in 1617, and is called the Merry DEVIL OF EDMONTON, as it hath been sundry times acted by his majesties servants at the Globe on the Banke-side. In the Prologue, Fabell is introduced, reciting his own history.

Tis Peter Fabell a renowned scholler,
Whose fame hath still beene hitherto forgot
By all the writers of this latter age.
In Middle-sex his birth, and his aboade,
Not full feauen mile from this great famous citty :
That, for his fame in lights and magicke won,
Was cald the Merry Fiend of Edmonton.

heere make doubt of such a name,
In Edmonton yet freth vnto this day,
Fixt in the wall of that old ancient church
His monument remaineth to be seene :
His memory yet in the mouths of men,
That whilst he liu'd he could deceiue the deuill.
Imagine now, that whilft he is retirde,
From Cambridge backe vnto his natiue home,
Suppose the filent fable visage night,
Cafts her blacke curtaine ouer all the world,
And whilft he seepes within his filent bed,
Toyl’d with the studies of the passed day:
The very time and howre wherein that spirite
That many yeares attended his command;
And oftentimes 'twixt Cambridge and that towne,
Had in a minute borne him through the ayre,

Pag. 534.

& In quarto, Lond.


« הקודםהמשך »