1. PHILIP SPARROW must have been written before the end of 1508; for it is mentioned with contempt in the concluding lines of Barclay's Ship of Fools, which was finished in that year: see Some Account of Skelton and his Writings.
The Luctus in morte Passeris of Catullus no doubt suggested the present production to Skelton, who, when he calls on "all manner of birds" (v. 387) to join in lamenting Philip Sparrow, seems also to have had an eye to Ovid's elegy In mortem Psittaci, Amor. ii. 6. Another piece of the kind is extant among the compositions of antiquity,—the Psittacus Atedii Melioris of Statius, Silv. ii. 4. In the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Socraticae Joco-seriae, &c., of Dornavius, i. 460 sqq. may be found various Latin poems on the deaths, &c. of sparrows by writers posterior to the time of Skelton. See too Herrick's lines Upon the death of his Sparrow, an Elegy, Hesperides, 1648. p. 117; and the verses entitled Phyllis on the death of her Sparrow, attributed to Drummond, Works, 1711. p. 50. "Old Skelton's 'Philip Sparrow,' an exquisite and original poem." Coleridge's Remains, ii. 163. Page 61.
. . . .
Dilexi] "I will please . . . . I am well pleased". These, and many other Latin phrases in the poem, are taken from the Service for the Dead. See Glen Gunnhouse's Hypertext Book of Hours at http://www.medievalist.net/hourstxt/deadves.htm. Skelton is not the only writer that has taken liberties with the Catholic liturgy. In Chaucer's Court of Love, parts of it are sung by various birds; Domine, labia by the nightingale, Venite by the eagle, &c., Works, fol. 333. ed. 1602: in a short poem by Lydgate "diverse fowls" are introduced singing different hymns. MS. Harl. 2251. fol. 37: and see too a poem (attributed, without any authority, to Skelton) called Harmony of Birds, n. d., reprinted (inaccurately) in Typog. Antiq. iv. 380. ed. Dibdin; and Sir D. Lyndsay's Complaint of the Papingo, Works, i. 325. ed. Chalmers. In Reynard the Fox, we are told that at the burial of "coppe, chantecleer's daughter,"—"Then began they placebo domino, with the verses that belongen," &c. Sig. a 8. ed. 1481. Compare also the mock Requiem printed (somewhat incorrectly) from MS. Cott. Vesp. B. 16. in Ritson's Ancient Songs, i. 118. ed. 1829; Dunbar's Dirige to the King at
"Placebo. Bo. Bo. Bo. Bo. Bo.
Heu me, beware the bug, out quod Bonner alas,
De profundis clamavi, how is this matter come to pass.
Laevavi oculos meos from a dark deep place," &c.
sig. A viii.
(Placebo Domine –I will please the Lord"
Heu me–"Woe is me"
De profundis clamavi–"I have cried out from the depths"
Laevavi oculos meos–"I have raised my eyes")
Other pieces of the kind might be pointed out.
3. Philip Sparrow] Philip, or Phip, was a familiar name given to a sparrow from its note being supposed to resemble that sound.
4. Carrow] A nunnery in the suburbs of
This nunnery was during many ages a place of education for the young ladies of the chief families in the diocese of
See more concerning Carow in Dugdale's Monast. (new ed.) iv. 68 sqq., and Blomefield's Hist. of Nor folk, ii. 862 sqq. ed. fol.
5. Nuns Black] i.e. Black Nuns,—Benedictines.
6. The tears down hailed] So Hawes;
"That evermore the salt tears down hailed."
The Pastime of pleasure, sig. Q viii. ed. 1555.
7. Gib our cat] Gib, a contraction of Gilbert, was a name formerly given to a male cat:
Gib our Cat,
That awaiteth Mice and Rats to killen."
Romaunt of the Rose,—Chaucer's Works, fol. 136. ed. 1602.
8. Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi] "When I was in tribulation I cried to our Lord" G. Gunhouse.
9. Acherontes' well] i.e. Acheron's well. So,—after the fashion of our early poets,—Skelton writes Zenophontes for Xenophon, Eneidos for Eneis, Achilliedos for Achilleis, &c.
10. outray] i.e. vanquish, overcome: and so in the following passages.
"Whom Hercules most strong and courageous,
Sometime outrayed, and slew him with his hand."
Lydgate's Fall of Princes, B. i. leaf xxvii. ed. Wayland.
"All be that Croesus fought long in his defence,
He finally by Cyrus was outrayed,
And deprived by knightly violence,
Take in the field," &c.
Ibid. B. ii. leaf lviii.
"But it may fall, a dwarf in his right,
To outray a giant for all his great might."
Ibid. B. iii. leaf lxvii.
11. Levavi oculos meos in montes] "I have lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains" G. Gunhouse.
12. Zenophontes] i.e. Xenophon: see note 9 above.
13. For to keep his cut,
With, Philip, keep your cut!] Compare Sir Philip Sidney in a sonnet;
"Good brother Philip, I have borne you long,
I was content you should in favour creep,
While craftily you seem'd your cut to keep,
As though that fair soft hand did you great wrong."
Astrophel and Stella, p. 548. ed. 1613.
Brome in The Northern Lass, 1632;
"A bonny bonny Bird I had
A bird that was my Marrow:
A bird whose pastime made me glad,
And Philip 'twas my Sparrow.
A pretty Playfere: Chirp it would,
And hop, and fly to fist,
Keep cut, as 'twere a Usurers Gold,
And bill me when I list."
Act iii. sc. 2. sig. G 2.
and in The New Academy; "But look how she turns and keeps cut like my Sparrow. She will be my back Sweet-heart still I see, and love me behind." Act iv. sc. 1. p. 72. (Five New Plays, 1659).
14. Between my breasts soft
It would lie and rest] So Catullus, in the beginning of his verses Ad Passerem Lesbiae, (a distinct poem from that mentioned above);
"Passer, delicae meae puellae,
Quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere," &c.
