Page images
PDF
EPUB

bishop Kennet, who has remarked in a blank page, that the archbishop permitted his wife dame Margaret to present the book to some of the nobility. It is certainly at this time extremely scarce, and would be deservedly deemed a fortunate acquisition to those capricious students who labour only to collect a library of rarities. Yet it is not generally known, that there are two copies in the Bodleian library of this anonymous version, which have hitherto been given to an obscure poet by the name of John Keeper. One of them, in 1643, appears to have been the property of bishop Barlow; and on the opposite side of the title, in somewhat of an ancient hand, is this manuscript insertion: "The auctor of this booke is one John Keeper*, who was brought upp in the close of Wells." Perhaps Antony Wood had no better authority than this slender unauthenticated note, for saying that John Keeper, a native of Somersetshire, and a graduate at Oxford in the year 1564, and who afterwards studied music and poetry at Wells, translated The whole Psalter into English metre which containeth 150 psalms, etc. printed at London by John Day living over Aldersgate, about 1570 [1574], in quarto: and added thereunto The Gloria Patri, Te Deum, The Song of the three Children, Quicunque vult, Benedictus, &c. all in metre. At the end of which, are musical notes set in four parts to several psalms. What other things, he adds, of poetry, music, or other faculties, he has published, I know not; nor any thing more; yet I suppose he had some dignity in the church of Wells P. If this version should really be the work of Keeper, I fear we are still to seek for archbishop Parker's psalms, with Strype and Ames ¶.

* [John Keeper, or Kepyer, occurs in the "Arbor of Amitie, wherein is comprised pleasant poems & pretie poesies, set forth by Thomas Howell, gentleman, anno 1568." Imprinted at London, by H. Denham, 12mo, b. 1. Dedicated to Ladie Anne Talbot. Among the recommendatory copies of verses is one signed "John Keeper, student." See also "J. K. to his friend H." fol. 27 a. and "H. to K." ibid. Again, fol. 33 b. 34 a. 38, 39, &c.

Howell had another volume of verses in Pearson's collection, entitled "Devises for his owne exercise and his Friends pleasure," printed in 1581, 4to. The first of these occurs in the Bodleian library, and denotes him to have had a contraction of metrical spirit, which ficly adapted itself to posies for rings; ex. gr.

As flowres freshe to-day,
To-morrow in decay;
Such is th' uncertaine stay
That man hath here alway.

The following lines from a poem wherein a lover "describes his loss of liberty and craves return of love," are the very best I could trace in the volume, which is deemed

unique, and therefore claimed an entire perusal :

When first I cast my carelesse eye

Upon thy hue, that drew the dart,
I little thought thou shouldest lye

So deepe sunck downe in my poore hart;
I would full faine forgo my holde,
My free estate by wit to folde.
As birde alurde in winters sore,

On limed twigges that often bee,
Thinkes he is free as late before

Untill he 'sayes his flight to flee:
He cries, he flies, in vaine he tries,
On twigge in bondage there he lies.
So I, by lure of thy good grace,

That thought my hart at libertie,
Was wrapt unwares by featurde face,

With most extreme captivitie:
A Beautie hath me bondman made,
By love sincere, that shall not vade.
fol. 2.-PARK.]

P Ath. Oxon. i. 181.

[This suggestion of Mr. Warton drew forth the following satisfactory investigation, it is conjectured, from the Rev. Dr. Lort, who was chaplain to the archbishop

