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sima Oxoniensi Achademia LAUREATI, DE OCTO PARTIBUS OrationISM.” In his PANEGYRIC to cardinal Wolsey, he mentions his laurel,
Suscipe LAURICOMI munuscula parva Roberti*. With regard to the Poet laureate of the kings of England, an officer of the court remaining under that title to this day, he is undoubtedly the same that is styled the King's VERSIFIER, and to whom one hundred shillings were paid as his annual stipend, in the year 1251o. But when or how that title commenced, and whether this officer was ever solemnly crowned with laurel at his first investiture, I will not pretend to deter, mine, after the searches of the learned Selden on this question have proved unsuccessful. It seems most probable, that the barbarous and inglorious name of VERSIFIER gradually gave way to an appellation of more elegance and dignity: or rather, that at length, those only were in general invited to this appointment, who had received academical sanction, and had merited a crown of laurel in the universities for their abilities in Latin composition, particularly Latin versification. Thus the king's Laureate was nothing more than “a graduated rhetorician employed in the service of the king.” That he originally wrote in Latin, appears from the antient title versificator: and may be moreover collected from the two Latin poems, which Baston and Gulielmus, who appear to have respectively acted in the capacity of royal poets to Richard the First and Edward the Second,
m Lond. 1513. See the next note. of Suffolk, sir Thomas More, and to
* In his “Opusculum Roberti Whit- Skelton, under the title Ad lepridissimum, tintoni in florentissima Oxoniensi acha- poetam SCHELTONEM carmen, &c. Some demia laureati.” Signat. A. iii. Bl. of the lines are in a very classical style, Let. 4to. Colophon, “ Expliciunt Ro- and much in the manner of the earlier berti Whittintoni Oxonii protovatis cpi. Latin Italian poets. At the end of these grammata, una cum quibusdam panegy- Latin poems is a defence of the author, ricis, impressa Londini per me Wynan- called 'ANTILYCON, &c. This book is dum de Worde. Anno post virgineum extremely scarce, and not mentioned by partum M.ccccc. xix. decimo vero Kal. Wood, Ames, and some other collecMaii.” The Panegyrics are, on Henry tors. These pieces are in manuscript, the Eighth, and cardinal Wolsey. The Oxon. MSS. Bodl. D. 3. 22. Epigrams, which are long copies of verse, • See supr. vol. i. p. 51. are addressed to Charles Brandon duke
officially composed on Richard's crusade, and Edward's siege of Striveling castle P.
Andrew Bernard, successively poet laureate of Henry the Seventh and the Eighth, affords a still stronger proof that this officer was a Latin scholar. He was a native of Tholouse, and an Augustine monk. He was not only the king's poet laureate", as it is supposed, but his historiographer', and preceptor in grammar to prince Arthur. He obtained many ecclesiastical preferments in England. All the pieces now to be found, which he wrote in the character of poet laureate, are in Latin'. These are, an Address to Henry the Eighth for the most auspicious beginning of the tenth year of his reign, with an EPITHALAMIUM on the marriage of Francis the Dauphin of France with the king's daughterų, A New Year's Gift for
P. See supra, vol. ii. p. 64, By the way, is observable that Petrarch was laureated Baston is called by Bale “laureatus apud as poet and historian. Oxonienses." Cent. iv. cap. 92.
* One of these, the mastership of saint See an instrument Pro POETA LAU. Leonard's hospital at Bedford, was given REATO. dat. 1486. Rymer's Foed. tom. xii. him by bishop Smith, one of the founders p. 317. But, by the way, in this instru- of Brasc-nose college, Oxford, in the ment there is no specification of any year 1498. Registr. Smith, episc. Linthing to be done officially by Bernard. coln. sub ann. The king only grants to Andrew Ber Some of Skelton's Latin poems seem nard, Poetæ laureato, which we may con to be written in the character of the strue either The laureated groet, or A poet Royal laureate, particularly one, enlaureate, a salary of ten marcs, till he can titled “ Hæc Laureatus Skeltonus, orator obtain some equivalent appointment. reginæ, super triumphali," &c. It is subThis, however, is only a precept to the scribed “Per Skeltonida Laureatum, treasurer and chamberlains to disburse oratorem regium.” Works, p. 110. edit. the salary, and refers to letters patent; ut supr. Hardly any of his English not printed by Rymer. It is certain that pieces, which are numerous, appear to Gower and Chaucer were never appointed belong to that character. With regard to this office, notwithstanding this is com to the ORATOR REgius, I find one John monly supposed. Skelton, in his CROWNE Mallard in that office to Henry the or LAWRELL, sees Gower, Chaucer, and Eighth, and his epistolary secretary. He Lydgate approach: he describes their has left a Latin clegiac paraphrase on the whole apparel as glittering with the Lord's prayer, MSS. Bibl. Reg. 7 D. xiii. richest precious stones, ar.d then imme- Dedicated to that king. Le premier livre diately adds,
de la cosmographie, in verse, ibid. 20 B.xii, They wanted nothing but the LAURELL. And a Psalter, beautifully written by Afterwards, however, there is the rubric bimself, for the use of the king. In the Maister Chaucer LAUREATE poete to Skel- margin, are short notes in the hand-wria ton. Works, p. 21. 22. edit. 1736.
ting, and two exquisite miniatures, of Apostolo Zeno was both poet and Henry the Eighth. Ibid. 2 A. xvi. historiographer to his imperial majesty.
u MS. olim penes Thom. Martin de
Palgrave, So was Dryden to James the Second. It
the year 1515". And verses wishing prosperity to his majesty's thirteenth year. He has left some Latin hymns: and many of his Latin prose pieces, which he wrote in the quality of historiographer to both monarchs, are remaining 2.
I am of opinion, that it was not customary for the royal laureate to write in English, till the reformation of religion had begun to diminish the veneration for the Latin language: or rather, till the love of novelty, and a better sense of things, had banished the narrow pedantries of monastic erudition, and taught us to cultivate our native tongue. In the mean time it is to be wished, that another change might at least be suffered to take place in the execution of this institution, which is confessedly Gothic, and unaccommodated to modern manners. I mean, that the more than annual return of a composition on a trite argument would be no longer required. I am conscious I say this at a time, when the best of kings affords the most just and copious theme for panegyric: but I speak it at a time, when the department is honourably filled by a poet of taste and genius, which are idly wasted on the most splendid subjects, when imposed by constraint, and perpetually repeated.
To what is here incidentally collected on an article more curious than important, I add an observation, which shews that the practice of other nations in this respect altogether corresponded with that of our own. When we read of the laureated poets of Italy and Germany, we are to remember, that they most commonly received this honour from the state, or some university; seldom, at least not immediately, from the prince: and if we find any of these professedly employed in the department of a court-poet, that they were not, in conse
W MSS. Coll. Nov. Oxon. 287. drew. MSS. Cotton. DoJITIAN. A.
* Brit. Mus. MSS. Reg. 12 A. x. The xviii. 15. copy presented. In paper. There is 2 A chronicle of the life and atchievea wretched false quantity in the firsi ments of Henry the Seventh to the taking line,
of Perkin Warbeck, MSS. Cotton. Do
MITIAN. A. Xviï. 15. Other historical Indue, honor, cultus, et adole munera flammis.
commentaries on the reign of that king.
Ibid. JUL. A. 4. JUL. A. 3.
quence of that peculiar situation, styled poets laureate. The distinction, at least in general, was previously conferreda.
John Scogan is commonly supposed to have been a cotemporary of Chaucer, but this is a mistake. He was educated at Oriel college in Oxford: and being an excellent mimic, and of great pleasantry in conversation, became the favourite buffoon of the court of Edward the Fourth, in which he passed the greatest part of his life. Bale inaccurately calls Scogan, the JOCULATOR of Edward the Fourth : by which word he seems simply to understand the king's JOKER, for he certainly could not mean that Scogan was his 'majesty's MINSTRELC. Andrew Borde, a mad physician and a dull poet in the reign of Henry the Eighth, published his JESTs, under the title of Scorin's Jests, which are without humour or invention; and
* The reader who requires a full and note below, says the same MS. calls it particular information concerning the “ Proverbium Johannis Skogan.” John first origin of the laureation of poets, Scogan appears to have been the author and the solemnities with which this cere of a poem called “ Colin Clout," now mony was performed in Italy and Ger- unknown. See Ritson's Bibl. Poetica, many, is referred to Selden's Tır. Hon. p. 99.--EDIT.] Op. tom. p. 457. seq. VIE DE PETRARQUE, Script. xi. 70. By the way, the SERtom. iii. Notes, &c. p. 1. Not. quat. And JEANT of the King's Minstrels occurs to a memoir of M. l'Abbè du Resnel, under this reign: and in a manner, Mem. Lit. X. 507. 4to. I will only add, which shews the confidential character the form of the creation of three poets of this officer, and his facility of access laureate by the chancellor of the univer to the king at all hours and on all occasity of Strasburgh, in the year 1621. sions. “And as he [k. Edward IV.] “ I create you, being placed in a chair was in the north contray in the moneth of state, crowned with laurel and ivy, of Septembre, as he laye in his bedde, and wearing a ring of gold, and the same one namid Alexander Carlisle, that was do pronounce and constitute, POETS LAU- sariaunt of the mynstrallis, cam to him in REATE, in the name of the holy Trinity, grete haste, and bade hym aryse, for he the father, son, and holy ghost. Amen." hadde enemys cummyng," &c. A RE
DSee Hollinsh. Chron. iii. f. 710. It MARKABLE FRAGMENT, etc. [an. ix. Edis uncertain whether the poem addressed ward IV.)
ad calc. SPORTTI Chron. edit. by Chaucer to Scogan, was really written Hearne. Oxon. 1729. 8vo. ' Compare by the former, MSS. Fairfax. xvi. Percy's Ess. Minstr. p. 56. Anstis,
(Mr. Ritson has shewn that the con ORD. Gart. ii. 303. temporary of Chaucer was Henry, and . It is from these pieces we learn that the person mentioned by Hollinshed he was of Oriel college: for he speaks John Scogan. The moral balade, no of retiring, with that society, to the hosticed in the text, must be attributed to pital of saint Bartholomew, while the the former, to whom Mr. Ritson also plague was at Oxford. These Jests are ascribes on the authority of a MS. in sixty in number. Pr. Pref. “ There is C. C. C. Oxford, "a 'balade' usually nothing besides.” Pr. « On a time in printed as Chaucer's, and beginning Lent.' They were reprinted about the « le from the prese," &c. Warton in a restoration. Ato.
give us no very favourable idea of the delicacy of the king and courtiers, who could be exhilarated by the merriments of such a writer. A MORAL BALADE, printed in Chaucer's works, addressed to the dukes of Clarence, Bedford, and Gloucester, and sent from a tavern in the Vintry at London, is attributed to Scogano. But our jocular bard evidently mistakes his talents when he attempts to give advice. This piece is the dullest sermon that ever was written in the octave stanza. Bale mentions his COMEDIES'', which certainly mean nothing dramatic, and are perhaps only his Jests above mentioned. He seems to have flourished about the year 1480.
Two didactic poets on chemistry appeared in this reign, John Norton and George Ripley. Norton was a native of Bristol, and the most skillful alchemist of his ageh. His poem is called the ORDINAL, or a manual of the chemical art! It was presented to Nevil archbishop of York, who was a great patron of the hermetic philosophersk; which were lately grown so numerous in England, as to occasion an act of parliament against the transmutation of metals. Norton's reason for treating his subject in English rhyme, was to circulate the principles of a science of the most consummate utility among the unlearned!. This poem is totally void of every poetical elegance. The only wonder which it relates, belonging to an art, so fertile in striking inventions, and contributing to enrich the store house of Arabian romance with so many magnificent imageries, is that
• It may yet be doubted whether it five times mayor of Bristol, and the belongs to Scogan; as it must have been founder of saint Mary of Radcliffe written before the year 1447, and the church there. ORDINAL, p. 34. writer complains of the approach of old ń Printed by Ashmole, in his THEAage. Col. i. v, 10. It was first printed, TRUM CHEMICUM. Lond. 1652. 8vo. p. 6. under Scogan's name, by Caxton, in the It was finished A. D. 1477. Ordix. COLLECTION OF CHaucer's and Lyd- p. 106. It was translated into Latin by GATE'S POEMS. The little piece, printed Michael Maier, M. D. Francof. 1618. as Chaucer's, (Urr. ed. p. 548.) called 4to. Norton wrote other chemical FLEE FROM THE PRESSE, is expressly pieces. given to Scogan, and called Prover See Ordix. p. 9. 10. Norton de RIUM JOANNIS SKOGAN, MSS. C.C.C. clares, that he learned his art in forty Oxon. 203.
days, at twenty-eight years of age. Ibid. f xi. 70.
& He speaks of the wife of William * Ashmole, ubi supr. p. 455. Notes. Canning, who will occur again below, I Pag. 106.
p. 33. 88.