1. Sometimes written Schelton: and Blomefield says, "That his Name was
2. "John Skelton was a younger branch of the Skeltons of Skelton in this County [
"Ah decus, ah patriae specie pulcherrima dudum!
Urbs Norvicensis," &c.
("Oh splendour, oh most beautiful sight of my country,
Does "patriae" mean his native county?
3. "Having been educated in this university, as Joh. Baleus attests." Wood's Ath. Oxon. i. 50. ed. Bliss. Wood's reference in the note is "In lib. De Scriptoribus Anglicis, MS. inter cod. MSS. Selden, in bib. Bodl. p. 69 b." The printed copy of Bale's work contains no mention of the place of Skelton's education. Part of Bale's information concerning Skelton, as appears from the still extant MS. collections for his Script. Illust. Brit., was received "Ex Guilhelmo Horman," the author of the Vulgaria.—See also Tanner's Biblioth. p. 675. ed. 1748.—Warton says that Skelton "studied in both our universities." Hist. of E.P. ii. 336. ed. 4to.
4. "O Cambridge, parent of my soul, . . . to you I once was a dear foster son."
6. "Wood reckons him of Ox. on the author. of Bale in a MS. in the Bodleian Libr., but with much better reason he may be called ours; for I find one Scheklton M.A. in the year 1484, at which time allowing him to be 24 years of age, he must be at his death A.D. 1529, 68 or 69 years old, which 'tis probable he might be. v. Bale 653." Cole's Collections,—Add. MSS. (Brit. Mus.) 5880, p. 199.
7. I suspect that, during Skelton's lifetime, two of his most celebrated pieces, Colyn Cloute and Why come ye not to court, were not committed to the press, but wandered about in manuscript among hundreds of eager readers. A portion of Speak, Parrot, and the Poems Against Garnesche, are now for the first time printed.
8. No poetical antiquary can read the titles of some of the lighter pieces mentioned in that catalogue,— such as The Ballad of the Mustard Tart, The Mourning of the Maple-root (see Note 183 to The Garland of Laurel)—without regretting their loss. "Many of the songs or popular ballads of this time," observes Sir John Hawkins, "appear to have been written by Skelton." Hist. of Music, iii, 39.
9. See Note 1 to The Death of the Earl of Northumberland.
10. He was only eleven years old at his father's death. See more concerning the fifth earl in Percy's Preface to The Northumberland Household Book, 1770, in Warton's Hist. of E. P. ii. 338. ed. 4to, and in Collins's Peerage, ii. 304. ed. Brydges.—Warton says that the Earl "encouraged Skelton to write this elegy," an assertion grounded, I suppose, on the Latin lines prefixed to it.
11. A splendid MS. volume, consisting of poems (chiefly by Lydgate), finely written on vellum, and richly illuminated, which formerly belonged to the fifth earl, is still preserved in the British Museum, MS. Reg. 18. D ii: at fol. 165 is Skelton's Elegy on the Earl's father.
12. For a notice of Skelton's laureation at
13. This work (a thin folio), translated by Caxton from the French, is a prose romance founded on the Aeneid. It consists of 65 chapters, the first entitled "How the right puissant King Priamus edified the great City of
"William Caxton had no compation
Of Virgil in that book he printed in prose,
Clepand it Virgil in Aeneados,
Quhilk that he says of French he did translate
It has no thing ado therewith, God wot,
Nor no more like than the Devil and Saint Austin," &c.
Sig. B iii. ed. 1553.
14. A work probably never printed, and now lost: it is mentioned by Skelton in the Garland of Laurel;
"Of Tully's Familiars the translation."
Garland of Laurel v. 1185
15. A work mentioned in the same poem;
"Diodorus Siculus of my translation
Out of fresh Latin into our English plain,
Recounting commodities of many a strange nation;
Who readeth it once would read it again;
Six volumes engrossed together it doth contain."
Garland of Laurel v. 1498
It is preserved in Ms. at
16. Sig. A ii.
17. For more about poet laureate, both in the ancient and modem acceptation, see
"Nay, Skelton wore the laurel wreath,
And passed in schools, ye know."
See Notices of Skelton from Various Sources.
