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If the reader does not find much poetical merit in this old poem (which yet is one of Skelton's best,) he will see a striking picture of the state and magnificence kept up by our ancient nobility during the feudal times. This great earl is described here as having, among his menial servants, KNIGHTS, SQuires, and even BARONS: see ver. 132. 83. &c. which, however different from modern manners, was formerly not unusual with our greater Barons, whose castles had all the splendour and offices of a royal court, before the laws against retainers abridged and limited the number of their attendants.

JOHN SKELTON, who commonly styled himself Poet Laureat, died June 21, 1529. The following poem, which appears to have been written soon after the event, is printed from an ancient MS. copy preserved in the British Museum, being much more correct than that printed among SKELTON's Poems, in bl. let. 12mo. 1568.-It is addressed to Henry Percy, fifth earl of Northumberland, and is prefaced, &c. in the following manner:

Poeta Skelton Laureatus libellum suum metrice


Ad dominum properato meum mea pagina Percy,
Qui Northumbrorum jura paterna gerit,

Ad nutum celebris tu prona repone leonis,
Quæque suo patri tristia justa cano.

Ast ubi perlegit, dubiam sub mente volutet
Fortunam, cuncta quæ male fida rotat.
Qui leo sit felix, & Nestoris occupet annos;
Ad libitum cujus ipse paratus ero.





I wepe, I sobbe, I sigh ful sore The dedely fate, the dolefulle destenny Of him that is gone, alas! withoute restore,

Of the blode* royall descendinge nobelly;

Whos lordshepe doutles was slayne lamentably 5 Thorow treson ageyn hym compassyd and wrought; Trew to his prince, in word, in dede, and thought.

Of hevenly poems, O Clyo calde by name

In the college of musis goddess hystoriall,
Adres the to me, whiche am both halt and lame
In elect uteraunce to make memoryall:
To the for soccour, to the for helpe I call
Myne homely rudnes and drighnes to expelle
With the freshe waters of Elyconys welle.

Of noble actes auncyently enrolde,

Of famous princis and lordes of astate,
By thy report ar wonte to be extold,

Regestringe trewly every formare date;
Of thy bountie after the usuall rate,



Kyndle in me suche plenty of thy noblès,


Thes sorrowfulle dities that I may shew expres.

In sessons past who hathe harde or sene

Of formar writinge by any presidente

That vilane hastarddis in ther furious tene,

The mother of Henry, first Earl of Northumberland, was Mary daughter to Henry E. of Lancaster, whose father Edmond was second son of K. Henry III.-The mother and wife of the second Earl of Northumberland were both lineal descendants of K. Edward II.-The PERCYS also were lineally descended from the Emperor Charlemagne and the ancient Kings of France, by his ancestor Josceline du Lovain (son of Godfrey Duke of Brabant,) who took the name of PERCY on marrying the heiress of that house in the reign of Hen. II. Vid. Camden Britan. Edmondson, &c.

Fulfyld with malice of froward entente, Confeterd togeder of commoun concente Falsly to slo ther moste singular goode lorde? It may be registerde of shamefull recorde.


So noble a man, so valiaunt lorde and knight,
Fulfilled with honor, as all the worlde dothe ken; 30
At his commaundement, whiche had both day and night
Knyghtis and squyers, at every season when
He calde upon them, as menyall houshold men:
Were no thes commones uncurteis karlis of kynde 34
To slo their owne lorde ? God was not in their minde.

And were not they to blame, I say also,

That were aboute hym, his owne servants of trust, To suffre hym slayn of his mortall fo?

Fled away from hym, let hym ly in the dust:

They bode not till the rekening were discust. 40 What shuld I flatter? what shulde I glose or paynt? Fy, fy for shame, their harts wer to faint.

In Englande and Fraunce, which gretly was redouted; Of whom both Flaunders and Scotland stode in


To whome grete astates obeyde and lowttede ; 45

A mayny of rude villayns made him for to blede: Unkindly they slew hym, that holp them oft at nede: He was their bulwark, their paves, and their wall, Yet shamfully they slew hym; that shame mot them befal.

I say, ye commoners, why wer ye so stark mad ? 50 What frantyk frensy fyll in youre brayne ? Where was your wit and reson, ye shuld have had ? What willfull foly made yow to ryse agayne

Your naturall lord ? alas! I can not fayne.
Ye armed you with will, and left your wit behynd; 55
Well may you be called comones most unkynd.

He was your chyfteyne, your shelde, your chef defence,
Redy to assyst you in every tyme of nede:
Your worship depended of his excellence:
Alas! ye mad men, to far ye did excede :

Your hap was unhappy, to ill was your spede :

What movyd you agayn hym to war or to fight?
What aylde you to sle your lord agyn all right?



The grounde of his quarel was for his sove reyn lord
The welle concernyng of all the hole lande,
Demaundyng soche dutyes as nedis most acord
To the right of his prince which shold not be with-


For whos cause ye slew hym with your awne hande: But had his nobill men done wel that day,

Ye had not been hable to have saide him nay.


But ther was fals packinge, or els I am begylde:
How-be-it the matter was evident and playne,
For yf they had occupied ther spere and ther shelde,
This noble man doutles had not be slayne.
Bot men say they wer lynked with a double chayn.

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And held with the commouns under a cloke, Whiche kindeled the wyld fyre that made all this smoke.

The commouns renyed ther taxes to pay

Of them demaunded and asked by the kinge; With one voice importune, they plainly said nay: 80 They buskt them on a bushment themself in baile to bringe :

Agayne the kings plesure to wrastle or to wringe Bluntly as bestis withe boste and with cry They saide, they forsede not, nor carede not to dy.

The noblenes of the northe this valiant lorde and 85


As man that was innocent of trechery or trayne, Presed forthe boldly to witstand the myght,

And, lyke marciall Hector, he fauht them agayne, Vigorously upon them with myght and with mayne, Trustinge in noble men that wer with hym there: 90 Bot all they fled from hym for falshode or fere.

Barons, knights, squyers, one and alle,

Togeder with servaunts of his famuly,

Turnd their backis, and let ther master fall,
Of whos [life] they counted not a flye;
Take up whos wolde for them, they let hym ly.

Alas! his golde, his fee, his annuall rente
Upon suche a sort was ille bestowde and spent.


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