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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 b. 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 gentle earl of Kent, called the Citie of Dames [Ladyes *), 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
Yeoman of the seller with the eight king Henry. Another translator of French into English, much about the same 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 passyon of our lord Jesu Crist translated out of French into Englysch by Andrew Chertsey gentleman the yere of our lord MDXX. I will give two stanzas
des Dames,” by Christian of Pise. b“ Ob editas CoMCDIAS.” Ubi supr. Hist. Sketch, ii. 20.-Park.] * (Mr. Ellis conjectures this to be a
in quarto. translation of the is Tresor de la Cité
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
As is, the floure of Gods commaundements,
A vertuose use and ryght commendable. The Flnire of God's Commaundements was printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in folio, in 1521. A print of the author's arms, with the name CHERTSEY, is added. The Lucydayre is translated from a favorite old French poem called Li Lusidaire. 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 Ashby, clerk of the signet to Margaret queen of Henry the Sixth, 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
• Wynkyn de Worde printed, Here darye. With wooden cuts. begynneth a lytell treatyse called the Lycy- In quarto.
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 Fabell, 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 sleighte trickes for his own disportes. He lived and died in the raigne of Henry the Seventh, saith the booke of his merry Pranks.” The book of Fabell's Merry Pranks I have never
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-sidet. In the Prologue, Fabell is introduced, reciting his own history.
Tis Peter Fabell a renowned scholler,
• MSS. MORE, 492. It begins, “ Right (high) and myghty prince and my ryght good lorde,
If any heere make doubt of such a name,
The commicke end of our sad tragique show. The play is without absurdities, and the author was evidently an attentive reader of Shakespeare. It has nothing, except the machine of the chime, in common with FABYLL's Ghoste. Fabell is mentioned in our chronicle-histories, and, from his dealings with the devil, was commonly supposed to be a friarh
In the year 1537, Wilfrid Holme, a gentleman of Huntington in Yorkshire, wrote a poem called The Fall and evil Success
n See also Norden's SIECULUM Bri- p. 18. And Fuller's WORTHIES, MIDTANNIÆ, written in 1596. MIDDLESEX, DLESEX, p. 186. edit. fol. 1662.
of Rebellion. It is a dialogue between England and the author, on the commotions raised in the northern counties on account of the reformation in 1537, under Cromwell's administration. It was printed at London in 1573. Alliteration is here carried to the most ridiculous excess: and from the constraint of adhering inviolably to an identity of initials, from an affectation of coining prolix words from the Latin, and from a total ignorance of prosodical harmony, the author has produced one of the most obscure, rough, and unpleasing pieces of versification in our language. He seems to have been a disciple of Skelton. The poem, probably from its political reference, is mentioned by Hollinshed! Bale, who overlooks the author's poetry in his piety, thinks that he has learnedly and perspicuously discussed the absurdities of popery k
One Charles Bansley, about the year 1540, wrote a rhyming satire on the pride and vices of women now a days. I know not if the first line will tempt the reader to see more.
“ Bo peep, what have we spied !' ” It was printed in quarto by Thomas Rainolde; but I do not find it among Ames's books of that printer, whose last piece is dated 1555. Of equal reputation is Christopher Goodwin, who wrote the Mayden's DREME, a vision without imagination, printed in 1542', and THE CHANCE OF THE DOLORUS Lover, a lamentable story without pathos, printed in 1520m. With these two may be ranked, Richard [Thomas] Feylde, or Field, author of a poem printed in quarto by Wynkyn de Worde, called A CONTRAVERSYE BETWENE A LOVER AND A JAYE. The prologue begins
Thoughe laureate poetes in olde antyquyte. I must not forget to observe here, that Edward Haliwell, admitted a fellow of King's college Cambridge in 1532, wrote the Tragedy of Dido, which was acted at saint Paul's school i Chron. iii. p. 978.
m In 4to. Pr. “Upon a certain tyme 1 In 4to. Pr. « Behold you young la as it befell." dies of high parentage.