Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

vexation and shame more on the truly venerable and pious Reformers.

The reader will remark the fondness of our satirist for alliteration in this he was guilty of no affectation or singularity; his versification is that of Pierce Plowman's Visions, in which a recurrence of similar letters is essential: to this he has only superadded rhyme, which in his time began to be the general practice. See an Essay on this very peculiar kind of metre, in the appendix to this Volume.

N december, when the dayes draw to be short,

After november, when the nights wax noy-
some and long;

As I past by a place privily at a port,
I saw one sit by himself making a song:
His last talk of trifles, who told with his tongue
That few were fast i'th' faith. I 'freyned't that freake,1
Whether he wanted wit, or some had done him wrong.
He said, he was little John Nobody, that durst not

speake.

John Nobody, quoth I, what news? thou soon note and tell

What maner men thou meane, thou are so mad. He said, These gay gallants, that wil construe the

gospel,

As Solomon the sage, with semblance full sad;
To discusse divinity they nought adread;

More meet it were for them to milk kye at a fleyke.2
Thou lyest, quoth I, thou losel,3 like a leud lad.
He said, he was little John Nobody, that durst not
speake.

[blocks in formation]

Its meet for every man on this matter to talk,
And the glorious gospel ghostly to have in mind;
It is sothe said, that sect but much unseemly skalk,
As boyes babble in books, that in scripture are
blind:

Yet to their fancy soon a cause will find;
As to live in lust, in lechery to leyke:1
Such caitives count to be come of Cains kind;
But that I little John Nobody durst not speake.

For our reverend father hath set forth an order,
Our service to be said in our seignours tongue;
As Solomon the sage set forth the scripture;
Our suffrages, and services, with many a sweet song,
With homilies, and godly books us among,
That no stiff, stubborn stomacks we should freyke :2
But wretches nere worse to do poor men wrong;

But that I little John Nobody dare not speake.

For bribery was never so great, since born was our Lord,

And whoredom was never les hated, sith Christ harrowed 3 hel,

3

And poor men are so sore punished commonly through the world,

That it would grieve any one, that good is, to hear

tel.

For al the homilies and good books, yet their hearts be so quel,*

That if a man do amisse, with mischiefe they wil him wreake;"

Ver. 3. Cain's kind.] So in Pierce the Plowman's Creed, the proud friars are said to be

"Of Caymes kind."-Vid. Sig. C ii. b.

2 humour.

['play.
pursue revengefully.]

3 harassed.

4 cruel.

The fashion of these new fellows it is so vile and fell: But that I little John Nobody dare not speake. Thus to live after their lust, that life would they have, And in lechery to leyke al their long life ;

For al the preaching of Paul, yet many a proud knave Wil move mischiefe in their mind both to maid and

wife

To bring them in advoutry,' or else they wil strife, And in brawling about baudery, Gods command

ments breake:

But of these frantic il fellowes, few of them do thrife;
Though I little John Nobody dare not speake.
If thou company with them, they wil currishly carp,2
and not care

According to their foolish fantacy; but fast wil they naught :

Prayer with them is but prating; therefore they it

forbear:

Both almes deeds, and holiness, they hate it in their thought:

Therefore pray we to that prince, that with his bloud us bought,

That he wil mend that is amiss: for many a manful freyke3

Is sorry for these sects, though they say little or

nought;

And that I little John Nobody dare not once speake. Thus in No place, this NOBODY, in no time I met, Where NO man, 'ne'* NOUGHT was, nor NOTHING did

appear;

Through the sound of a synagogue for sorrow I swett, That Aeolus't through the eccho did cause me to

[blocks in formation]

Then I drew me down into a dale, whereas the dumb

deer

Did shiver for a shower; but I shunted' from a freyke: For I would no wight in this world wist who I were, But little John Nobody, that dare not once speake.

IV.

Q. ELIZABETH'S VERSES, WHILE PRISONER AT WOODSTOCK,

WRIT WITH CHARCOAL ON A SHUTTER,

RE preserved by Hentzner, in that part of his Travels which has been reprinted in so elegant a manner at Strawberry-hill. In Hentzner's book they were wretchedly corrupted, but are here given as amended by his ingenious editor. The old orthography, and one or two ancient readings of Hentzner's copy, are here restored.

H, Fortune! how thy restlesse wavering

state

Hath fraught with cares my troubled
witt!

Witnes this present prisonn, whither fate
Could beare me, and the joys I quit.

[ocr errors]

Ver. 4. "Could beare," is an ancient idiom, equivalent to "did bear or "hath borne." See below the Beggar of Bednal Green, Book 2, No. x. v. 57. "Could say."

[' shunned.]

Thou causedest the guiltie to be losed
From bandes, wherein are innocents inclosed:
Causing the guiltles to be straite reserved,
And freeing those that death had well deserved.
But by her envie can be nothing wroughte,
So God send to my foes all they have thoughte.

A.D. MDLV.

ELIZABETHE, PRISONNER.

5

10

V.

THE HEIR OF LINNE.

HE original of this ballad is found in the Editor's folio MS., the breaches and defects in which rendered the insertion of supplemental stanzas necessary. These, it is hoped, the reader will pardon, as indeed the completion of the story was suggested by a modern ballad on a similar subject.

From the Scottish phrases here and there discernible in this poem, it should seem to have been originally composed beyond the Tweed.

The Heir of Linne appears not to have been a Lord of Parliament, but a Laird, whose title went along with his estate.

[In the folio MS. Percy wrote the following note: "This old copy (tho' a very indifferent fragment) I thought deserving of some attention. I have therefore bestowed an entire revisal of the subject for my Reliques, &c." In this revisal, the Bishop swelled out the 125 lines of the original into the 216 of his own version. It has, therefore, been necessary to print a copy of the original at the end of the present ballad. The modern ballad referred to above is the Drunkard's Legacy, printed in J. H. Dixon's Ballads of the Peasantry, but it is only comparatively modern, as it dates back to a period long before Percy's time. The portion which Percy interpolated and took from this ballad, forms the end of the first part and beginning of the second part of the following version. The incident by which the hidden treasure is discovered occurs in one of the stories of Cinthio's Heccatomithi (Dec. ix. Nov. 8), but the arguments of the two tales are in other respects different.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »