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thor's stanza is verbose, prosaic, and tedious: and for many
pages together, his poetry is little better than a trite homily
in verfe. The title promises much character and pleasantry:
but we shall be disappointed, if we expect to find the foibles
of the crew of our fhip touched by the hand of the author
of the CANTERBURY Tales, or exposed in the rough yet
strong fatire of Pierce Plowman. He sometimes has a stroke
of humour: as in the following stanza, where he wishes to
take on board the eight secondaries, or minor canons, of his
college. “ Alexander Barclay ad Fatuos, ut dent locum OCTO
“ SECUNDARIIS beatæ Mariæ de Ottery, qui quidem prima hujus
“ ratis transtra merentur o.”
Softe, Foolis, softe, a litle slacke your pace,
Till I have space you to order by degree;
I have eyght neyghbours, that first shall have a place
Within this my shyp, for they most worthy be:
They may their learning receyve costles and free,
Their walles abutting and joining to the schooles P
Nothing they can', yet nought will they learn nor see,
Therefore shall they guide this one ship of fooles.
The ignorance of the English clergy is one of the chief ob-
jects of his animadversion. He says ',
For if one can flatter, and beare a hawke on his fift,
He shalbe made parson of Honington or of Clift.
These were rich benefices in the neighbourhood of faint Mary
Ottery. He disclaims the profane and petty tales of the times.
• Fol. 68.
p To the collegiate church of faint Mary Ottery a school was annexed, by the munificent founder, Grandison, bishop of
Exeter. This college was founded in the year 1337
I write no jeste ne tale of Robin Hood',
Nor sowe no sparkles, ne sede of vicioufnes ;
Wise men love vertue, wilde people wantonnes,
It longeth not my science nor cuning,
For Philip the sparrow the dirige to sing.
The last line is a ridicule on his cotemporary Skelton, who wrote a Litle BOKE OF PHILIP SPARROW, or a Dirge,
For the foule of Philip Sparrow
That was late slaine at Carow, &c'.
And in another place, he thus censures the fashionable reading of his age : much in the tone of his predecessor Hawes.
For goodly scripture is not worth an hawe,
But tales are loved ground of ribaudry,
And many are fo blinded with their foly,
That no scriptur thinke they so true nor gode
As is a foolish jest of Robin hode".
As a specimen of his general manner, I insert his character of the Student, or Bookworm : whom he supposes to be the First Fool in the vessel.
That "in this ship the chiefe place I governe,
By this wide sea with foolis wandering,
The cause is plaine and easy to discerne ;
Still am I busy bookes assembling,
" See Skelton's WORKS, p. 215. edit. 1736. This will be mentioned again, below.
Primus in excelso teneo quod nave rudentes,
Slaltivagosque sequor comites per flumina
Non ratione vacat certa, sensuque latenti :
Congeftis etenim ftultus confido libellis;
Spem quoque, nec parvam, congesta volu-
Calleo nec verbum, nec libri sentio mentem:
w I subjoin the Latin from which he translates, that the reader may judge how much is our poet's own. fol. 1. a.
For to have plentie it is a pleasaunt thing,
In my conceyt, to have them ay in hand;
But what they meane do I not understande.
But yet I have them in great reverence
And honour, saving them from filth and ordure;
By often brusshing and much diligence,
Full goodly bounde in pleasaunt coverture
Of damas, sattin, or els of velvet pure * :
I keepe them sure fearing least they should be lost
For in them is the cunning wherein I me boaft.
But if it fortune that any learned man
house fall to disputation,
I drawe the curtaynes to Thewe my bokes then,
That they of my cunning should make probation :
I love not to fall in alterication :
And while the commen, my bookes I turne and winde;
For all is in them, and nothing in my minde.
Ptolomeus ' the riche caused, longe agone,
Over all the worlde good bookes to be fought,
Done was his commandement, &c.
Lo in likewise of bookès I have store,
But few I reade, and fewer understande ;
I folowe not their doctrine, nor their lore,
It is enough to beare a booke in hande:
It were too much to be in such a lande ;
For to be bounde to loke within the booke
I am content on the fayre coveryng to looke. —
Eche is not lettred that nowe is made a lorde,
Nor eche a clerke that hath a benefice;
They are not all lawyers that plees do recorde,
All that are promoted are not fully wise ;
On suche chance now fortune throwes her dice:
That though one knowe but the yrishe game
Yet would he have a gentlemans name.
So in likewise, I am in such a case,
Though I nought can’, I would be called wise ;
Also I may fet another in my place
Which may for me my bookès exercise;
Or els I will ensue the common guise,
And say concedo to every argument
Lest by much speech my Latin should be spent“. In one part of the poem, Prodicus's apologue, of Hercules meeting Virtue and PLEASURE,' is introduced. In the speech of PLEASURE, our author changes his metre; and breaks forth into a lyrical strain, not totally void of elegance and delicacy, and in a rhythmical arrangement adopted by Gray.
All my vestùre is of golde pure,
My gay chaplèt with stonès set,
With couverture of fine asure,
In silver net my haire upknet,
Softe filke betwene, left it might fret;
My purple pall oercovereth all,
Cleare as cristàll, no thing egall.
With harpe in hande, alway I ftande,
Passing eche houre, in swete pleasoùr;
A wanton bande, of every lande,
Are in my towre, me to honoùr,
Some of valoùr, some bare and poore;
Kinges in their pride fit by my side:
Every freshe floure, of swete odourè,
To them I provide, that with me bide.-
Whoeer they be, that folowe me,
And gladly flee to my standàrde,
They shall be free, nor sicke, nor fee
Adversitie, and paynès harde.
of payne shall he sustayne,
But joy foverayne, while he is here ;
No frost ne rayne there shall distayne
His face by payne, ne hurt his chere.
He shall his hede cast to no drede
To get the medeo and lawde of warre;
yet have nede, for to take hede,
How battayles spede, but ftande afarre.
Nor yet be bounde to care the sounde
Of man or grounde, or trompet fhrill;
Strokes that redound shall not confounde,
Nor his minde wounde, but if he will, &c. All antient satirical writings, even those of an inferior cast, have their merit, and deserve attention, as they tranf