(Sparrow, my girl's delight,
With which she plays, which she holds to her bosom")
15. Sin in i qui ta tes.] "Without evil"
16. De pro fun dis cla ma vi] "I cried out from the depths"
17. Sulpicia] Lived in the age of Domitian. Her satire De corrupto statu reipub. temporibus Domitiani, praesertim cum edicto Philosophos urbe exegisset, ("Of the corrupt condition of the state in the time of Domitian, especially as shown by the decree expelling philosophers from the City") may be found in Wernsdorf's ed. of Poetae Latini Minores, iii. 83.
18. Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo] "I will confess to thee O Lord in my whole heart:" G. Gunhouse.
19. ride and go] A sort of pleonastic expression which repeatedly occurs in our early writers. [It means ride and walk.]
20. Pargame] i.e. Pergamus.
21. My Sparrow white as milk] Compare Sir P. Sidney;
"They saw a maid who thitherward did run,
To catch her sparrow which from her did swerve,
As she a black-silk Cap on him begun
To sett, for foil of his milk-white to serve."
22. A porta inferi] "Fom the gate of hell"
23. Au di vi vo cem] "I have heard the voice"
24. Ma gni fi cat] "He exalts"
25. Armony] i.e. Armenia.—So in Processus Noah;
"What ground may this be?
Noah. The hills of Armony."
Townley Myst. p. 32.
26. Wherefore the birds yet cry
Of your father's boat] The reading of Kele's ed.,"boards,", is perhaps the true one;—compare Piers Plowman;
"And [God] came to Noah anon, and bade him not let
Swith go shape a ship of shides and of boards."
Pass. Non. sig. M ii. ed. 1561
and qy. did Skelton write,—
"Whereon the boards yet lie?"
27. untwined] i.e. tore to pieces, destroyed: so again in our author's Garland of Laurel;
"This goodly flower with storms was untwined."
28. Libany] i.e.
29. manticores] "Another manner of beasts there is in India that ben called manticora, and hath visage of a man, and three huge great teeth in his throat, he hath eyes like a goat and body of a lion, tail of a scorpion and voice of a serpent in such wise that by his sweet song he draweth to him the people and devoureth them and is more deliverer to go than is a fowl to flee." Caxton's Mirror of the world, 1480. sig. e vii. See also R. Holme's Ac. of Armory, 1688. B. ii. p. 212.—This fabulous account is derived from Pliny.
30. Melanchaetes, that hound] See the story of Actaeon in Ovid's Metam.;
"Prima Melanchaetes in tergo vulnera fecit."
("First, Melanchaetes wounds his back.")
31. That his own lord bote,
Might bite asunder thy throat!]—bote, i.e. bit. So in Sir Tryamoure;
"He took the steward by the throat,
And asunder he it bote."
Early Pop. Poetry (by Utterson), i. 28.
32. The wild wolf Lycaon] See Ovid's Metam. i. 163 sqq. for an account of Lycaon, king of
33. And go in at my spare,
And creep in at my gore
Of my gown before] "Spare of a gown, fente de la robe." Palsgrave, p. 273. "That part of women's clothes, sik as of their gown or petticoat, quhilk under the belt and before is open, commonly is called the spare." Skene, quoted by Jamieson, Et. Dict. of Scot. Lang. in v. Spare. Gore, a triangular piece of cloth inserted at the bottom of a shirt or shift, to give breadth to the lower part of it.
34. Kyrie, eleison,
Kyrie, eleison!] "Lord, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy!"
35. Lauda anima mea, Dominum] "May my soul praise you, O Lord"
36. To weep with me look that ye come,
All manner of birds in your kind, &c.] Compare Ovid (see note 1 above);
"Psittacus, Eois imitatrix ales ab Indis,
Occidit: exequias ite frequenter, aves.
Ite, piae volucres, et plangite pectora pennis,
Et rigido teneras ungue notate genas.
Horrida pro moestis lanietur pluma capillis,
Pro longa resonent carmina vestra tuba."
Amor. lib. ii. El. vi. 5. 1.
("Our parrot, winged mimic of the human voice, sent from farthest
37. jangling] i.e. babbling, chattering—an epithet generally applied to the jay by our old poets.
38. The dotterel, that foolish peak] The dotterel is said to allow itself to be caught, while it imitates the gestures of the fowler: peak, seems here to be used by Skelton in the sense of—contemptible fellow; so in his Colyn Cloute;
Of such Pater-noster peaks
All the world speaks."
And see Todd's Johnson's Dict., and
39. To keep just plain-song,
Our chanters shall be the cuckoo] So Shakespeare mentions "the plain-song cuckoo gray." Mids. Night's Dream, act iii. sc. 1.
40. peewit the lapwing] In some parts of
41. The bittern with his bump] "The Bitter, or Bittern, Bumpeth, when he puts his Bill in the reeds." R. Holme's Ac. of Armory, 1688. B. ii. p. 310.
42. Menander] Means here
"Alexander, a gander of Menander's pool."
and because the following passage occurs in a poem by some imitator of Skelton;
"Wots not where to wander,
Whether to Meander,
Or unto Menander."
The Image of Hypocrisy, Part Third.
43. wake] i.e. watching of the dead body during the night.
44. The owl, that is so foul]—foul, i.e. ugly. The Houlate, (in the poem so called, by
"Thus all the fowls, for my filth, has me at feud."
Pinkerton's Scot. Poems, iii. 149.
45. the gaggling gant]—gaggling is cackling: Our author in his Elynour Rumming has
"In came another dant,
With a goose and a gant."
where gant is plainly used for gander. In the present passage, however, gant must have a different signification ("The goose and the gander" being mentioned v. 435), and means, I apprehend,—wild goose. [Rather gannet, solan goose, as explained by Way, Promptor. Parvul. vol. i. p. 186.]