A considerable contributor to the metrical theology was Robert Crowley, educated in Magdalene college at Oxford, where he obtained a fellowship in 1542. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, he commenced printer and preacher in London. He lived in Ely-rents in Holborn ; “where,” says Wood, "he sold books, and at leisure times exercised the gift of preaching in the great city and elsewhere." In 1550 he printed the first edition of PIERCE PLOWMAN'S VISION, but with the ideas of a controversialist, and with the view of helping forward the reformation by the revival of a book which exposed the absurdities of popery in strong satire, and which at present is only valuable or useful, as it serves to gratify the harmless researches of those peaceable philosophers who study the progression of ancient literature. His pulpit and his press, those two prolific sources of faction, happily co-operated in propagating his principles of predestination; and his shop and his sermons were alike frequented. Possessed of those talents which qualified him for captivating the attention and moving the passions of the multitude, under queen Elizabeth he held many dignities in a church, whose doctrines and polity his undiscerning zeal had a tendency to destroy. He translated into popular rhyme, not only the psalter, but the litany, with hymns, all which he printed together in 1549. In the same year, and in the same measure, he published The Voice of the last Trumpet blown by the seventh angel. This piece contains twelve several lessons, for the instruction or amendment of those who seemed at that time chiefly to need advice; and among whom he enumerates lewd priests, scholars, physicians, beggars, yeomen, gentlemen, magistrates, and women. He also attacked the abuses of his age in thirty-one EPIGRAMS, first printed in 1551. The subjects are placed alphabetically. In his first alphabet are Abbayes, Alehouses, Alleys, and Almeshouses. The second, Bailiffs, Bawds, Beggars, Bear-bayting, and Brawlers. They display, but without spirit or humour, the reprehensible practices and licentious manners which then prevailed. He published in 1551 a kind of metrical sermon on Pleasure and Pain, Heaven and Hell. Many of these, to say nothing of his almost innu

of Canterbury:-"In the Lambeth library is a beautiful copy of this edition of the Psalms, on the back of the title of which is written to the right vertuouse and honorable Ladye the Countesse of Shrewsburye, from your lovinge frende, Margaret Parker. This is written in the hand of the time when she lived; and the binding of the book, which is richly gilded, seems also of the same date. But there is no date to the book, and where Antony Wood found that of 1570 for his copy, if it was of the same book with this, we are yet to seek. If that date really belongs to it, it cannot probably be the same edition with that in the Lambeth library, which has

[blocks in formation]

merable controversial tracts in prose, had repeated editions, and from his own press. But one of his treatises, to prove that Lent is a human invention and a superstitious institution, deserves notice for its plan: it is a Dialogue between Lent and Liberty. The personification of Lent is a bold and a perfectly new prosopopeia. In an old poem of this age against the papists, written by one doctor William Turner, a physician, but afterwards dean of Wells, the Mass, or mistress MISSA, is personified, who, arrayed in all her meretricious trappings, must at least have been a more theatrical figures. Crowley likewise wrote, and printed in 1588, a rhyming manual, The School of Vertue and Book of good Nurture. This is a translation into metre, of many of the less exceptionable Latin hymns anciently used by the catholics, and still continuing to retain among the protestants a degree of popularity. One of these begins, Jam Lucis orto sydere. At the end are prayers and graces in rhyme. This book, which in Wood's time had been degraded to the stall of the ballad-singer, and is now only to be found on the shelf of the antiquary, was intended to supersede or abolish the original Latin hymns, which were only offensive because they were in Latin, and which were the recreation of scholars in our universities after dinner on festival days. At an archiepiscopal visitation of Merton college in Oxford, in the year 1562, it was a matter of inquiry, whether the superstitious hymns appointed to be sung in the Hall on holidays, were changed for the psalms in metre; and one of the fellows is accused of having attempted to prevent the singing of the metrical Te Deum in the refectory on All-saints day.

It will not be foreign to our purpose to remark here, that when doctor Cosins, prebendary of Durham, afterwards bishop, was cited before the parliament in 1640, for reviving or supporting papistic usages in his cathedral, it was alleged against him, that he had worn an embroidered cope, had repaired some ruinous cherubims, had used a consecrated knife for dividing the sacramental bread, had renovated the blue cap and golden beard of a little image of Christ on bishop Hatfield's tomb, had placed two lighted tapers on the altar which was decorated with emblematic sculpture, and had forbidden the psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins to be sung in the choir".

[My late friend Mr. Fillingham, who underwent the task of framing an Index to Warton's History, pointed out that this was not a poem, but a Dialogue in prose, entitled "The Examination of the Masse." The speakers are, "Mastres Missa.

Master Knowledge.
Master Fremouth.

Master Justice of the peace.
Peter Preco, the Cryer.
Palemon, the Judge.

Doctor Porphyry.