18. Hist. of E. P. ii. 130, (note,) ed. 4to.—The second entry was printed in 1736 by the Abbé du Resnel (who received it from Carte the historian,) in Recherches sur les Poètes Couronez,—Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscript. (Mém. de Littérature,) x. 522. Both entries were given in 1767 by Farmer in the second edition of his Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, p. 50.—The Rev. Joseph Romilly, registrar of the
19. Prologue to Egloges, sig. A 1. ed. 1570.
20. Hist. of E. P. ii. 132 (note,) ed. 4to, where Warton gives the subscription of the former as the title of the latter poem: his mistake was occasioned by the reprint of Skelton's Works, 1736.
21. Du Resnel expressly says that he was made acquainted with the
22. A gentleman resident at Louvaine obligingly examined for me the registers of that university, but could find in them no mention of Skelton.
23. The original has "Cum:" but the initial letters of the lines were intended to form a distich; see the conclusion of the poem.
24. Here again the original has "Cum."
25. From the 4to volume entitled Opusculum Roberti Whittintoni in florentissima Oxoniensi achademia Laureati. ("A little work of Robert Whittington Laureate of the most illustrious
26. Henry Bradshaw's Life of Saint Werburgh, 1. ii. c. 24. printed by Pynson 1521, 4to.
27. See the two subscriptions already cited above; and Against Venomous Tongues, A Replication, &c., Speak, Parrot v. 516;—"Clarus & facundus in utroque scribendi genere, prosa atque metro, habebatur." ("He will be famed for writing both clearly and fluently") Bale, Script. Illust. Brit. &c. p. 651. ed. 1559.—"Inter Rhetores regius orator factus." ("Made royal orator among the rhetoricians") Pits, De Illust. Angl. Script. p. 701. ed. 1619. "With regard to the Orator Regius," says Warton, "I find one John Mallard in that office to Henry the eighth, and his epistolary secretary," &c. Hist. of E. P. ii. 132 (note), ed. 4to.
28. Register Hill 1489-1505, belonging to the Diocese of London.
29. 1st Oct.: see Sandford's Geneal. Hist. p. 475. ed. 1707.
30. See the Garland of Laurel, v. 1178.
31. Henry was created Duke of
32. Biblioth. p. 676. ed. 1748.
33. Creancer i.e. tutor: see Note 78 to Poems against Garnesche,—When ladies attempt to write history, they sometimes say odd things: e.g. "It is affirmed that Skelton had been tutor to Henry [viii.] in some department of his education. How probable it is that the corruption imparted by this ribald and ill living wretch laid the foundation for his royal pupil's grossest crimes!" Lives of the Queens of
34. After noticing that while Arthur was yet alive, Henry was destined by his father to be archbishop of
35. Biblioth. p. 676. ed. 1748.
36. "We have for the present dedicated these verses, like a gift of playthings, to your childhood, and shall be ready with more abundant offerings, when your virtues, growing with your age, shall supply more abundant material for poetry. I would add my exhortation to that end, were it not that you are of your own accord already, as they say, under way with all sails set, and have with you Skelton, that incomparable light and ornament of British Letters, who can not only kindle your studies, but bring them to a happy conclusion." (Francis Morgan Nichols.)
37. "Now comes the boy Henry, who rejoices in having his father's name, guided to the sacred springs by the poet Skelton, he has trained himself in the arts of Athena from his tenderest years" (Clarence Miller)—Erasmi Opera, i. 1214, 1216, ed. 1703.—The Ode is appended to Erasmus's Latin version of the Hecuba and Iphigenia in Aulide of Euripides, printed by Aldus in 1507; and in that edition the second line which I have quoted is found with the following variation,
"Monstrante fonteis vate Laurigero sacros."