46. The barnacle] i.e. The goose-barnacle, concerning the production of which the most absurd fables were told and credited: some asserted that it was originally the shell-fish called barnacle, others that it grew on trees, &c.
47. Money they shall deal, &c.] According to the ancient custom at funerals.
48. brabbling] i.e. clamour, noise—properly, quarrel, squabble.
49. the osprey
That putteth fishes to a fray]—fray, i.e. fright. It was said that when the osprey, which feeds on fish, hovered over the water, they became fascinated and turned up their bellies.
50. The stork also,
That maketh his nest
In chimneys to rest;
Within those walls
No broken galls
May there abide
Of cuckoldry side] The stork breeds in chimney-tops, and was fabled to forsake the place, if the man or wife of the house committed adultery. The following lines of Lydgate will illustrate the rest of the passage:
"a certain knight,
Gyges called, thing shameful to be told,
To speak plain English, made him [i.e. Candaules] cuckold.
Alas! I was not advised well before,
Unconningly to speak such language:
I should have said how that he had an horn,
Or sought some term with a fair visage,
To excuse my rudeness of this great outrage:
And in some land Cornodo men do them call,
And some affirm that such folk have no gall."
Fall of Princes, B. ii. leaf lvi. ed Wayland.
51. The ostrich, that will eat
An horseshoe so great].—In Struthiocamelus, a portion of that strange book Philomnythie, &c., by Tho. Scot., 1616, a merchant seeing an ostrich, in the desert, eating iron, asks
"What nourishment can from those metals grow?
The Ostrich answers; Sir, I do not eat
This iron, as you think I do, for meat.
I only keep it, lay it up in store,
To help my needy friends, the friendless poor.
I often meet (as far and near I go)
Many a foundered horse that wants a shoe,
Serving a Master that is moneyless
Such I relieve and help in their distress"
Sig. E 7.
52. at a braid] Has occurred before in our author's Bowge of Court, where it means – in an instant; but here it seems to have a somewhat different meaning, and to signify—at an effort, at a push. "At a braid, Faisant mon effort, ton effort, son effort, &c." Palsgrave, p. 831. This expression is used here in connection with singing: [?] and in one of the Christmas Carols, printed for the Percy Society, p. 51, we find,
"Wherefore sing we all at a braid, Noel."
53. E-la] i.e. the highest note in the scale of music.
54. Ne quando
Male cantando,] "Nor when, singing badly"
55. The best that we can,
To make him our bell-man,
And let him ring the bells;
He can do nothing else] "Sit campanista, qui non vult esse sophista, Let him be a bell-ringer, that will be no good Singer." Withals's Dict. p. 178. ed. 1634.
56. Chanticleer, our cock,
. . . .
By the astrology
That he hath naturally,&c.] So Chaucer;
"But when the cock, common Astrologer,
Gan on his breast to beat," &c.
Troilus and Cressida, B. iii. fol. 164.—Works, ed. 1602.
See also Lydgate's Wars of Troy, B. i. sig. D v. ed. 1555; and his copy of verses (entitled in the Catalogue Advices for people to keep a guard over their tongues), MS. Harl. 2255. fol. 132.
57. Albumasar] A famous Arabian, of the ninth century.
58. Haly] Another famous Arabian: "claruit circa A. C. 1100." Fabr. Bibl. Gr. Xiii. 17.
59. Partlot his hen] So in Chaucer's Nun's Priests Tale; Lydgate's copy of verses (entitled in the Catalogue Advices for people to keep a guard over their tongues), MS. Harl. 2255. fol. 132; and G. Douglas's Prol. to the xii Book of his Eneados, p. 401. l. 54. ed. Ruddiman, who conjectures that the name was applied to a hen in reference to the ruff (the partlet), or ring of feathers about her neck.
60. Libera me] "Set me free."
61. B molle] i.e. B flat. So in the last stanza of a poem by
"I keep by round and he by square
The one is B molle and the other B quare."
(B quare is B sharp)
62. Pliny showeth all
In his Story Natural] See Historia Naturalis, lib. x. sect. 2.
63. the sedean] Does it mean subdean, or subdeacon? [Sedekine, sub-deacon. Halliwell, Dict.]
64. the noble falcon] "There are seven kinds of Falcons, and among them all for her nobleness and hardy courage, and withal the frankness of her mettle, I may, and do mean to place the Falcon gentle in chief." Turbervile's Book of Falconry, &c. p. 25. ed. 1611.
65. the gyrfalcon] "Is a gallant Hawk to behold, more huge then any other kind of Falcon, &c." ibid. p. 42.
66. The tiercel gentle] Is properly the male of the goshawk; but Skelton probably did not use the term in its exact meaning, for in the fifth line after this he mentions "the goshawk." It is commonly said (see Steevens's note, on Romeo and Juliet, act ii. sc. 2.) to be called tiercel because it is a tierce or third less than the female. But, according to Turbervile, " he is termed a Tiercelet, for that there are most commonly disclosed three birds in one self eyrie, two Hawks and one Tiercel." Book of Falconry, &c. p. 59. ed. 1611.
67. Amice]— properly the first of the six vestments common to the bishop and presbyters. "First do on the amice, then the alb, then the girdle, then the maniple, then the stole, then the chasuble." Hormanni Vulgaria, sig. E iiii. ed. 1530.
68. The saker] A hawk "much like the Falcon Gentle for largeness, and the Haggard for hardiness." Turbervile's Book of Falconry, &c. p. 45. ed. 1611.
69. The lanners and the merlins] "They are more blank (i.e. white) Hawks then any other, they have less beaks than the rest, and are less armed and pounced then other Falcons be." Turbervile's Book of Falconry, &c. p. 47. ed. 1611. — the merlins,—the smallest of the hawks used by falconers.
70. The hobby] "Of all birds of prey that belong to the Falconers use, I know none less than the Hobby, unless it be the Merlyn." Turbervile's Book of Falconry, &c. p. 53. ed. 1611.
