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As an historian, our author is the dullest of compilers. He is equally attentive to the succession of the mayors of London, and of the monarchs of England : and seems to have thought the dinners at Guildhall, and the pageantries of the city-companies, more interesting transactions, than our victories in France, and our struggles for public liberty at home. One of Fabyan's historical anecdotes, under the important reign of Henry the Fifth, is, that a new weathercock was placed on the cross of Saint Paul's steeple. It is said that cardinal Wolsey commanded many copies of this chronicle to be committed to the flames, because it made too ample a discovery of the excessive revenues of the clergy. The earlier chapters of these childish annals faithfully record all those fabulous traditions, which generally supply the place of historic monuments in de scribing the origin of a great nation. .
Another poet of this period is John Watson, a priest. He wrote a Latin theological tract entitled SPECULUM CHRISTIANI, which is a sort of paraphrase on the decalogue and the creed". But it is interspersed with a great number of wretched English rhymes: among which, is the following hymn to the virgin Marys.
Mary Moder, wel thu be;
Mary Moder thenk on me: many alterations, additions, and omis- poems deserve no further mention : nor sions. This is addressed to James the would they have been mentioned at all, First, as appears from st. 6. 259. 260. but from their reference to the text, and 326, &c. It contains 581 stanzas. There on account of their subject. Compare . is another copy in the same library, MSS. Harl. 2251. 119. fol. 254. 'An Num, 558. At the end the poet calls unfinished poem on Edward the Sehimself INFORTUNIO. This is an appel- cond, perhaps by Lydgate. Princ. “Belation which, I think, Spenser sometimes holde this greate prince Edward the assamed. But Spenser was dead before Secunde." [The author of this poem, the reign of James : nor has this piece on the Miseries of Edward II. was Ralph any of Spenser's characteristic merit. It Starkey, the antiquary.-Ritson.] begins thus
MSS. C. C. C. Oxon. 155. MSS.
Laud. G.12. MSS. Thoresb. 530. There I sing thy sad disaster, fatal king, Carnarvon Edward, second of that name.
is an abridgement of this work, (MSS.
Harl. 2250. 20.] with the date 1477. The poem on this subject in the addition This is rather beyond the period with to the MirroUR OF MAGISTRATES, by which we are at present engaged. William Niccols, is a different composi Compare a hymn to the holy virgin, tion. A WINTER Night's Vision. Lond. supra, vol. ii. p. 150. Mathew Paris 1610. p. 702. These two manuscript relates, that Godrich, a hermit, about
Mayden and moder was never non
Caxton, the celebrated printer, was likewise a poet; and beside the rhyming introductions and epilogues with which he frequently decorates his books, has left a poem of considerable
the year 1150, who lived in a solitary Mayden moder milde, oiez cel oreysoun, wild on the banks of the river Ware near From shome pou me shilde, e di ly nual Durham, had a vision, in his oratory, of feloun, the virgin Mary, who taught him this For love of thine childe, me menez de song.
Ich wes wod and wilde, ore su en priSainte Marie (clane] virgine, Moder Jhesu Cristes Nazarene, Onfo, schild, help thir Godric
See also ibid. 49. fol. 75.-57, fol. 78. Onfang, bring hegilich with the in godes And 372. 7. fol. 55. riche.
In the library of Mr. Farmer, of TusSainte Marie, Christes bur,
more in Oxfordshire, are, or were lately, Maidens clenhad, moderes flur,
a collection of hymns and antiphones, Dilie min sinne, rix in min mod,
paraphrased into English by William Bring me to winne with the selfd god.
Herbert, a Franciscan frier, and a fa
mous preacher, about the year 1330. Matt. Paris. Hist. Angl. (Henric. ii.] These, with some other of his pieces p. 115. edit. Tig. 1589. [The present contained in the same library, are untext has been taken from Mr. Ritson's mentioned by Bale, v. 31. And Pitts, Bibliographia Poetica.-Edit.] p. 428. [Autogr. in pergamen.) Pierre de
In one of the Harleian manuscripts, Corbian, a troubadour, has left a hymn, many very antient hymns to the holy or prayer, to the holy virgin : which, he virgin occur. MS. 2253. These are says, he chose to compose in the rospecimens. 66. fol. 80, b.
mance-language, because he could write Blessed be pou (thou] levedy, ful of it more intelligibly than Latin. Another
troubadour, a mendicant frier of the heovene blisse, Swete flur of parays, moder of milde- thirteenth century, had worked himself
up into such a pitch of enthusiasm conPreye Jhesu fy (thy) sone þat [that] deeply in love with her. It is partly
cerning the holy virgin, that he became he me rede and wysse
owing, as I have already hinted, to the So my wey forte gon, pat ne me never
gallantry of the dark ages, in which the mysse.
female sex was treated with so romantic Ibid. 67. fol. 81. b.
a respect, that the virgin Mary received
such exaggerated honours, and was so As y me rod pis ender day,
distinguished an object of adoration in By grene wode to seche phy,
the devotion of those times. Mid herte y pohte al on a May (Maid),
+ These four lines are in the exordium Swetest of alle finge! Lype, and ich ou telle may al of fat 2382. (410.) 3. fol. 86. b. (See supra,
of a prayer to the virgin, MSS. Harl, suete pinge.
vol. ii. p. 369. Ibid. 69. fol. 83. In French and En. u Printed by William Maclyn or glish,
Machlinia. Without date.