("guided to the sacred springs by the Laureate")
"It is probable," says Granger, "that if that great and good man [Erasmus] had read and perfectly understood his [Skelton's] 'pithy, pleasant, and profitable works,' as they were lately reprinted, he would have spoken of him in less honourable terms." Biog. Hist. of Engl. i. 102. ed. 1775. The remark is sufficiently foolish: in Skelton's works there are not a few passages which Erasmus, himself a writer of admirable wit, must have relished and admired; and it was not without reason that he and our poet have been classed together as satirists, in the following passage; "By what means could Skelton that laureate poet, or Erasmus that great and learned clerk, have uttered their minds so well at large, as through their cloaks of merry conceits in writing of toys and foolish themes: as Skelton did by Speak Parrot, Ware the hawk, the Tunning of Elynour Rumming, Why come ye not to Court? Philip Sparrow, and such like: yet what greater sense or better matter can be, than is in this ragged rhyme contained? Or who would have heard his fault so plainly told him, if not in such gibing sort? Also Erasmus, under his praise of Folly, what matters hath he touched therein? "&c. The Golden Aphroditis, &c. by John Grange, 1577 (I quote from Censura Liter. vol. i. 382. ed. 1815.)
38. Thomas Morus i.e. Thomas More, then a student of
39. The country-seat of Lord Mountjoy.
40. Probably Eltham.
41. "It was only a three days' task; but a task it was, for I had for some years neither read nor written poetry; and it was extorted from me partly by shame and partly by vexation. I was staying at lord Mountjoy's country house when Thomas More came to see me, and took me out with him for a walk as far as the next village, where all the king's children, except prince Arthur, who was then the eldest son, were being educated. When we came into the hall, the attendants not only of the palace but also of Mountjoy's household were all assembled. In the midst stood prince Henry, then nine years old, and having already something of royalty in his demeanour, in which there was a certain dignity combined with singular courtesy. On his right was Margaret, about eleven years of age, afterwards married to James, king of Scots ; and on his left played Mary, a child of four. Edmund was an infant in arms. More, with his companion Arnold, after paying his respects to the boy Henry, the same that is now king of
42. Lines prefixed to Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works,1568; see Notices of Skelton.
43. "10th June in Westminster John Skelton commited to the prison of the King's jailer" p. 30,—1592, 4to.
44. According to the xivth of the Merry Tales of Skelton he was "long confined in prison at
45. "Johannne Skelton widow from our lord the King—3l. 6s. 8d." By Writ of Privy Seal—Auditor's Calendar of Files from 1485 to 1522, fol. 101 (b.), in the Public Record Office.
46. Ritson (Bibliog. Poet. p.102) says that Skelton was "chaplain to king Henry the eighth:" qy. on what authority?
47. "He . . . was Rector and lived here [at Diss] in 1504 and in 1511, as I find by his being Witness to several Wills in this year. (Note) 1504, The Will of Mary Cowper of Disse, Witnesses Master John Skelton, Laureate, Parson of Disse, &c.' And among the Evidences of Mr. Thomas Coggeshall, I find the House in the Tenure of Master Skelton, Laureat. . . . Mr. Le-Neve says, that his [Skelton's] Institution does not appear in the Books, which is true, for often those that were collated by the Pope, had no Institution from the Bishop, many Instances of which in those Books occur; but it is certain from abundance of Records and Evidences that I have seen, that he was Rector several years." Blomefield's Hist. of
48. See Epitaph for John Clarke and Adam Udersall, who died in 1506; Lamentatio urbis Norvicen., written in 1507, and Chorus de Dis, &c. in 1513.
49. I may notice here, that in an Assessment for a Subsidy, temp. Henry viii., we find, under "Saint Helen's Parish within Bishopsgate,"
"Mr. Skelton in goodes—xl. li."
Books of the Treasury of the Exchequer, B. 4. 15, fol. 7,—Public Record Office. Qy. was this our author?
