John Skelton - NOTES TO THE BOWGE OF COURT.

NOTES TO THE BOWGE OF COURT.

1. "It is a bowge of court. Ceremonia aulica est." Hormanni Vulgaria, sig. s iii. ed. 1530. "Bouche à Court. Budge-a-Court, diet allowed at Court." Cotgrave's Dict. "The Kings Archers . . ., had Bouch of Court (to wit, Meat and Drink) and great Wages of six Pence by the Day." Stow's Survey, B. vi. 49. ed. 1720. [Probably from old French, bouge, kitchen.] "The poem called the BOUGE OF COURT, or the Rewards of a Court, is in the manner of a pageant, consisting of seven personifications. Here our author, in adopting the more grave and stately movement of the seven lined stanza, has shown himself not always incapable of exhibiting allegorical imagery with spirit and dignity. But his comic vein predominates." Warton's Hist. of E. P., ii. 347. ed. 4to.

"Bouge of Court, a corruption of bouche, Fr. An allowance of meat and drink for the tables of the inferior officers, and others who were occasionally called to serve and entertain the court. Skelton has a kind of little drama called Bouge of Court, from the name of the ship in which the dialogue takes place. It is a very severe satire, full of strong painting, and, excellent poetry. The courtiers of Harry must have winced at it." Gifford, note on Ben Jonson's Works, vii. 428.

2. sore enwearied]— enwearied means simply—wearied. Richardson (Dict. in v. En) observes that "Skelton appears to have wantoned in such compounds."

3. Methought I saw a ship, goodly of sail,
Come sailing forth into the haven broad,
Her tackling rich and of high appareil
] Of this passage Mr. Wordsworth has a recollection in one of his noble Sonnets;

"A goodly Vessel did I then espy
Come like a giant from a haven broad;
And lustily along the bay she strode,
Her tackling rich, and of apparel high."
Works, iii. 34. ed. 1836.

4. I put myself in press] i.e. I joined the throng.

5. Gardez le fortune, qui est mauvais et bon!] "Beware of Fortune, which is both bad and good!"

6. travis] Means here a sort of low curtain or screen —Hall, describing the preparations for combat between the Dukes of Hereford and Norfolk, tells us that the former, having entered the lists, "sat him down in a chair of green velvet which was set in a travis of green and blew velvet," &c.; and that the latter "sat down in his chair which was Crimson Velvet, curtained about with white and red Damask." Chron. (Henry IV. ) fol. iii. ed. 1548.—At a later period, curtains, which were used on the stage as substitutes for scenes, were called traverses. See also Singer's note on Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, p. 167. ed. 1827, and Sir H. Nicolas's note on Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, p. 259.

7. she trowed that I had eaten sauce] Compare our author's Magnificence:

Ye have eaten sauce, I trow, at the Taylors Hall."
v. 1421.

8. I advise you to speak, for any dread] i.e. I advise you to speak, notwithstanding any dread you may feel.

9. not worth a bean] Bean is frequently used by our early poets to express any thing worthless:

"I give not of her harm a bean."
Chaucer's Rom. of the Rose,— Works, fol. 137. ed. 1602
.

10. Harvy Hafter] Hafter i.e. sharper, cheat. Eds., have "Harvy Haster;" and in the fourth of Skelton's Poems against Garnesche, v. 164 the MS. gives the name with the same error. Compare our author's Why come ye not to Court;

"Havell and Harvy Hafter."
v. 94

and his Magnificence;

"Now, benedicite, ye ween I were some hafter."
v. 259

"Crafting and hafting contrived is by me."
v. 707.

"For to use such hafting and crafty ways."
v. 1698

"And from crafters and hafters I you forfend."
v. 2485

 

11. Dainty to have with us such one in store] Dainty means often—pleasant, "nice." But both in the present passage, and in a subsequent stanza of the same poem—

"Trowest thou, drevil, I say, thou gaudy knave,
That I have dainty to see thee cherished thus?"
v. 337

Dainty seems to be equivalent to—pleasure: compare

Because that he hath joy and great dainty
To read in books of old antiquity."
Lydgate's Wars of Troy (Prologue), sig. B i. ed. 1555.

"Adieu, dolour, adieu! my dainty now begins."
Dunbar's tale of The Two Married Women and the Widow,—Poems, i. 76. ed. Laing.

