Percy's Reliques - On Thomas Lord Cromwell.

On Thomas Lord Cromwell.

            It is ever the fate of a disgraced minister to be forsaken by his friends, and insulted by his enemies, always reckoning among the latter the giddy inconstant multitude. We have here a spurn at fallen greatness from some angry partisan of declining Popery, who could never forgive the downfall of their Diana, and loss of their craft. The ballad seems to have been composed between the time of Cromwell's commitment to the Tower, June 11, 1540, and that of his being beheaded, July 28 following. A short interval! but Henry's passion for Catharine Howard would admit of no delay. Notwithstanding our libeller, Cromwell had many excellent qualities: his great fault was too much obsequiousness to the arbitrary will of his master; but let it be considered that this master had raised him from obscurity, and that the high-born nobility had shewn him the way in every kind of mean and servile compliance. The original copy printed at London in 1540, is intitled, "A newe ballade made of Thomas Crumwel, called Trolle on away." To it is prefixed this distich by way of burthen,

Trolle on away, trolle on awaye.
Synge heave and howe rombelowe trolle on away.

BOTH man and chylde is glad to here tell
Of that false traytoure Thomas Crumwell,
Now that he is set to learne to spell.
Synge trolle on away.

When fortune lokyd the in thy face,
Thou haddyst fayre tyme, but thou lackydyst grace;
Thy cofers with golde thou fyllydst a pace,
Synge, &c.

Both plate and chalys came to thy fyst,
Thou lockydst them vp where no man wyst,
Tyll in the kynges treasoure such things were myst.
Synge, &c.

Both crust and crumme came thorowe thy handes,
Thy marchaundyse sayled over the sandes,
Therfore nowe thou art layde fast in bandes.
Synge, &c.

Fyrste when Kynge Henry, God saue his grace!
Perceyud myschefe kyndlyd in thy face,
Then it was tyme to purchase the a place.
Synge, &c.

Hys grace was euer of gentyll nature,
Mouyd with petye, and made the hys seruyture;
But thou, as a wretche, suche thinges dyd procure.
Synge, &c.

Thou dyd not remembre, false heretyke,
One God, one fayth, and one kynge catholyke,
For thou hast bene so long a scysmatyke.
Synge, &c.

Thou woldyst not learne to knowe these thre;
But euer was full of iniquite:
Wherfore all this lande hathe ben troubled with the.
Synge, &c.

All they, that were of the new trycke,
Agaynst the churche thou baddest them stycke
Wherfore nowe thou haste touchyd the quycke.
Synge, &c.

Bothe sacramentes and sacramentalles
Thou woldyst not suffre within thy walles;
Nor let vs praye for all chrysten soules.
Synge, &c.

Of what generacyon thou were no tonge can tell,
Whyther of Chayme, or Syschemell,[ 1]
Or else sent vs frome the deuyll of hell.
Synge, &c.

Thou woldest neuer to vertue applye,
But couetyd euer to clymme to hye,
And nowe haste thou trodden thy shoo awrye.
Synge, &c.

Who-so-euer dyd winne thou wolde not lose;
Wherefore all Englande doth hate the, as I suppose,
Bycause thou wast false to the redolent rose.
Synge, &c.

Thou myghtest have learned thy cloth to flocke
Upon thy gresy fullers stocke;[ 2]
Wherfore lay downe thy heade vpon this blocke.
Synge, &c.

Yet saue that soule, that God hath bought,
And for thy carcas care thou nought,
Let it suffre payne, as it hath wrought.
Synge, &c.

God save King Henry with all his power,
And Prynce Edwarde that goodly flowre,
With al hys lordes of great honoure.
Synge trolle on awaye, syng trolle on away.
Hevye and how rombelowe trolle on awaye.

*** The foregoing piece gave rise to a poetic controversy, which was carried on through a succession of seven or eight ballads written for and against Lord Cromwell. These are all preserved in the archives of the Antiquarian Society, in a large folio Collection of Proclamations, &c. made in the reigns of King Henry VIII., King Edward VI., Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, King James I. &c.


1. i.e. Cain, or Ishmael. See below, the note, Book v. no. iii, stanza 3d.

2. Cromwell's father is generally said to have been a blacksmith at Putney: but the author of this ballad would insinuate that either be himself or some of his ancestors were fullers by trade.


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