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among Selden's manuscripts in the Bodleian library'. Our author is concife and compendious in his narrative of events from Brutus to the reign of king Henry the fourth : he is much more minute and diffuse in relating those affairs of which, for more than the space of fixty years, he was a living witness, and which occurred from that period to the reign of Edward the fourth. The poem seems to have been completed about the year 1470. In his final chapter he exhorts the king, to recall his rival king Henry the sixth, and to restore the partisans of that unhappy prince.
This work is almost beneath criticism, and fit only for the attention of an antiquary. Harding may be pronounced to be the most impotent of our metrical historians, especially when we recollect the great improvements which English poetry had now received. I will not even except Robert of Gloucester, who lived in the infancy of taste and versification. The chronicle of this authentic and laborious annalist has hardly thofe more modest graces, which could properly recommend and adorn a detail of the British story in prose: He has left fome pieces in prose : and Winstanly says, “ his prose was very usefull, so was his poetry as much de
lightfull.” I am of opinion, that both his prose and poetry are equally useful and delightful. What can be more frigid and unanimated than these lines?
Kyng Arthur then in Avalon so dyed,
Y: MSS. Archiv. Seld. B. 26. It is richly titled, The CHRONICLE OF JOHN HARDbound and studded. At the end is a cu ING. in metre from the beginning of England tious map of Scotland; together with many unto the reign of Edward the fourth. MSS. prose pieces by Harding of the historical Alhmol. Oxon. 34. membran. kind.' The Ashmolean manuscript is en
Where Geryn earle of Chartres then abode
Fuller affirms our author to have “ drunk as deep a “ draught of Helicon as any of his age.” An assertion partly true: it is certain, however, that the diction and imagery of our poetic composition would have remained in just the same state had Harding never wrote.
In this reign, the first mention of the king's poet, under the appellation of LAUREATE, occurs. John Kay was appointed poet laureate to Edward the fourth. It is extraordinary, that he should have left no pieces of poetry to prove his pretensions in some degree to this office, with which he is said to have been invested by the king, at his return from Italy. The only composition he has transmitted to posterity is a profe English translation of a Latin history of the Siege of Rhodes: in the dedication addressed to king Edward, or rather in the title, he styles himself bys humble poete laureate. Although this our laureate furnishes us with no materials as a poet, yet his office, which here occurs for the first time under this denomination, must not pass unnoticed
z Ch. lxxxiv, fol. lxxvii. edit. Graft. 1543
a MSS. Cotton. Brit. Muf. ViteLL. D. xii. 10.
It was printed at London, 1506. This impression was in Henry Worsley's library, Cat. MSS. Angl. etc. tom. ii. p. 212. N. 6873. 25. I know nothing of the Latin ; except that Gulielmus Caorsinus, vice-chancellor for forty years of the knights of Malta, wrote an OBSIDIO RHODIÆ URBIS, when it was in vain attempted to be taken by the Turks in 1480. Separately
printed without date or place in quarto.
The works of this Gulielmus,
One John Caius a poet of Cambridge is mentioned in fir T. More's Works, p. 204. And in Parker's Def. of Pr. Marr. against Martin, p. 99.
in the annals of English poetry, and will produce a short digreffion.
Great confufion has entered into this subject, on account of the degrees in grammar, which included rhetoric and verfification, antiently taken in our univerfities, particularly at Oxford : on which occasion, a wreath of laurel was presented to the new graduate, who was afterwards usually styled poeta laureatus“. Thefe fcholastic laureations, however, seem to have given rife to the appellation in question. I will give some instances at Oxford, which at the same time will explain the nature of the studies for which our accademical philologists received their rewards. About the year 1470, one John Watson, a student in grammar, obtained a concession to be graduated and laureated in that feience; on condition that he compofed one hundred Latin verses in praise of the university, and a Latin comedy". Another grammarian was distinguished with the same badge, after having stipulated, that, at the next public Act, he would affix the same number of hexameters on the great gates of saint Mary's church, that they might be seen by the whole university. This was at that period the most convenient mode of publicationo. About the fame time, one Maurice Byr
h In the antient statutes of the university Courtney bishop of Norwich, treating of of Oxford, every Regent Master in Gram the nature of metro in general, and esmar is prohibited from reading in his fa pecially of the common metres of the Hymns culty, unless he first pass an examination de of Boecius and Oracius [Horace.] Oxon. MODO VERSIFICANDI et dictandi, &c. MSS. Coll. Merton. Q. iii. 1. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. fol. membran. Arch. A. · When any of these graduated gram91. [nunc 2874.) f. 55. b. This fcho marians were licenced to teach boys, they lastic cultivation of the art of PROSODY were publicly presented in the Convocationgave rise to many Latin systems of Metre house with a rod and ferrel. Regiftr. Univ. about this period. Among others, Thomas Oxon. G. fol. Langley, a monk of Hulm in Norfolk, in
Registr. Univ. Oxon. G. fol. 143. I the year 1430, wrote, in two books, DE VA take this opportunity of acknowledging RIETATE CARMINUM. Bibl. Bodl. MSS. my obligations to the learned Mr. Swin. Digb. 100. One John Seguard, a Latin ton, keeper of the Archives at Oxford, for poet and rhetorician of Norwich, about the giving me frequent and free access to the year 1414, wrote a piece of this kind call Registers of that university. ed METRISTENCHIRIDION, addressed to e Ibid fol. 162.