Sir Philip Philargirye."-PARK.] * See Strype, Eccl. Mem. ii. p. 138. See the speakers in Ochin's Dialogue against the Pope, Englished by Poynet, printed in 1549. Strype, ibid. 198.

t Strype's Parker, B. 11. Ch. ii. pag. 116, 117. Compare Life of Sir Thomas Pope, 2nd edit. p. 354.

Neale's Hist. Purit. vol. ii. ch. vii. pag. 387. edit. 1733. Nalson's Collections, vol. i. pag. 789.

SECTION XLVII.

Tye's Acts of the Apostles in rhyme. His merit as a Musician. Early piety of king Edward the Sixth. Controversial Ballads and Plays. Translation of the Bible. Its effects on our Language. Arthur Kelton's Chronicle of the Brutes. First Drinking-song. Gammar Gurton's Needle.

BUT among the theological versifiers of these times, the most notable is Christopher Tye, a doctor of music at Cambridge in 1545, and musical preceptor to prince Edward, and probably to his sisters the princesses Mary and Elizabeth. In the reign of Elizabeth he was organist of the royal chapel, in which he had been educated. To his profession of music he joined some knowledge of English literature; and having been taught to believe that rhyme and edification were closely connected, and being persuaded that every part of the Scripture would be more instructive and better received if reduced into verse, he projected a translation of the ACTS of the ApostlES into familiar metre. It appears that the BOOK OF KINGS had before been versified, which for many reasons was more capable of shining under the hands of a translator. But the most splendid historical book, I mean the most susceptible of poetic ornament, in the Old or New Testament, would have become ridiculous when clothed in the fashionable ecclesiastical stanza. Perhaps the plan of setting a narrative of this kind to music was still more preposterous and exceptionable. However, he completed only the first fourteen chapters; and they were printed in 1553, by William Serres, with the following title, which, by the reader who is not acquainted with the peculiar complexion of this period, will hardly be suspected to be serious: "The ACTES OF THE APOSTLES translated into Englyshe metre, and dedicated to the kinges most excellent maiestye by Cristofer Tye, doctor in musyke, and one of the Gentylmen of hys graces most honourable Chappell, with notes to eche chapter to synge and also to play upon the Lute, very necessarye for studentes after theyr studye to fyle their wittes, and alsoe for all christians that cannot synge, to reade the good and godlye storyes of the lives of Christ his apostles." It is dedicated in Sternhold's stanza, "To the vertuous and godlye learned prynce Edward the Sixth." As this singular dedication contains, not only anecdotes of the author and his work, but of his majesty's eminent attention to the study of the scripture, and of his skill in playing on the lute, I need not apologise for transcribing a few dull stanzas; especially as they will also serve as a specimen of the poet's native style and manner, unconfined by the fetters of translation.

Your Grace may note, from tyme to tyme,
That some doth undertake
Upon the Psalms to write in ryme,
The verse plesaunt to make:

And some doth take in hand to wryte
Out of the Booke of Kynges;
Because they se your Grace delyte

In suche like godlye thynges".

And last of all, I youre poore man,

Whose doinges are full base,
Yet glad to do the best I can
To give unto your Grace,

Have thought it good now to recyte
The stories of the Actes

Even of the Twelve, as Luke doth wryte,
Of all their worthy factes.-

Unto the text I do not ad,

Nor nothyng take awaye;
And though my style be gros and bad,
The truth perceyve ye may.-

My callynge is another waye,

Your Grace shall herein fynde
By notes set forth to synge or playe,
To recreate the mynde.

And though they be not curious",
But for the letter mete;

Ye shall them fynde harmonious,
And eke pleasaunt and swete.

A young monarch singing the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES in verse to his lute, is a royal character of which we have seldom heard. But he proceeds,

That such good thynges your Grace might move
Your Lute when ye assaye,
In stede of songes of wanton love,
These stories then to play.

a Strype says, that "Sternhold composed several psalms at first for his own solace; for he set and sung them to his organ. Which music king Edward VI. sometime hearing, for he was a Gentleman of the privy-chamber, was much delighted with, them; which occasioned

his publication and dedication of them to
the said king." Eccles. Memor. B. i. ch.
2. 86.
P

That is, they are plain and unisonous ; the established character of this sort of music.

« PreviousContinue »