71. the musket] i.e. the male sparrow-hawk. "You must note, that all these kind of hawks have their male birds and cocks of every sort and gender, as the Eagle his Erne and the Sparrow hawk his Musket." Turbervile's Book of Falconry, &c. p. 3. "The male sparrow hawk is called a musket." The Country Farm, p. 877. ed. 1600.
72. The kestrel] A sort of base-bred hawk.
73. holy water clerk] Aquaebajulus, an office usually mentioned with contempt.
74. Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine] "Grant them eternal rest, O Lord"
75. Credo videre bona Domini] "I believe I shall see the good Lord"
76. Domine, exaudi orationem meam] "Lord, hear my prayer"
Deus, cui proprium est misereri et parcere] "Let us pray,
O God whose nature is to have mercy and to spare"
78. And wrapped in a maiden's smock] Spenser seems to have recollected this passage: he says, that when Cupid was stung by a bee, Venus
"took him straight full piteously lamenting,
And wrapt him in her smock."
See a little poem in his Works, viii. 185. ed. Todd.
79. the pretty wren,
That is our Lady's hen] So in a poem (attributed, on no authority, to Skelton) entitled Harmony of Birds, n. d., and reprinted entire in Typogr. Antiq. iv. 380. ed. Dibdin;
"Then said the wren,
I am called the hen
Of our lady most comely."
Wilbraham, in his
"The Robin and the Wren
Are God's cock and hen,
The Martin and the Swallow
Are God's mate and marrow."
In the Ballad of Kind Kittock, attributed to
"Colle sub Elysio nigra nemus illice frondens," &c.
Amor. 6. 49.
("There, in Elysium, on a hill-side's gentle slope there stands a forest of broad, shady oaks" J. Lewis May)
80. Of Gawain] Son of King Lot and nephew of King Arthur. Concerning him, see the Morte d'Arthur (of which some account is given in Note 83 below,—Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in MS. Cott. Nero A. x. fol. 91,—Ywaine and Gawain, in Ritson's Met. Rom. vol. i.,—the fragment of The Marriage of Sir Gawaine, at the end of Percy's Rel. of A. E. P.,—The Adventures of Arthur at the Terne Wathelyn, in Laing's Early Pop. Poetry of Scot., (the same romance, from a different MS., under the title of Sir Gawain and Sir Galaron of Galloway, in Pinkerton's Scot. Poems, vol. iii.),—The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawain, reprinted at
I had written the above note before the appearance of a valuable volume put forth by the Bannatyne Club, entitled Syr Gawayne; A collection of Ancient Romance-Poems, by Scotish and English Authors, relating to that celebrated Knight of the Round Table, with an Introduction, &c., by Sir F. Madden, 1839.
81. Sir Guy] In The Rime of Sir Thopas, Chaucer mentions "Sir Guy" as one of the "romances of pris." For an account of, extracts from, and an analysis of, the English romance on the subject of this renowned hero of
82. the Golden Fleece,
How Jason it won] A book of the whole life of Jason was printed by Caxton in folio, n. d. (about 1475), being a translation by that venerable typographer from the French of Raoul le Fevre. A copy of it (now before me) in the King's Library, though apparently perfect, has no title of any sort. Specimens of this prose-romance, which is not without merit, may be found in Dibdin's Biblioth. Spenc. iv. 199.—The story of Jason is also told by Chaucer, Legend of Hipsiphile and Medea; by Gower, Conf. Am. Lib. v. ; and, at considerable length, by Lydgate. Wars of
83. Of Arthur's Round Table,
With his knights commendable,
And Dame Gaynour, his queen,
Was somewhat wanton, I ween;
How Sir Lancelot de Lake
Many a spear brake
For his lady's sake;
Of Tristram, and King Mark,
And all the whole work
Of Belle Isolde his wife
For whom was much strife;] Concerning the various romances on the subject of Arthur, Lancelot, Tristram, &c. see Sir F. Madden's Introduction to the volume already mentioned, Syr Gawayne, &c.—In this passage, however, Skelton seems to allude more particularly to a celebrated compilation from the French— the prose romance of The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur, &c., commonly known by the name of Morte d'Arthur. At the conclusion of the first edition printed in folio by Caxton (and reprinted in 1817 with an Introd. and Notes by Southey) we are told "this book was ended the ix. year of the reign of king Edward the Fourth by sir Thomas Malory, knight" . . . "which book was reduced into English by Sir Thomas Malory knight as before is said and by me [Caxton] divided into xxi books chaptered and emprinted and finished in th'abbey Westminster the last day of July the year of our lord mcccmxxxv. "
In the Morte d'Arthur, the gallant and courteous Sir Lancelot du
"In our forefathers time," observes Ascham, some what severely, "when Papistry, as a standing pool, covered and overflowed all England, few books were read in our tongue, saving certain books of Chivalry, as they said for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made in Monasteries, by idle Monks, or wanton Canons: as one for example Morte Arthur: the whole pleasure of which book standeth in two special points, in open manslaughter, and bold bawdry: in which book, those be counted the noblest knights, that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts: as Sir Lancelot, with the wife of king Arthur his master: Sir Tristram, with the wife of King Mark his uncle: Sir Lamorak, with the wife of king Lot, that was his own aunt. This is good stuff, for wise men to laugh at, or honest men to take pleasure at. Yet I know, when God's Bible was banished the Court, and Morte Arthure received into the Prince's chamber." The School Master, fol. 27. ed. 1571.
84. — of syr Lybius,
Named Dysconius] See the romance of Lybeaus Disconus (Le beau desconnu), in Ritson's Met. Rom. ii.; also Sir F. Madden's note in the volume entitled Syr Gawayne, &c. p. 346.