length, entitled the WORKE OF SAPIENCE". It comprehends, not only an allegorical fiction concerning the two courts of the castle of Sapience, in which there is no imagination, but a system of natural philosophy, grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, astronomy, theology, and other topics of the fashionable literature. Caxton appears to be the author, by the prologue: yet it is not improbable, that he might on this occasion employ some professed versifier, at least as an assistant, to prepare a new book of original poetry for his press. The writer's design, is to describe the effects of wisdom from the beginning of the world: and the work is a history of knowledge or learning, In a vision, he meets the goddess SAPIENCE in a delightful meadow; who conducts him to her castle, or mansion, and there displays all her miraculous operations. Caxton, in the poem, invokes the gylted goddess and moost facundyous lady Clio, apologises to those makers who delight in termes gay, for the inelegancies of language which as a foreigner he could not avoid, and modestly declares, that he neither means to rival of envy Gower and Chaucer.
Among the anonymous pieces of poetry belonging to this period, which are very numerous, the most conspicuous is the KALENDAR OF SHEPHERDS. It seems to have been translated into English about the year 1480, from a French book entitled KALENDRIER DES Bergers. It was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in the year 1497%. This piece was calculated for the purposes of a perpetual almanac; and seems to have been the universal magazine of every article of salutary and useful knowledge. It is a medley of verse and prose; and contains, among
Printed by him without date. fol. in reprinted although not so faithfully as thirty-seven leaves. [But inore justly the original copy required," &c. It was attributed to Lydgate. -Ritson.] certainly first printed by de Worde, 1497.
* I have seen an edition of the French, Again, ch. ii. “ From the yeare this kaof 1500.
lender was made m.cccc.xcvik. unto the y I have an edition printed by John yeare M.ccccc. XVI." From whence I Wally, at London, without date. 4to. conclude, that Worde's edition was in In the prologue it is said, “ This book 1497, Wally's in 1516. Again, “ This was first corruptly printed in France, yeare of the present kalender whiche and after that at the cost and charges of began to have course the first daye of Richard Pinson newly translated and January M.cccc.xcvii."
many other curious particulars, the saints of the whole year, the moveable feasts, the signs of the zodiac, the properties of the twelve months, rules for blood-letting, a collection of proverbs, a system of ethics, politics, divinity, physiognomy, medicine, astrology, and geographyz. Among other authors, Cathon the great clarke, Solomon, Ptolomeus the prince of astronomy, and Aristotle's Epistle to Alexander, are quoted. Every month is introduced respectively speaking, in a stanza of balad royal, its own panegyric. This is the speech of May.
Of all monthes in the yeare I am kinge,
With fragrant flowers all about renewed. In the theological part, the terrors and certainty of death are described, by the introduction of Death, seated on the pale horse of the Apocalypse, and speaking thus d.
Upon this horse, blacke and hideous
All gay colours I do hitte. ? Pieces of this sort were not uncom The reader who is curious to know mon. In the British Museum there is the state of quackery, astrology, fortunean ASTROLOGICAL poem, teaching when telling, midwifery, and other occult to buy and sell, to let blood, to build, to sciences, about the year 1420, may congo to sea, the fortune of children, the sult the works of one John Crophill, interpretation of dreams, with other like who practised in Suffolk. MSS. Harl important particulars, from the day of 1735. 4to. 3. seq. [See fol. 29. 36.] the moon's age. MSS. Harl. 2320. 3. This cunning-man was likewise a poet; fol. 91. In the principal letter the au- and has left, in the same manuscript, thor is represented in a studious posture. some poetry spoken at an entertainment The manuscript, having many Saxon of Frere Thomas, and five ladies of qualetters intermixed, begins thus. lity, whose names are mentioned : at He that wol herkyn of wit
which, two great bowls, or goblets, called That ys witnest in holy wryt,
MERCY and CHARITY, were briskly cir
culated. fol. 48. Lystenyth to me a stonde, Of a story y schal zow telle,
Epilogue. What tyme ys good to byen and to sylle,
* Cap. 42.
Cap. 2. Ia bok as hyt ye y fownde.
a Cap. xix. '
My horse runneth by dales and hilles,
Paradyse hath not the fourth parte, &c. In the eighth chapter of our KALENDER are described the seven visions, or the punishments in hell of the seven deadly sins, which Lazarus saw between his death and resurrection. These punishments are imagined with great strength of fancy, and accompanied with wooden cuts boldly touched, and which the printer Wynkyn de Worde probably procured from some German engraver at the infancy of the art. The Proud are bound by hooks of iron to vast wheels, like mills, placed between craggy precipices, which are incessantly whirling with the most violent impetuosity, and sound like thunder. The Envious are plunged in a lake half frozen, from which as they attempt to emerge for ease, their naked limbs are instantly smote with a blast of such intolerable keenness, that they are compelled to dive again into the lake. To the WRATHFULL is assigned a gloomy cavern, in which their bodies are butchered, and their limbs mangled by demons with various weapons. The SLOTHPULL are tormented in a horrible hall dark and tenebrous, swarming with innumerable flying serpents of various shapes and sizes, which sting to the heart. This, I think, is the Hell of the Gothic Edda. The Coverous are dipped in cauldrons
Compare the torments of Dante's hell. Inf. Cant. v.vi.seq.