50. "Cum quibusdam blateronibus fraterculis, praecipue Dominicanis, bellum gerebat continuum. Sub pseudopontifice Nordovicensi Ricardo Nixo, mulierem illam, quam sibi secreto ob Antichristi metum desponsaverat, sub concubine titulo custodiebat. In ultimo tamen vitae articulo super ea re interrogatus, respondit, se nusquam illam in conscientia coram Deo nisi pro uxore legitima tenuisse . . . animam egit . . . relictis liberis." ("With these scandalmongering brothers, particularly the Dominicans, he fought continually. While he was under the authority of Richard Nix,the false-hearted bishop of Norwich, he kept a woman under the guise of a concubine, whom he had however secretly married for fear of the Devil. At the end of his life, when he was asked about her, he replied, that in his conscience and before God he regarded her as his lawful wife . . . (and that) he gave up his soul . . . free of sin") Bale, Script. Illust. Brit. pp. 651, 2. ed. 1559.—"In Monachos praesertim Praedicatores S. Dominici saepe stylum acuit, & terminos praetergressus modestiae, contra eos scommatibus acerbius egit. Quo facto suum exasperavit Episcopum Richardum Nixum, qui habito de vita & moribus eius examine, deprehendit hominem votam Deo castitatem violasse, imo concubinam domi suae diu tenuisse." ("He often sharpened his pen against the monks, especially the Dominicans, and made vicious satires against them, passing the bounds of decency. His works exasperated the Bishop Richard Nix so much that he examined him about his morals and way of living, and condemned him as a man who had broken the vow of chastity, and worse, kept a concubine in his house") Pits, De Illust. Angl. Script. p. 701. ed. 1619.—"The Dominican Friars were the next he contested with, whose viciousness lay pat enough for his hand; but such foul Lubbers fell heavy on all which found fault with them. These instigated Nix, Bishop of Norwich, to call him to account for keeping a Concubine, which cost him (as it seems) a suspension from his benefice . . . We must not forget, how being charged by some on his death-bed for begetting many children on the aforesaid Concubine, he protested, that in his Conscience he kept her in the notion of a wife, though such his cowardliness that he would rather confess adultery (then accounted but a venial) than own marriage, esteemed a capital crime in that age." Fuller's Worthies, p. 257, (Norfolk,) ed. 1662.—Anthony Wood, with his usual want of charity towards the sons of genius, says that Skelton "having been guilty of certain crimes, (as most poets are,) at least not agreeable to his coat, fell under the heavy censure of Rich. Nykke bishop of
51. "Cui [Nixo] utcunque a nive nomen videatur inditum, adeo nihil erat nivei in pectore, luxuriosis cogitationibus plurimum aestuante, ut atro carbone libidines ejus notandae videantur, si vera sunt quae de illo a Nevillo perhibentur." ("Who (Nix) however pure his name might appear to be, there was nothing pure in his heart, raging continually with lustful thoughts, so that if one saw the truthful appearance, it would be coal-black with lustful ideas and lechery.") Godwin De Praesul. Angl. p. 440. ed. 1743.
52. "In the Edition of his Works in 8vo. Lond. 1736, which I have, at p. 272 he mentions Trumpinton, and seems to have been Curate there, 5. Jan. 1507. At p. 54 he also mentions Swafham and Soham, 2 Towns in Cambridgeshire, in The Crown of Laurel." Cole's Collections,—Add. MSS. (Brit. Mus.) 5880, p. 199. To conclude from the mention of these towns that Skelton resided in Cambridgeshire is the height of absurdity, as the reader will immediately perceive on turning to the passage in question, Garland of Laurel, v. 1416,—Chalmers, on the authority of a MS. note by Kennet, a transcript of which had been sent to him, states that "in 1512, Skelton was presented by Richard, abbot of
53. The old ed. has "scripter."
54. "Written by Skelton, rector of Diss. The end, &c. Transcribed in Trumpington by the curate of that place on the fifth of January 1507, (according to English reckoning)."
55. "I have sent you these little pages that I want you to copy out, which are what they know I have written."
56. Ath. Oxon. i. 50. ed. Bliss.
57. Where see also the extracts from A c. (100) Merry Tales, &c.—The biographer of Skelton, in Eminent Lit. and Scient. Men of Great Britain, &c. (Lardner's Cyclop.), asserts that "he composed his Merry Tales for the king and nobles"!! 1. 279.
58. Lines prefixed to Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568; see Notices of Skelton
59. "Sith ye have me challenged, M[aster] Garnesche," Poems Against Garnesche v. 1
60. In the Notes on the poems Against Garnesche I have cited several parallel expressions from The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy. That curious production may be found in the valuable edition of
61. At a later period there was a poetical "flyting" between Churchyard and a person named Camel, who had attacked a publication of the former called Davie Dicar's Dream; and some other writers took a part in the controversy: these rare pieces (known only by their titles to Ritson, Bibliog. Poet. p. 151, and to Chalmers, Life of Churchyard, p. 53) are very dull and pointless, but were evidently put forth in earnest.