85. Of Quater Fylx Amund,
. . how they rode eche one
On Bayarde Mountalbon;
Men se hym now and then
In the forest of Arden] The English prose romance on the subject of these worthies came originally from the press of Caxton, an imperfect copy of his edition n. d. folio, being in Lord Spencer's library; see Dibdin's AEdes Althorp. ii. 298: and that it was also translated from the French by Caxton himself, there is every reason to believe; see Dibdin's Bibliog. Decam. 438. According to the colophon of Copland's ed., this romance was reprinted in 1504 by Wynkyn de Worde; see Typ. Antiq. ii. 116. ed. Dibdin. Copland's edition has the following title: The right pleasant and goodly History of the four sons of Aimon the which for the excellent indicting of it, and for the notable Prowess and great virtues that were in them: is no less pleasant to read, than worthy to be known of all estates both high and low, M.CCCCC.LIIII. folio.
The names of the brothers were "Reynawde, Alarde, Guycharde, and Rycharde, that were wonderful fair, witty, great, mighty, and valiaunt, specially Reynawde which was the greatest and the tallest man that was found at that time in all the world. For he had xvi. feet of length and more." fol. i. ed. Copl. The father of this hopeful family was Duke of Ardeyne.
Bayarde—(properly a bay horse, but used for a horse in general)—" was such a horse, that never was his like in all the world nor never shall be except Busifal the horse of the great King Alexander. For as for to have run. xxx. mile together he would never have sweated. The said Bayarde this horse was grown in the Isle of Boruscan; and Mawgys the son of the duke Benes of Aygremount had given to his cousin Reynawde, that after made the King Charlemagne full wroth and sorry." fol. v. Reynawde had a castle in Gascoigne called Mountawban; hence Skelton's expression, "Bayarde Mountalbon." A woodcut on the title-page represents the four brothers riding "each one" upon the poor animal. "I," says Reynawde, relating a certain adventure, "mounted upon Bayarde and my brethern I made to mount also th'one before and the two other behind me, and thus rode we all four upon my horse Bayarde." fol. lxxxii. Charlemagne, we are told, made peace with Reynawde on condition that he should go as a pilgrim, poorly clothed and begging his bread, to the holy land, and that he should deliver up Bayarde to him. When Charlemagne had got possession of the horse,—"Ha Bayarde, Bayarde," said he, "thou hast often angered me, but I am come to the point, god gramercy, for to avenge me;" and accordingly he caused Bayarde to be thrown from a bridge into the river Meuse, with a great millstone fastened to his neck. "Now ye ought to know that after that Bayarde was cast in the river of Meuse: he went unto the bottom as ye have heard, and might not come up for because of the great stone that was at his neck which was horrible heavy, and when Bayarde saw he might none otherwise escape: he smote so long and so hard with his feet upon the millstone: that he burst it, and came again above the water and began to swim, so that he passed it all over at the other side, and whan he was come to lande: He shaked himselfe for to make fall the water fro him and began to cry high, and made a marvellous noise, and after began to run so swiftly as the tempest had borne him away, and entered in to the great forest of Ardennes . . . and wit it for very certain that the folk of the countrey sayen, that he is yet alive within the wood of Ardennes. But wit it when he seeth man or woman: He runneth anon away, so that no body may come near him." fol. cxlv.
86. Of Judas Machabeus] "Gaultier de Belleperche Arbalestrier, ou Gaultier Arbalestrier de Belleperche, commenca le Romans de Judas Machabee, poursuivit jusques à sa mort . . . . Pierre du Riez le continua jusques à la fin." ("Gaultier &c. started the Romance of Judas Maccabeus, and worked on it until his death, Pierre du Riez continued it to the end.") Fauchet's Reveil de l'origine de la langue et poesie Française, &c., p. 197.
87. of Caesar Julius] In the prologue to an ancient MS. poem, The book of Stories called Cursor Mundi, translated from the French, mention is made of the romance "Of Julius Caesar the emperor." Warton's Hist. of E. P., i. 123, note, ed. 4to.
88. of the love between
Paris and Vienne] This prose romance was printed by Caxton in folio: Here beginneth t'history of the noble right valiant and worthy knight Paris, and of the fair Vienne the dauphin's daughter of Viennois, the which suffered many adversities because of their true love ere they could enjoy the effect therof of each other. Colophon: Thus endeth t'history of the noble, &c. &c., translated out of French into English by William Caxton at Westminster finshed the last day of August the year of our Lord MCCCCLXXXV, and enprinted the xix day of December the same year, and the first year of the reign of king Harry the seventh.
Gawin Douglas tells us in his
p. 16. Bann. ed.
89. duke Hannibal]—duke, i.e. leader, lord.— So Lydgate;
"Which brother was unto duke Hannibal."
Fall of Princes, B. ii. leaf xlv. ed. Wayland;
and in a copy of verses entitled Thank God of all, he applies the word to our Saviour;
"The dearworth duke that deem us shall."
MS. Cott. Calig. A ii. fol. 66.
90. Of Hector of
That was all their joy] See the Wars of Troy by Lydgate, a paraphrastical translation of Guido de Colonna's Historia Trojana: it was first printed in 1513. See too the Recueil of the Histories of Troy. Compare Hawes;
"Of the worthy Hector that was all their joye."
The Pastime of pleasure, sig. P iii. ed. 1555.
91. of the love so hot
That made Troilus to dote
Upon fair Cressid, &c.] See Chaucer's Troilus and Creseide.
92. ouche] i.e. a buckle, clasp, brooch; or any other ornament. —Concerning ouche, a word whose etymology and primary signification are uncertain, see Tyrwhitt's Gloss. to Chaucer's Cant. Tales, v. Nouches, and
"interchanged their rings,
Of which I can not tellen no scripture,
But well I wot, a broche of gold and azure,
In which a Ruby set was like an heart,
Cresseid him gave, and stuck it on his shirt."
Chaucer's Works, fol. 164. ed. 1602.