12. cockwats] Compare our author's third copy of verses Against venomous tongues;

"Than ye may command me to gentle cockwat."
v. 15

and his Magnificence;

"What canst thou do but play cockwat "
v. 1206.

Is cockwat only another form of cockward, i.e. cuckold? See Arthur and the King of Cornwall, p. 279, Sir Gawayne, &c., edited by Sir F. Madden.

13. reboke] i.e. belch, cast up.

"As grunting and drinking, reboking up again."
Barclay's Ship of Fools, fol. 229. ed. 1570.

14. all and some] Another expression frequently used by our early poets. "All and some: Tout entierement." Palsgrave, p. 847.

15. light as lind] So in Annunciacio;

"A, what, I am light as lind!"
Towneley Myst. p. 80.

and in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale;

"Be aye of cheer as light as leaf on lind."
v. 9087. ed. Tyr.

Lind is the linden or lime-tree.

16. a versing box] Does it mean—a dice-box?

17. Sith I am nothing plain] the commencement of some song.

18. Heave and how rumbelow] A chorus of high antiquity, (sung chiefly, it would seem, by sailors):

"They spread their sails as void of sorrow,
Forth they rowed, saint George to borrow,
For joy their trumpets did they blow,
And some sung heave and how rumbelow."
Cock Lorelles boat, sig. C 1.

"They rowed hard, and sung thereto,
With heavelow and rumbeloo."
Richard Coeur de Lion,—Weber's Met. Rom. ii. 99.

"Maidens of England sore may ye mourn
For your
lemans ye have lost at Bannock's burn,
With heave a low.
What weeneth the king of England
So soon to have won Scotland,
With rumbelow."
Scottish Song on the Battle of Bannockburn,—Fabyan's Chron., vol. fol.169. ed. 1559.

"Your mariners shall sing a-row
Hey how and rumby low."
The Squire of Low Degree,—Ritson's Met. Rom. iii. 179.

"I saw three ladies fair, singing hey and how,
Upon yon ley land, hey:
I saw three mariners, singing rumbelow,

Upon yon sea-strand, hey."
Song quoted ibid., iii. 353.

19. row the boat, Norman, row] A fragment of an old song, the origin of which is thus recorded by Fabyan: "In this. xxxii. year [of King Henry the Sixth] Jhon Norman foresaid, upon the morrow of Simon and Jude's day, th'accustomed day when the new Mayor used yearly to ride with great pomp unto Westminster to take his charge, this Mayor first of all Mayors broke that ancient and old continued custom, and was rowed thither by water, for the which ye Watermen made of him a roundel or song to his great praise, the which began: Row the boat, Norman, row to thy leman, and so forth with a long process." Chron. vol. ii. fol. 457. ed. 1559.

20. Princess of youth can ye sing by rote?] The meaning of this line seems to be—Can you sing by rote the song beginning, Princess of youth? Skelton, in his Garland of Laurel, calls Lady Anne Dakers

"Princess of youth, and flower of goodly port."
v. 897

21. Or shall I sail with you a fellowship assay] i.e., I suppose,—Or try, of good fellowship, (or, perhaps, together with me,) the song which commences Shall I sail with you?

"Now, of good fellowship, let me by thy dog."
Magnificence, v. 1095.

"Ing. But if thou wilt have a song that is good,
I have one of Robin Hood,
The best that ever was made.
Hu. Then a fellowship let us hear it."
Interlude of the iiii Elements, n. d. Sig. E vii.

22. bob me on the noll] i.e. beat me on the head.

23. But I require you no word that I say] i.e. But I beg you not to mention a word of what I say.

24. evil payed] i.e. ill satisfied, ill pleased.

25. Dawes] Equivalent to—simpleton; the daw being reckoned a silly bird: so again, in the next line but one, "doctor Dawcocke."

26. And so outface him with a card of ten] "A common phrase," says Nares, "which we may suppose to have been derived from some game, (possibly primero), wherein the standing boldly upon a ten was often successful. A card of ten meant a tenth card, a ten . . . I conceive the force of the phrase to have expressed originally the confidence or impudence of one who with a ten, as at brag, faced, or outfaced one who had really a faced card against him. To face meant, as it still does, to bully, to attack by impudence of face." Gloss. in v. Face it, &c. "The phrase of a card of ten was possibly derived, by a jocular allusion, from that of a hart of ten, in hunting, which meant a full grown deer, one past six years of age." Ibid. in v. Card of ten.