62. In the first poem Against Garnesche he is called "Master:" but see Note 7 to that poem.
63. Hall's Chron. (vi. year Hen. viii.) fol. xlviii. ed. 1548.
64. MS. Cott.. Calig. B. vi. fol. 112.
65. Auditor's Calendar of Files from 1485 to 1522, fol. 108 (b).
66. Privy Purse Accounts, A. 5. 16. p. 21.
67. "To Christopher Garnesche one of the King's gentlemen-ushers as an annuity during the kings pleasure per year—10l.
To the same Christopher for his faithfulness 20l. per year until the end of his life—20l." Auditor's Calendar, &c. fol. 162 (b).
68. Auditor's Patent Book, No. 1. fol. 6 (b).
69. In an account of the visit of the Emperor Charles the Fifth to
70. Privy Purse Accounts, A. 5, 17. p. 175.
71. "Christopher Garnesche, soldier, for his annuity of 30l. on the feast of St. Michael last; viz. for one whole year by the hand of Richard Allen."Teller's Book, A. 8. 24. p. 293.5
72. To these notices of Garnesche I may add the following letter, the original of which is in the possession of Mr. J. P. Collier:
"Please it your grace, we have received the King's most gracious letters dated at his manor of Greenwich the xth day of April, whereby we perceive his high pleasure is that we should take some substantial direction for the preparation and furnishing of all manner of victuals as well for man as for horse, to be had in readiness against the coming of his grace, his nobles with their train; Like it your grace, so it is we have not been in times past so greatly and sore destitute this many years past of all manner of victuals both for man and beast as we be now, not only by reason of a great murrain of cattle which hath been in these parts, but also for that the King's takers, lying about the borders of the sea coast next adjoining unto us, have taken and made provision thereof contrary to the old ordinance, so that we be utterly destitute by reason of the same, and can in no wise make any substantial provision for his highness nor his train in these parts, for all the butchers in this town have not substance of beefs and muttons to serve us, as we be accompanied at this day, for the space of iii. weeks at the most. And also as now there is not within this town of Calais fuel sufficient to serve us one whole week, the which is the great danger and unsurety of this the King's town. Wherefore we most humbly beseech your grace, the premises considered, that we by your gracious and favorable help may have not only remedy for our beefs and muttons with other victuals, but also that all manner of victuallers of this town may repair and resort with their ships from time to time to make their purveyance of all manner of fuel from henceforth for this town only, without any let or interruption of the King's officers or takers, any commandment heretofore given to the contrary not withstanding, for without that both the King's Highness, your grace, and all this town shall be utterly disappointed and deceived both of victuals and fuel, which God defend. At
By your servants,
To my Lord cardinal's grace, Legate a Latere and chancellor of
In Proceed. and Ordin. of the Privy Council (vol. vii. 183, 196), 1541, mention is made of a Lady Garnesche (probably the widow of Sir Christopher) having had a house at Calais; and in Privy Purse Expenses of the Princess Mary (p. 120) we find under June 1543, "Item my Lady Garnesche servant for bringing cherries xiid."
73. "Contra Skeltonum, Lib. i." Script. Illust. Brit. p. 723. ed. 1559.
74. fol 259. ed. 1570.
75. See Note 5 to The Tunning of Elynour Rumming. If this line alludes to Skelton, it preserves a trait of his personal appearance.
76. 4 sig. c. v. ed. 1570.
77. In a volume of various pieces by Gaguin, dated 1498, is a treatise on metre, which shews no mean acquaintance with the subject.
78. "Invectivam in Guil. Lilium, Lib. i." Script. Illust. Brit. &c. p. 652. ed. 1559. The reader must not suppose from the description, "Lib. i.," that the invective in question extended to a volume: it was, I presume, no more than a copy of verses. Wood mentions that this piece was "written in verse and very carping." Ath. Ox. i. 52. ed. Bliss: but most probably he was acquainted with it only through Bale. He also informs us (i. 34) that Lily wrote a tract entitled "Apologia ad Joh. Skeltonum, Rob. Whittington." for a copy of which I have sought in vain.
