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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.

[Percy does not do justice to Skelton's poetical powers in the above note, as this Elegy is written in a style not at all characteristic of him and is also far from being one of his best poems. Skelton was one of the earliest personal satirists in our language, and he flew at high game when he attacked the powerful Wolsey with fierce invective, in his "Why come ye nat to courte ?" His Boke of Phyllyp Sparrowe is described by Coleridge as "an exquisite and original poem," and its subject entitles him to the designation of the modern Catullus. It was very popular in his day, and the nursery rhyme of Who killed Cock robin? was probably paraphrased from the portion of the poem in which the funeral of the sparrow is related. Skelton was a distinguished scholar and his earlier poems are written in the serious strain of the Elegy, but curiously enough about the time that he took orders (1498) and became rector of Diss in Norfolk, he began to write in a more natural, frolicsome and satirical vein, and adopted the metre now known as Skeltonian. He was not very particular as to the words he used, but he does not deserve the opprobrious epithet that Pope applies to him in the couplet

"Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learned by rote,
And beastly Skelton heads of houses quote."

Skelton graduated as poet laureate at the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the King allowed him to wear an appropriate decoration at court. There is a full length portrait of the poet in Brydges' British Bibliographer (vol. iv. p. 389), taken from one on the back of the title of A ryght delectable tratyse upon a goodly Garlande or Chaplet of Laurell by Mayster Skelton, Poete laureat.

The Rev. Alexander Dyce published the first complete collected edition of Skelton's Poetical Works in 1843 (2 vols. 8vo.)]


WAYLE, 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 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,3 By thy report ar wonte to be extold,



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 III.-The Percys also were lineally descended from the Emperour Charlemagne and the ancient Kings of France, by his ancestor Josceline de 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.

[1 against.

2 Helicons.

3 estate.]

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 sesons past who hathe harde or sene
Of formar writinge by any presidente
That vilane hastarddis" in ther furious tene,3
Fulfyld with malice of froward entente,
Confeterd* togeder of commoun concente
Falsly to slo3 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 To slo theirownelorde? God was not in their minde. 35

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. What shuld I flatter? what shulde I glose" or paynt? Fy, fy for shame, their harts wer to faint.

In Englande and Fraunce, which gretlywas redouted;" Of whom both Flaunders and Scotland stode in





To whome grete astates obeyde and lowttede ;1o
A mayny11 of rude villayns made him for to blede:
Unkindly they slew hym, that holp them oft at nede:

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He was their bulwark, their paves,' and their wall, Yet shamfully they slew hym; that shame mot' them


I say, ye commoners, why wer ye so stark mad? 50
What frantyk frensy fyll3 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 sovereyn 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,75 And held with the commouns under a cloke,

Whiche kindeled the wyld fyre that made all this


[1 large shield.
5 honour.


3 fell.
• false dealing.

4 against.
7 used.]

The commouns renyed1 ther taxes to pay

Of them demaunded and asked by the kinge; With one voice importune, they playnly said nay: so They buskt them on a bushment' themself in baile3 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


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,
Turnid 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.

He was envyronde aboute on every syde


Withe his enemys, that were stark mad and



Yet whils he stode he gave them woundes wyde: Alas for routhe !9 what thouche his mynde were


His corage manly, yet ther he shed his bloode! All left alone, alas! he fawte in vayne;

For cruelly amonge them ther he was slayne.

2 they prepared themselves for an ambush.
4 contend.
6 heeded.

[1 refused.

3 trouble. 8 wild.

9 pity.]

• pride.

7 set.


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