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Rabelais, the expedient of indecorum was deliberately adopted to embarrass clerical interference.1

1 A full bibliography of Lyndsay's works, with facsimiles of the title-pages of the chief editions, is given in David Laing's Complete Edition (Edinburgh, 1871). For the four Scots poets dealt with in this chapter, see T. F. Henderson's studious monograph on Scottish Vernacular Literature (1898).

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"In Henry VIII.'s reign sprang up a new company of courtly makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyat the elder, and Henry, Earle of Surrey, were the two chieftains."-PUTTENHAM, Arte of English Poesie.

"That Time's best makers and the authors were
Of those small poems which the title bear
Of songs and sonnets."-Drayton.

Stephen Hawes-Alexander Barclay-John Skelton-His pictures of low life-Skeltonic verse-Sir Thomas Wyatt-His metrical innovations-Earl of Surrey-His use of decasyllabic blank verse.

THE early Tudor kings, Henry VII. and Henry VIII., imported their court painters, Mabuse and Holbein, from abroad. It seems a pity that they could not have imported, say from Scotland, their court poets; for of the tribe of courtly makers Stephen Hawes and John Skelton can scarcely be described as brilliant representatives.

An Oxford man of reputed Suffolk origin, Hawes was commended to Henry VII. as a scholar formed by travel, a complete gentleman, and a master of languages. His chief poem, The Passetyme of Pleasure, was written about 1505-6, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde about 1512. In form it is one of the old-fashioned allegories; through Hawes, in fact, medieval allegory sang its last courtly note. A swan-song of which one note at any rate still vibrates in the couplet:

For though the day be never so long,
At last the belles ringeth to evensong.

During the last years of Henry VII., Alexander Barclay, a Scot by descent, though apparently a native of the South of England, possibly Croydon, was writing a book which made almost as great a stir in its own day as Gulliver's Travels did in that of the first George; this was a version, or rather paraphrase, of Sebastian Brandt's Narrenschiff (or Ship of Fools), printed by Pynson in December, 1509. The bulk of Barclay's version, constituting a ponderous and extravagantly didactic satire, was thrown into the form of the Chaucerian stanza, but parts are linked together by passages in prose, while the metre is occasionally varied.1 Homely in style, Barclay was fairly harmonious in manner, and there was enough pith in him to make his work long popular. The Ship of Fools suggested the machinery of that formidable satire of Henry VIII.'s reign called The Bowge of Court, by John Skelton, laureate, the whip of Wolsey, and the father of English doggerel," beastly Skelton," as Pope calls him.2

1 This Present Boke, named the Shyp of Folys ... (printed by Pynson, December, 1509, folio). A modern edition, with some account of Barclay, appeared in 1874 (London, 4to), and a notice of Barclay's Life and Writings, by T. H. Jamieson, in the same year. See, too, Herford's German Influence on English Literature in Sixteenth Century.

2 Bowge (Bouche) of Court signifies the King's Table; the name is given to an ornate vessel in which Skelton embarks in quest of the purchasable commodity, court favour. Skelton's anarchical versification, known as Skeltonic or Skeltonical, has often been imitated; he may have caught the lilt of it himself from the tavern harpers of his day. Echoes of his pungent rhymes and playful word coinage may be found in Butler, Swift, Peter Pindar, Southey, Thackeray (Peg o' Limavaddy), but the velocity of his verse has seldom been equalled. Skelton handed on to Spenser the name of Colin Clout for a religious satirist or reformer. The resentment of his enemies encompassed him about, and it was in an asylum that he died on June 21st, 1529 (buried in chancel of St.






Skelton's elegy on the Sparrow is a tour de force of a kind rare in any literature; yet it seems characteristically English. When Catullus bewailed the death of Lesbia's bird, he confined himself to eighteen truly exquisite lines; but "ragged, tatter'd, and jagged" Skelton, while lamenting the Sparrow that was "slain at Carowe" has engrafted on the subject so many far-sought and whimsical embellishments that his episode is really what the old editions term it a "boke."

The whole poem is an extraordinary arabesque, in which wit, pedantry, imagination, and burlesque are strangely intermingled. Nursery rhymes, strongly suggestive of the death and burial of Cock Robin, are blended with Macaronic verses full of irony and mischief, and not seldom indecency. Skelton's wayward rhymes, which are well termed "breathless" (so much breath do they require in reading them aloud), are often miracles of skill; and similarly his verse, from its volume and volubility, is well compared to the ribands out of a conjurer's mouth at a fair. Skelton imitates low life with the coarse relish of a Dutch painter, while as a master of the repulsive he challenges Swift and Hogarth.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, born at Allington Castle in Kent, in 1503, was the son of Sir Henry Wyatt, a strong Lancastrian, and faithful adherent to the House of Tudor. He took his degree at Cambridge (St. John's), at the age of seventeen. His distinguished bearing and appearance aided his progress at the Court of Henry VIII. We soon

Margaret's, Westminster). The Poetical Works of Skelton were edited in two volumes by A. Dyce (London, 1843, 8vo), and a new Selection, containing The Bowge, Phyllyp Sparowe, Colin Cloute, and Why come ye not to Court? (ed. W. H. Williams), appeared in 1902. A fresh edition (which is a desideratum) is understood to be in contemplation by A. F. Pollard for the Clarendon Press.

find him travelling abroad on diplomatic missions, and in 1530 he was High Marshal at Calais. He knew Anne Boleyn well, and is said to have warned Henry VIII. against her light character, having had cause himself, many believed, to rue that same levity. He was sent to the Tower upon her fall, but was very soon released.1 He went as envoy to the Emperor Charles V. in 1537, and was sent to Flanders again in 1540. Wyatt's official correspondence shows him to have been a man of quick observation and an excellent writer. The penetration which he showed into the Emperor's character was remarkable. After Cromwell's fall, however, in June, 1540, Wyatt's enemies, particularly Bishop Bonner, procured his imprisonment; he was arrested and sent to the Tower on a charge of having defamed the King, and having conspired with Reginald Pole against him. After an eloquent defence Wyatt was acquitted and restored to favour in the summer of 1541. He spent most of the next year in retirement, but he died from a chill caught on the hurried journey to Falmouth to receive the Emperor's ambassador in the autumn of 1542. He was buried at Sherborne on October 11th. His poems ran only at court until, in 1557, a shrewd stationer, one Richard Tottel, collected them and the MS. poems of rival courtiers (271 in all) into the


1 The career of Anne Boleyn is still shrouded in much mystery. It is probable that Wyatt long cherished a secret affection for her. They were children together, and Anne wrote to him from Paris in 1515 as your loving little Nan." She is certainly the "Anna" of several poems, and the platonic attachment between the two must have been alluded to in the lines:

"Forget not-oh! forget not this,
How long ago hath been and is
The love that never meant amiss,
Forget not yet."

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