27. such masters to play] i.e. to play such pranks of assumed superiority. See Jamieson's Et. Dict. of Scot. Lang. in v. Maistryss.

28. I am of countenance] i.e. perhaps, I am a person of' credit, good means, consequence. (see Gifford's note on B. Jonson's Works, ii. 111).

29. Riot] The picture of Riot in the present passage and in v. 379 sqq. gave birth no doubt to the following lines in a poem called Sirs spare your good;

"No, by my faith, he said incontinent,
But by saint Thomas of Kent
I would have at the hazard a cast or two,
For to learn to caste the dice to and fro;
And if here be any body that will for money play,
I have yet in my purse money and pledges gay:
Some be nobles, some be crowns of France;
Have at all who will of this dance.
One of them answered with that word,
And cast a bale of dice on the board," &c.

I quote from Brit. Bibliog. ii. 371, where are extracts from an ed. of the poem printed by Kytson, n. d.: it originally appeared from the press of W. de Worde; see Cens. Liter. i. 55. sec. ed.

30. bones] i.e. dice.

31. Quater trey deuce] "Four three two" – a dice throw.

32. by saint Thomas of Kent] i.e. by Saint Thomas à Becket:

"Thought I, By saint Thomas of Kent," &c.
Chaucer's House of Fame,—Works, fol. 267. ed. 1602.

33. His hair was grown through out his hat] Compare Barclay's Argument of the first Egloge;

"At divers holes his hair grew through his hood."
Sig. A i. ed. 1570.

and Heywood's Dialogue;

"There is a nest of chickens which he doth brood
That will sure make his hair grow through his hood."
Sig. G 2.,—Wordes, ed. 1598.

Ray gives, "His hair grows through his hood. He is very poor, his hood is full of holes." Proverbs, p. 57. ed. 1768.

324 how he disguised was] i.e. what a wretched plight he was in:

"Ragged and torn, disguised in array."
Chaucer's Court of Love, fol. 329,—Works, ed. 1602.

35. he went so all for summer light] Compare;

"It seemed that he caried litle array,
All light for summer rode this worthy man."
Chaucer's Canon's Yoeman's Prol. v. 16035. ed. Tyr.

See too Bale's King Johan, p. 34. ed. Camd. Soc.; and our author's Philip Sparrow, v. 719.

36. His hose was garded with a list of green] i.e. his breeches were faced, trimmed with a border of green cloth, &c. "There was an affectation of smartness in the trimming of his hose." Warton, note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 348. ed. 4to.

37. Of Kirkby Kendal was his short demi] Kendal, or Kirkby in Kendal, was early famous for the manufacture of cloth of various colours, particularly green. Here the word "Kendal" seems equivalent to—green: so too in Hall's Chronicle, where we are told that Henry the Eighth, with a party of noblemen, "came suddenly in a morning into the Queen's Chamber, all apparelled in short coats of Kentish Kendal ... like outlaws, or Robyn Hood's men." (Henry viii.) fol. vi. ed. 1548.—demi; i.e., says Warton, note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 348. ed. 4to., "doublet, jacket:" rather, I believe, some sort of close vest, his "coat" having been mentioned in the preceding line.

38. In faith, deacon thou crew] The commencement of some song; quoted again by our author in Epitaph for John Clarke and Adam Udersall, v. 44. and in Why come ye not to Court, v. 63

39. he wore his gear so nigh] i.e., I suppose, he wore his clothes so near, so thoroughly. But Warton explains it "his coat-sleeve was so short." Note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 348. ed. 4to.

40. — his pouche,
The devil might dance therein for any crouch
] —any crouch, i.e. any piece of money,—many coins being marked with a cross on one side. "The devil might dance in his purse without meeting with a single sixpence." Warton, note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 348. ed. 4to. So in Massinger's Bashful Lover;

"The devil sleeps in my pocket; I have no cross
To drive him from it
."
Works (by Gifford), iv. 398. ed. 1813.