After Cressid becomes acquainted with Diomede, she gives him a brooch, which she had received from Troilus on the day of her departure from
93. That made the male to to wring] So Skelton elsewhere;
"That ye can not espy
Howe the male doth wry."
Colyn Cloute, v. 687.
"The countering at
Wrung us on the males."
Why come ye not to Court, v. 74.
and so Lydgate;
"Now all so mote I thrive and thé, said he then,
I can not see for all wits and espies,
And craft and cunning, but that the male so wries
That no cunning may prevail and appear
Against a woman's wit and her answer."
The prohemy of a marriage, &c. MS. Harl. 372. fol. 50.
94. kiss the post] i.e. to be baffled, fail of one's object. So Barclay;
"Yet from beginning absent if thou be,
Either shalt thou lose thy meat and kiss the post," &c.
Egloge ii. sig. B iiii. ed. 1570.
The expression is found in much later writers: see, for instance, Heywood's Woman Killed with Kindness, sig. E 2. ed. 1617.
95. of Antiochus] Whom Chaucer calls "the cursed king Antiochus." The Man of Law's Prol. v. 4502. ed. Tyr. His story may be found in Gower's Confessio Amantis, lib. viii. fol. clxxv. sqq. ed. 1554.
96. De Antiquitatibus] "Of the Antiquities " i.e The Antiquites of the Jews by Flavius Josephus.
97. of Mardocheus,
And of great Ahasuerus, &c.] "Even scripture-history was turned into romance. The story of Esther and Ahasueras, or of Anion or Hanlon, and Mardocheus or Mordecai, was formed into a fabulous poem." Warton, note on Hist. of E. P. ii. 178. (where some lines of the romance are quoted from a MS.) ed. 4to.
98. Vesca] i.e. Vashti.
99. Of king Alexander] See Weber's Introduction, p. xx. sqq., and the romance of King Alexander in his Met. Rom. i.; also The Book of the most noble and vailiant Conqueror Alexander the Great, reprinted by the Bannatyne Club, 1831.
100. of king Evander] As the lady declares (v. 756) that she was slightly acquainted with Virgil, we may suppose that her knowledge of this personage was derived from The Recueil of the Histories of Troy, and Caxton's Book of Eneydos.
101. too diffuse for me] i.e. too difficult for me to understand. "Diffuse, hard to be understand." Palsgrave, p. 310.
"But oft yet by it [logic] a thing plain, bright and pure,
Is made diffuse, unknown, hard and obscure."
Barclay's Ship of Fooles, fol. 53. ed. 1570.
102. ennewed] "I Ennewe, I set the last and freshest colour upon a thing, as painters do when their work shall remain to declare their cunning, Je renouvelle. Your image is in manner done; so soon as I have ennewed it I will send it you home," &c. Palsgrave, p. 536.
"Alike ennewed with quickness of colour,
Both of the rose and the lily flower."
Lydgate's Wars of Troy, B. ii. sig. I ii. ed. 1555.
103. John Lydgate
Writeth after an higher rate] Lydgate, however, disclaims all elevation of style: see his Fall of Princes, Prol. sig. A iii. ed. Wayland; his Wars of Troy, B. ii. sigs. F ii, K ii, B. v. sigs. E e i. ii. iii. ed. 1555.
104. No man that can amend, &c.] So Hawes, speaking of the works of Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate;
"Whose famous draughts no man can amende."
The Pastime of pleasure, sig. G iiii. ed. 1555.
105. In worth] i.e. kindly.
106. Flos volucrum formose, vale!
. . . .
Pectore semper eris] "Farewell, beautiful flower of birds! Philip, you lie beneath this marble, you who were dear to me. Your image will be graven on my heart, as long as the stars shine in the sky"
107. Per me laurigerum
. . . .
Bien m'en souvient] "This poem is allowed to be sung by me, Skelton, the Poet Laureate of Britain. Johanna, the virgin who owned the bird, is most excellent, more beautiful in her person, purer than the Naiad; Corinna was taught it, but the learned themselves know it. I well remember it." ???
108. Beati immaculati in via,
O gloriosa femina] "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, O most renowned lady"
109. If Arethusa will send
Me influence to indite] Skelton recollected that Virgil had invoked this nymph as a Muse;
"Extremum hunc, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem."
Ecl. x. 1.
("My last task this – vouchsafe me it, Arethusa!" H.R.Fairclough)
110. She flourisheth new and new
In beauty and virtue] So Lydgate:
"And ever increasing in virtue new and new."
111. Hac claritate gemina,
O gloriosa femina] "O most renowned and doubly bright lady"
112. Retribue servo tuo, vivifica me!
Labia mea laudabunt te]
"Reward your servant, so that I may live!
My lips praise you"
113. odious Envy, &c.] Here Skelton has an eye to Ovid's picture of Envy:
"Pallor in ore sedet; macies in corpore toto:
Nusquam recta acies: livent rubigine dentes:
Pectora felle virent: lingua est suffusa veneno.
Risus abest, nisi quem visi movere dolores.
Nec, fruitur somno, vigilacibus excita curis:
Sed videt ingratos, intabescitque videndo,
Successus hominum: carpitque et carpitur una:
Suppliciumque suum est."
Met. ii. 775
("Her sight is skewed, her teeth are livid with decay, her breast is green with bile, and her tongue is suffused with venom. She only smiles at the sight of suffering. She never sleeps, excited by watchful cares. She finds men’s successes disagreeable, and pines away at the sight. She gnaws and being gnawed is also her own punishment." A. S. Kline)
See too the description of Envy in Piers Plowman, sig. F ii. ed. 1561.
114. Lean as a rake] From Chaucer.
"As lean was his horse as is a rake."
Prol. to Cant. Tales, v. 289. ed. Tyr.
115. Legem pone mihi, domina, viam justificationum tuarum!
Quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum]
"Set before me for a law the way of thy justifications, O Lady!
As the hart panteth after the fountains of water."
