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John Heywood died at Mechlin in Brabant about the year 1565*. He was inflexibly attached to the catholic cause, and on the death of queen Mary quitted the kingdom. Antony Wood remarks", with his usual acrimony, that it was a matter of wonder with many, that, considering the great and usual want of principle in the profession, a poet should become a voluntary exile for the sake of religion.
Sir Thomas More's English Poetry.
Tournament of Tottenham. Its and scope. Laurence Minot. Alliteration. Digression illustrating comparatively the language of the fifteenth century, by a specimen of the Metrical Armoric Romance of Ywayn and Gawayn.
I KNOW not if sir Thomas More may properly be considered as an English poet. He has, however, left a few obsolete poems, which although without any striking merit, yet, as productions of the restorer of literature in England, seem to claim some notice here. One of these is, A MERY JEST how a SERGEANT would learne to play the FREERE. Written by Maister Thomas More in hys youth. The story is too dull and too long to be told here. But I will cite two or three of the prefatory stanzas.
And an olde trot, that can, got wot,
The wayes to bye and sell,
His money cleane away;
Whan an hatter wyll go smatter
Or a pedlar waxe a medlar
In these lines, which are intended to illustrate, by familiar examples, the absurdity of a serjeant at law assuming the business of a friar, perhaps the reader perceives but little of that festivity, which is supposed to have marked the character and the conversation of sir Thomas More. The last two stanzas deserve to be transcribed, as they prove, that this tale was designed to be sung to music by a minstrel, for the entertainment of company.
This piece is mentioned, among other popular story-books in 1575, by Laneham, in his ENTERTAINMent at Killingworth Castle in the reign of queen Elisabeth.
In CERTAIN METERS, written also in his youth, as a prologue for his BOKE OF FORTUNE, and forming a poem of considerable length, are these stanzas, which are an attempt at personification and imagery. FORTUNE is represented sitting on a lofty throne, smiling on all man
e Fol. 44. seq.
kind, who are gathered around her eagerly expecting a distribution of her favours.
Then, as a bayte, she bryngeth forth her ware,
Fast by her syde doth wery Labour stand,
Another of sir Thomas More's juvenile poems is, A RUFUL LAMENTACION on the death of queen Elisabeth, wife of Henry the Seventh, and mother of Henry the Eighth, who died in childbed, in 1503. It is evidently formed on the tragical soliloquies, which compose Lydgate's paraphrase of Boccace's book DE CASIBUS VIRORUM ILLUSTRIUM, and which gave birth to the MIRROR FOR MAGISTRATES, the origin of our historic dramas. These stanzas are part of the queen's complaint at the approach of death.
Where are our castels now, where are our towers?
Myne owne dere lorde, now shall I never see!
God wotte, full oft it greved hath my mynde
f Ibid. Sign. T vi.
the palace of Richmond.
h Henry VII.'s chapel, begun in the year 1502, the year before the queen died.
i Married in 1503 to James the Fourth, king of Scotland.
* Margaret countess of Richmond.
Farewell my doughter Katharine, late the fere
Adew lord Henry, my lovyng sonne adew m,
In the fourth stanza she reproaches the astrologers for their falsity in having predicted that this should be the happiest and most fortunate year of her whole life. This, while it is a natural reflection in the speaker, is a proof of More's contempt of a futile and frivolous science, then so much in esteem. I have been prolix in my citation from this forgotten poem: but I am of opinion that some of the stanzas have strokes of nature and pathos, and deserved to be rescued from total oblivion.
More, when a young man, contrived in an apartment of his father's house a goodly hangyng of fyne paynted clothe, exhibiting nine pageants, or allegoric representations, of the stages of man's life, together with the figures of Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. Under each picture he wrote a stanza. The first is under CHILDHODE, expressed by a boy whipping a top.
I am called CHYLDHOD, in play is all my mynde,
Were in a fyre brent to pouder small!
Next was pictured MANHOD, a comely young man mounted on a fleet horse, with a hawk on his fist, and followed by two greyhounds, with this stanza affixed.
MANHOD I am, therefore I me delyght
To hunt and hawke, to nourishe up and fede
The grayhounde to the course, the hawke to th' flyght,
These thynges become a very man in dede.
1 Catharine of Spain, wife of her son prince Arthur, now dead.
Afterwards king Henry the Eighth. "Afterwards queen of France. Remarried to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. • The queen died within a few days VOL. III.
after she was delivered of this infant, the
P Workes, ut supr.
q a quoit.
a stick for throwing at a cock. Stele is handle, Sax.
Yet thynketh this boy his pevishe game sweter,
The personification of FAME, like RUMOUR in the Chorus to Shakspeare's HENRY THE FOURTH, is surrounded with tongues".
Tapestry, with metrical legends illustrating the subject, was common in this age; and the public pageants in the streets were often exhibited with explanatory verses. I am of opinion, that the COMŒDIOLÆ, or little interludes, which More is said to have written and acted in his father's house, were only these nine pageantst.
Another juvenile exercise of More in the English stanza, is annexed to his prose translation of the LIFE of John Picus Mirandula, and entitled, TWELVE RULES OF JOHN PICUS EARLE OF MIRANDULA, partely exciting, partely directing a man in SPIRITUAL BATAILE". The old collector of his ENGLISH WORKES has also preserved two shorte ballettes, or stanzas, which he wrote for his pastyme, while a prisoner in the Tower*.
It is not my design, by these specimens, to add to the fame of sir Thomas More; who is reverenced by posterity, as the scholar who taught that erudition which civilised his country, and as the philosopher who met the horrours of the block with that fortitude which was equally free from ostentation and enthusiasm: as the man, whose genius overthrew the fabric of false learning, and whose amiable tranquillity of temper triumphed over the malice and injustice of tyranny.
To some part of the reign of Henry the Eighth I assign the TOURNAMENT OF TOTTENHAM, or The wooeing, winning, and wedding of TIBBE the Reeves Daughter there. I presume it will not be supposed to be later than that reign: and the substance of its phraseology, which I divest of its obvious innovations, is not altogether obsolete enough for a higher period. I am aware, that in a manuscript of the British Museum it is referred to the time of Henry the Sixth. But that manuscript affords no positive indication of that date. It was published