chensaw, a scholar in rhetoric, supplicated to be admitted to read lectures, that is, to take a degree, in that faculty ; and his petition was granted, with a 'provision, that he should write one hundred verses on the glory of the univerlity, and not suffer Ovid's Art of Love, and the Etegies of Pamphilus', to be studied in his auditory. Not long afterwards, one John Bulman, another rhetorician, having complied with the terms imposed, of explaining the first book of Tully's OFFICES, and likewise the first of his Epistles, without any pecuniary emolument, was graduated in rhetoric; and a crown of laurel was publicly placed on his head by the hands of the chancellour of the university". About the year 1489', Skelton was laureated at Oxford, and in the year 1493, was permitted to wear his laurel at Cambridge *. Robert Whittington affords the last instance of a rhetorical degree at Oxford. He was a secular priest, and eminent for his various treatises in grammar, and for his facility in Latin poetry: having exercised his art many years, and submitting to the customary demand of an hundred verses, he was honoured with the laurel in the year 1512'. This title is
'Ovid's fuppofititious pieces, and other verses of the lower age, were printed together by Goldaftus, Francof. 1610. 8vo. Among these is, « Pamphili Mauriliani “ PAMPHILUS, five de Arte Amandi,
Elegiæ lxiii.” This is from the same school with Ovid DE VETULA, and by some thought to be forged by the same author.
Registr. Univ. Oxon. G. fol. 134. a.
Caxton, in the preface to his English ENEYDOS, Mentions “ mayster John Skel“ ton, late created poete laureate in the “ universite of Oxenford, &c.” This work was printed in 1490. Churchyard mentions Skelton's accademical laureation, in his poem prefixed to Skelton's works, Lond. 1568. 8vo.
Nay Skelton wore the laurel wreath,
And paft in fcholes ye knoe.
That war the garland wreath
Of laurel leaves fo late. * Registr.Univ.Cantabrig. sub anno. Con“ ceditur Johanni Skelton poetæ in partibus “ transmarinis atque Oxonii laurea ornato, “ ut apud nos eadem decoraretur.” And afterwards, Ann. 1504, 5.
“ Conceditur Johanni Skelton poete laureato quod
poflit constare eodem gradu hic quo “ stetit Oxonii, et quod poffit uti habitu “ sibi concesso a principe.” The latter clause, I believe, relates to some distinction of habit, perhaps of fur or velvet, granted him by the king. Skelton is said to have been poet laureate to Henry the eighth. He also styles himself Orator regius, p.1. 6. 109. 107. 284. 285. 287. Works,
i Registr. Univ. Oxon. ut supr. G. 173. b. 187. b.
prefixed to one of his grammatical systems.
C. ROBERTI “ WHITTINTONI, Lichfeldienhs, Grammatices Magiftri, PRO“ TOVATIS Anglia, in florentisma Oxoniens Achademia Lau
REATI, de Octo PARTIBUS ORATIONIS.” In his PANEGyric to cardinal Wolsey, he mentions his laurel,
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 1251'. But when or how that title commenced, and whether this officer was ever folemnly crowned with laurel at his first investiture, I will not pretend to determine, 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 accademical sanction, and had merited a crown of laurel in the universities for their abilities in Latin compofition, particularly Latin versification.
Thus the king's Laureate was nothing more than “ a graduated rhetorician
m Lond. 1513. See the next note. dressed to Charles Brandon duke of Suf
n In his " Opusculum Roberti Whittin folk, fir Thomas More, and to Skelton, • toni in forentiffima Oxoniensi achademia under the title Ad lepidiffimum poetam “ laureati.” Signat. A. iii. Bl. Let. 4to. SCHELTONEM carmen, &c. Some of the Colophon, “ Expliciunt Roberti whit lines are in a very classical style, and much “ tintoni Oxonii protovatis epigrammata, in the manner of the earlier Latin Italian
cum quibusdam panegyricis, in poets. At the end of these Latin poems is pressa Londini per me Wynandum de à defence of the author, called ANTILY• Worde. Anno post virgineum partum CON, &c. This book is extremely scarce,
M,ccccc. xix. decimo vero Kal. Maii." and not mentioned by Wood, Ames, and The Panegyrics are, on Henry the eighth, some other collectors. These pieces are in and cardinal Wolsey. The Epigrams, manuscript, Oxon. MSS. Bodl. D. 3. 22. which are long copies of verse, are ad See fupr. vol. i. p. 47.