116. With her browes bent] —bent, i.e. arched. Compare Hawes;
"Her forehead steep with fair brows ybent,
Her eyen gray."
The Pastime of pleasure. sig. S i. ed. 1555
I may just observe that these passages (and many others which might be cited) show how unnecessarily Ritson substituted "brent" for "bent" in The Squire of Low Degree; see his note, Met. Rom. iii. 351.
117. Polexene] i.e. Polyxena, the daughter of Priam,—celebrated by Lydgate in his Wars of Troy, and by others.
118. Memor esto verb tui servo tuo!
Servus tuus sum ego] "Be thou mindful of thy word to thy servant. I am thy servant."
119. with favour fret]— favour,i.e. beauty; so Skelton has "features favourable," in the second of his Divers Ballads and Ditties Solacious, v. 8; fret, I believe, does not here mean fraught (see Tyrwhitt's Gloss. to Chaucer's Cant. Tales), but is equivalent to—wrought, adorned,— in allusion to fret-work; so in our author's Garland of
"Fret all with orient pearls of Garnet."
120. The columbine commendable,
The jelofer amiable] jelofer is perhaps what we now call gillyflower; but it was formerly the name for the whole class of carnations, pinks, and sweet-williams. So Graunde Amoure terms La Bell Pucell;
"The gentil jelofer, the goodly columbine."
Hawes's Pastime of pleasure, sig. N i. ed. 1555.
121. Bonitatem fecisti cum servo tuo, domina,
Et ex praecordiis sonant praeconia]
"Thou hast done well with thy servant, O lady.
And declarations sound forth from the breast."
122. scar] i.e the wart.
123. Enhatched] i.e. Inlaid: our author has the word again in his Garland of Laurel;
"Enhatched with pearl and stones preciously."
124. To forget deadly sin] Compare the first of our author's Divers Ballads and Ditties Solacious, v. 11.
125. Defecit in salutatione tua anima mea;
Quid petis filio, mater dulcissima? babae!]
"My soul hath fainted after thy salvation.
What do you ask for your son, O sweetest mother? O wonderful!"
126. make to the lure] A metaphor from falconry: "Lure is that whereto Falconers call their young Hawks, by casting it up in the air, being made of feathers and leather, in such wise that in the motion it looks not unlike a fowl." Latham's Falconry (Explan. of Words of Art), 1658.
127. Quomodo dilexi legem tuam, domina!
Recedant vetera, nova sint omnia]
"How I am pleased with your law, O lady!
The old things have departed, everything is new."
128. And to amend her tale,
When she list to avail] — avail is generally—to let down, to lower: [condescended to show me some favor?] but I know not how to explain the present passage, which appears to be defective.
129. And hands soft as silk,
Whiter than the milk,
That are so quickly veined] — quickly veined i.e. lively veined. Compare Hawes;
"By her proper hand, soft as any silk."
The Pastime of pleasure, sig. II iiii. ed. 1555.
"Her fingers small, and thereto right long,
White as the milk, with blue veins among."
Ibid. sig. S
130. reclaimed] A metaphor from falconry. "Reclaiming is to tame, make gentle, or to bring a Hawk to familiarity with the man." Latham's Falconry (Explan. of Words of Art), 1658.
131. Iniquos odio habui!
Non calumnientur me superbi]
"I have hated the unjust!
Let not the proud calumniate me."
132. She is plainly express
Egeria, the goddess,
And like to her image,
Emportured with courage,
A lover's pilgrimage] I must leave the reader to form his own idea of the meaning of the last two lines, which are beyond my comprehension. [Perhaps—made to bear herself (or else, simply portrayed) with courage (feeling); a fit object for lovers to make pilgrimages to.]
133. Mirabilia testimonia tua!
Sicut novellae plantationes in juventute sua]
"Thy testimonies are wonderful!
As new plants in their youth."
134. So goodly as she dresses,
So properly she presses
The bright golden tresses
Of her hair so fine,
Like Phoebus' beams shine.
Whereto should I disclose
The gartering of her hose?] — Phoebus' beams shine, i.e. the shine of Phoebus' beams. Compare Hawes;
"Her shining hair so properly she dresses
Alofe her forehead with fair golden tresses
. . . . .
Her feet proper, she gartered well her hose."
The Pastime of pleasure, sig. S i. ed. 1555
135. Clamavi in toto corde, exaudi me!
Misericordia tua magna est super me]
"I cried with my whole heart, hear me.
Thy mercy is great towards me."
136. Kirtle] "Kirtle, a garment, corpset, surcot, cotelle." Palsgrave, p. 236. It has been variously explained (see notes on Henry IV. Part ii. act ii. sc. 4, Shakespeare by Malone and Boswell, xvii. 98, 99, Todd's Johnson's Dict., and Nares's Gloss.), petticoat,—safe-guard or riding-hood,—long cloak,—long mantle, reaching to the ground, with a head to it that entirely covered the face, and usually red,—apron,—jacket,—and loose gown!!! The following note by Gifford on Cynthia's Revels (Jonson's Works, ii. 260) gives the most satisfactory account of a kirtle: "Few words have occasioned such controversy among the commentators on our old plays as this; and all for want of knowing that it is used in a twofold sense, sometimes for the jacket merely, and sometimes for the train or upper petticoat attached to it. A full kirtle was always a jacket and petticoat, a half kirtle (a term which frequently occurs) was either the one or the other: but our ancestors, who wrote when this article of dress was everywhere in use, and when there was little danger of being misunderstood, most commonly contented themselves with the simple term (kirtle), leaving the sense to be gathered from the context."
Haec virgo est dulcissima]
"Princes have persecuted me without cause!
All things considered
A paradise of delights
Is this sweetest girl."