79. "I am compelled to strike against you, Lilly"
80. See Weever's Fun. Monum. p. 498. ed.1631; Stowe's Collections, MS. Harl. 540. fol. 57; and Fuller's Worthies, (
"With face so bold, and teeth so sharp,
Of viper's venom, why dost carp?
Why are my verses by thee weigh'd
In a false scale? may truth be said?
Whilst thou to get the more esteem
A learned Poet fain wouldst seem,
Skelton, thou art, let all men know it,
Neither learned, nor a Poet."
81. See Note 151 to The Garlansd of Laurel.
82. It was granted to him by the king for life.
83. Concerning this college, see Note 212 to The Garland of Laurel.
84. "To the most honourable, most mighty, and by far the most reverend father in Christ and in the Lord, Lord Thomas, etc., of the title of the sacred Cecilian, presbyter of the Holy Roman Church, the most deserving cardinal, Legate of the Apostolic See, and the most illustrious legate a latere, etc., Skelton Laureate, ora. reg., declares humble allegiance with all fit reverence due to such a great and magnificent Chief of Priests, most equitable moderator of all justice, and moreover the most excellent patron of the present little book, etc., at whose most auspicious contemplation, under the memorable seal of a glorious immortality, the present little treatise is commended [or devised]."(PH)—A Replication against certain young scholars abjured of late, &c. vol. 1.230. In Typograph. Antiq. ii. 539. ed. Dibdin, where the Replication is described and quoted from Heber's copy, we are told that it has "a Latin address to Thomas — who [sic] he [ Skelton] calls an excellent patron," &c. That the editor should have read the address without discovering that the said Thomas was Cardinal Wolsey, is truly marvellous.
85. "To His Most Serene Royal Majesty, together with the Lord Cardinal, the most honourable Legate a latere &c."
86. "Go, book, fall before the great King Henry VIII and worship him, re-echoing his glories. Greet likewise, with reverence, the great Cardinal, legate a Latere, and may he be mindful to sue for the prebend which he promised to entrust to me some day, and give me grounds to hope for his protection—between hope and fear." (PH).
87. "I trust entirely in his good graces" (PH).
88. Animadversions upon the annotations and corrections of some imperfections of impressions of Chaucer's Works, &c. p. 13, in Todd's Illust. of Gower and Chaucer. I may notice here, that among the Harleian MSS. (2252, fols. 156, 158) are two poems on the Cardinal, which in the Catalogue of that collection Wanley has described as "Skelton's libels; "but they are evidently not by him.
89. Wolsey had previously been named a Cardinal in 1515.—Fiddes (Life of Wolsey, p. 99. ed. 1726) says that he became Legate a latere in 1516: but see State Papers (1830,) i. 9 (note.) Lingard's Hist. of Engl. vi. 57. ed. 8vo, &c.—Hoping to ascertain the exact date of the Replication, &c. (which contains the first of the passages now under consideration,) I have consulted various books for some mention of the "young heretics" against whom that piece was written; but without success. [These were Thomas Bilney and Thomas Arthur,
90. We cannot settle this point by a comparison of old editions, the poem against Albany and the two L'Envoys which follow it being extant only in the ed. of Marshe.—It may be doubted, too, if the L'Envoy which I have cited at above "Perge, liber," &c. belongs to the Garland of Laurel, to which it is affixed in Marshe's edition as a second L'Envoy: in Faukes's edition of that poem, which I conceive to be the first that was printed, it is not found: the Cott. MS. of the
91. Chron. (Hen. viii.) fol. cx. ed. 1548.
93. John Islip was elected abbot in 1500, and died in 1532; see Widmore's Hist. of West. Abbey, 119, 123. "John Skelton .... is said by the late learned Bishop of Derry, Nicholson (Hist. Lib. chap. 2.) to have first collected the Epitaphs of our Kings, Princes, and Nobles, that lie buried at the Abbey Church of Westminster: but I apprehend this to be no otherwise true, than that, when he, to avoid the anger of Cardinal Wolsey, had taken sanctuary at Westminster, to recommend himself to Islip, the Abbot at that time, he made some copies of verses to the memories of King Henry the Seventh and his Queen, and his mother the Countess of Richmond, and perhaps some other persons buried in this church." Account of Writers, &c. p. 5, appended to Widmore's Enquiry into the time of the found. of West. Abbey.—-Widmore is mistaken: neither in Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works, 1568, nor in the Reges, Reginae, Nobiles, &c., 1603, is there any copy of verses by our author on the Queen of Henry the Seventh.