41. Counter he could O lux upon a pot]— i.e. he could sing O lux, playing an accompaniment to his voice on a drinking pot. To counter is properly—to sing an extemporaneous part upon the plain chant. Skelton uses the word in other places, and perhaps not always in its strict sense. O lux beata Trinitas ("O blessed light of the Trinity") was an ancient hymn, "which," says Hawkins, "seems to have been a very popular melody before the time of King Henry viii," Hist. of Music, ii. 354. In a comedy by the Duke of Newcastle is a somewhat similar passage: "I danced a Jig, while Tom Brutish whistled and play'd upon the head of a pint pot." The Humorous Lovers, 1677, act i. sc. 1. p. 5.

42. What, revel rout] Here, as below, "rout" is a verb—What, let revel roar! Compare;

"And ever be merry, let revel rout."
A Morality,—Anc. Mysteries from the Digby MSS. p. 187. ed. Abbotsf. Page 53. v. 370.

43. clicket] i.e. latch. "Cliquetus, pessulus versatilis;" French, Loquet; from Clingere—clinch. See Ducange, in v. In Chaucer's Merchant's Tale, v . 9991. ed. Tyr., "clicket" means a latch-key.

44. in the devil's date] An exclamation several times used by Skelton.—In Piers Plowman, a charter, which is read at the proposed marriage of Mode, is sealed "in the date of the devil," sig. C i. ed. 1561.

45. Pluck up thine heart upon a merry pin] The expression occurs often in our early poetry; and is found even in one of Wycherley's comedies.

46. And let us laugh a pluck or twain at nale] "Pluck" — compare Thersytes, n. d.

"Darest thou try masteries with me a pluck."
p. 60. Rox. ed.

and a song quoted in Note 56 to Magnificence

"A stoup of beer up at a pluck."

at nale, (atten ale, at then ale; see Price's note, Warton's Hist. of E. P. ii. 501. ed. 1824), i.e. at the ale house.

47. A bridling cast] Usually, a parting drink, "One for the road." It occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady;

"Let's have a bridling cast before you go.
Fill's a new stoup."
act ii. sc. 2.

48. the dozen brown] Is used sometimes to signify thirteen; as in a rare piece entitled A Brown Dozen of Drunkards, &c., 1648. 4to., who are thirteen in number. But in our text "the dozen brown" seems merely to mean the full dozen: so in a tract (Letter from a Spy at Oxford) cited by Grey in his notes on Hudibras, vol. ii. 375; "and this was the twelfth Conquest, which made up the Conqueror's brown Dozen in Number, compared to the twelve Labours of Hercules."

49. pass] Seems here to be equivalent to—stake; but I have not found pass used with that meaning in any works on gaming. See The Compleat Gamester, p. 119. ed. 1680.

50. agrise] For the readings in all the eds. "aryse" I have ventured to substitute "agryse", cause to suffer. Compare;

"Sore might her agrise."
Arthur and Merlin, p. 34. ed. Abbotsf.

" Of his sweven sore him agrose."
Marie Maudelein, p. 226,—Turnbull's Legendae Catholicae (from the Auchinleck MS.).

"The king's heart of pity gan agrise."
Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale, v. 5034. ed. Tyr.

"Such pains, that your hearts might agrise."
Chaucer's Friar's Tale, v. 7231. ed. Tyr.

51. Then in his hood &c.] This passage is quoted by Warton, who observes, "There is also merit in the delineation of DISSIMULATION . . . and it is not unlike Ariosto's manner in imagining these allegorical personages." Hist. of E. P. ii. 349. ed. 4to.

52. to prove a daw] i.e. to prove, try a simpleton: see Note 25 above.—Warton, who gives the other reading, "to prey a daw," explains it—to catch a silly bird. Note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 349. ed. 4to.

53. a stopping oyster] Compare Heywood;

"Herewithall his wife to make up my mouth,
Not only her husband's taunting tale avoweth,
But thereto deviseth to cast in my teeth
Checks and choking oysters."
Dialogue, sig. E,—Works, ed. 1598.

54. round] i.e. whisper,—or, rather, mutter, for Skelton (Garland of Laurel, v. 250) and other poets make a distinction between whisper and round:

"Me list not now whisper neither round."
Lydgate's Story of Thebes, Pars Prima, sig. b vii. ed. 4to. n. d.

"Whisper and round things imagined falsely."
Barclay's Ship of Fools, fol. 208. ed. 1570

"They're here with me already, whispering, rounding."
Shakespeare's Winter's Tale, act i. sc. 2.

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