138. Domine, probasti me] "Lord, thou hast proved (i.e.tested) me"
139. Tibi, Domine, commendamus] "To you, Lord, we commend ourselves."
140. Car elle vaut] "Because she wishes it."
141. Per me laurigerum Britonum Skeltonida vatem] "By me, Skelton, poet laureate of
142. Laudibus eximiis merito haec redimita puella est:
Formosam cecini, qua non formosior nulla est;
Formosam potius quam commendaret Homerus.
Sic juvat interdum rigidos recreare labores,
Nec minus hoc titulo tersa .Minerva mea est.
Rien que plaisir]
"This girl deserves to be garlanded with praises.
I sing of the beauty than whom none is more beautiful.
The beauty greater than the one praised by Homer [i.e. Helen of Troy]
In this way she makes tedious labour delightful
Not least this little poem. She is my Goddess Minerva.
Nothing but pleasing."
143. an addition] Though found in all the eds. of Philip Sparrow which I have seen, it was not, I apprehend, originally published with the poem. It is inserted (and perhaps first appeared) in our author's Garland of Laurel, v. 1258, where he tells us that some persons "take grievance, and grudge with frowning countenance," at his poem on Philip Sparrow,—alluding probably more particularly to Barclay; see Account of Skelton and his Writings.
144. deprave] i.e. vilify, defame. "Thus was sir Arthur depraved and evil said of." Morte d'Arthur, B. xxi. c. i. vol. ii. 433. ed. Southey.
145. Hercules that hell did harrow] Hercules having carried away from it his friends Theseus and Pirithous, as well as the dog Cerberus. The harrowing of hell was an expression properly and constantly applied to our Lord's descent into hell, as related in the Gospel of Nicodemus. There were several early miracle-plays on this favourite subject; and Lydgate strangely enough says that Christ
"Took out of hell souls many a pair,
Maugre Cerberus and al his cruelty."
Testamentum,–MS. Harl. 2255. fol. 49.
I may add, that Warner, speaking of Hercules, uses the words "harrowed hell." Albion's
146. Slew of the Epidaures, &c.] Qy. is not the text corrupted here?
147. Onocentaures] Like a centaur, but half human and half ass, rather than horse. However, see AElian De Nat. Anim. lib. xvii. c. 9. ed. Gron., and Phile De Anim. Prop. c. 44. ed. Pauw. Both these writers describe the onocentaur as having the bosom of a woman. R. Holme says it "is a Monster, being the Head and Breasts of a Woman set upon the Shoulders of a Bull." Ac. of Armory, 1688. B. ii. p. 208.
148. Hippocentaures] i.e. centaurs, half human, half horses.
149. He plucked the bull
By the horned skull,
And offered to Cornucopia] The "bull" means Achelous, who, during his combat with Hercules, assumed that shape:
"Rigidum fera dextera cornu
Dum tenet, infregit; truncaque a fronte revellit.
Naïdes hoc, pomis et odoro flore repletum,
Sacrarunt; divesque meo bona Copia cornu est."
Ovid. Met. ix. 85.
("holding the tough horn in his cruel hand, he broke it and tore it away from my mutilated brow. The Naiades took it, filling it with fruit and scented flowers, and made it sacred: the Goddess of Abundance is rich now because of my horn of plenty." A. S. Kline.)
150.the venomous serpent,
That in hell is never brent] —brent, e. burned. A somewhat profane allusion to the scriptural expression "the worm dieth not; "— (worm and serpent were formerly synonymous).
151. Primo Regum] i.e. The First Book of Kings, or, as it is also called, The First Book of Samuel, chap. xxviii.
"Primo regum as ye may plainly read."
Lydgate's Fall of Princes, B. ii. leaf xxxix ed. Wayland.
152. He bade the Pythoness
. . . . .
But whether it were so,
He were idem in numero,
The self same Samuel, &c.] — Pythoness i.e.—the witch of Endor.
And speak as renably, and fair, and well,
As to the Pythoness did Samuel:
And yet will some men say it was not he," &c.
Chaucer's Friar's Tale, v. 7091. ed. Tyr.
"And secretly this Saul is forth gone
To a woman that should him rede and wiss,
. . . . .
In Israel called a pythoness.
. . . . .
To divines this matter I commit,
Whether it was the soul of Samuel," &c.
Lydgate's Fall of Prynces, B. ii. leaf xl. ed. Wayland.
See also Gower's Conf. Am. B. iv. fol. lxxiii. ed. 1554; Barbour's Bruce, B. iii. v. 982. ed.
153. conditions] i.e. qualities. But in our author's Garland of Laurel, where this "addition" is given, the passage according to Fake's ed., and rightly, perhaps (compare the preceding lines), stands thus;
"And by her superstitions
Of wonderful conditions."
154. idem in numero] "exactly the same."
155. ascry] i.e. to assail (with a shout). In Langtoft's Chronicle we find,
"Edward was hardy, the Londoners gan he ascry."
p. 217. ed. Hearne,—(who in Gloss. renders "ascrie "—cry to).
The original French has,
"Sir Eduard fiz le rays, les loundrays escrye."
MS. Cott. Jul. A v. fol. 122.
Roquefort gives "Escrier: Faire entendre son cri d'armes dans une bataille . . . marcher à l'ennemi, l'attaquer," ("Make one's cries heard in battle, charge the enemy, attack") &c. Gloss. de la Lang.
156. Inferias, Philippe, tuas Scroupe pulchra Joanna
Instanter petiit: cur nostri carminis illam
Nunc pudet? est sero; minor est infamia vero
"Philip, your obsequies the fair Joanna Scrope ardently longed for: why is she now ashamed of our song? It is too late; shame is less than truth." (PH)
157. Luride, cur, livor, volucris pia funera damnas?
Talia te rapiant rapiunt quae fata volucrem!
Est tamen invidia mors tibi continua.]
"Why, Green Envy, do you condemn the sacred funeral rites of a sparrow? May the fate which overtook my bird seize upon thee. Yet malice is a perpetual death to thee" (PH).