94. "De morte Cardinalis vaticinium edidit: & eius veritatem eventus declaravit." (He prophesied the death of the cardinal, and the truth of this was shown by events")—Bale, Script. Illust. Brit. p. 652. ed. 1559.—"The word Vates being Poet or Prophet, minds me of this dying Skelton's prediction, foretelling the ruin of Cardinal Wolsey. Surely, one unskilled in prophecies, if well versed in Solomon's Proverbs, might have prognosticated as much, that Pride goeth before a fall." Fuller's Worthies, (
95. "Vuestmonasterii tandem, captivitatis sua; tempore, mortuus est: & in D. Margaritae sacello sepultus, cum hac inscriptione alabastrica: Johannes Skeltonus, vates Pierius, hic situs est. Animam egit 21 die Junii, anno Domini 1529, relictis liberis." (For a long time imprisoned at
In the Church-Wardens' Accompts of St. Margaret's,
l. s d
"1529. Item, of Mr. Skelton for viii tapers . . 0 2 8"
The institution of the person who succeeded Skelton as rector of Diss is dated 17th July: See Note 1 above
96. e. g. the portrait on the title-page of Diverse Ballads and Ditties Salacious (evidently from the press of Pynson;) is given as a portrait of "Doctor Boorde" in the Book of Knowledge (see reprint, sig. I); and (as Mr. F. R. Atkinson of Manchester obligingly informed me by letter some years ago) the strange fantastic figure on the reverse of the title-page of Faukes's ed. of the Garland of Laurel, 1523 (poorly imitated in The Brit. Bibliogr. iv. 389) is a copy of an early French print.
97. "Warton has undervalued him [Skelton]; which is the more remarkable, because Warton was a generous as well as a competent critic. He seems to have been disgusted with buffooneries, which, like those of Rabelais, were thrown out as a tub for the whale; for unless Skelton had written thus for the coarsest palates, he could not have poured forth his bitter and undaunted satire in such perilous times." Southey, Select Works of Brit. Poets, (1831,} p. 61.
98. Amen. of Lit. ii. 69.
99. Satire should, like a polish'd razor, keen,
Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen:
Thine is an oyster-knife that hacks and hews," &c.
Verses addressed to the imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace (the joint composition of Lord Hervey and Lady M. W. Montagu.)
100. Remains, ii. 163.
101. "Of Virtue also the sovereign interlude." Garland of Laurel, v. 1177
102. "His comedy, Achademios called by name." Garland of Laurel, v. 1184
103. See Notices of Skelton (last item)—Mr. Collier is mistaken in supposing Skelton's "pageants that were played in Joyous Garde "to have been dramatic compositions: see Note 185 to The Garland of Laurel
104. A writer, of whose stupendous ignorance a specimen has been already cited (See Note 57 above) informs us that Magnificence "is one of the dullest plays in our language." Eminent Lit. and Scient. Men of
105. Amen. of Lit. ii. 69.
106. Hist. of E. P. ii. 356.
107. "In heaven bliss ye shall win to be
Among the blessed company omnium supernorum ("All that are in heaven")
There as is all mirth joy and glee
Inter agmina angelorum ("among the host of angels")
In bliss to abide."
A reprint of Marshe's ed. of Skelton's Works having appeared in 1736, Pope took occasion, during the next year, to mention them in the following terms,—casting a blight on our poet's reputation, from which it has hardly yet recovered;
"Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
And beastly Skelton Heads of Houses quote"
Note—"Skelton, Poet Laureate to Hen. 8. a Volume of whose, Verses has been lately reprinted, consisting almost wholly of Ribaldry, Obscenity, and Billingsgate Language." The First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace imitated, 1737. But Pope was unjust to Skelton; for, though expressions of decided grossness occur in his writings, they are comparatively few; and during his own time, so far were such expressions from being regarded as offensive to decency, that in all probability his royal pupil would not have scrupled to employ them in the presence of Anne Boleyn and her maids of honour.