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Then fair, O fair his mind misgave,
And all his hart was wae :
Sa fast as ze can gae,
Put on, put on, my wighty men,
So falt as ze can drie;
Sall neir get guid o'mę.
Than fum they rade, and sum they rin,
Fou fast out-owre the bent; But eir the foremost could get up,
Baith lady and babes were brent..
He wrang his hands, he rent his hair,
And wept in teenefu' muid: O traitors, for this cruel deid
Ze fall weip teirs o' bluid.
And after the Gordon he is gane,
Sa faft as he micht drie;
He's wroken his dear ladie.
AN E L EGY
ON HENRY FOURTH EARL OF NORTH
As it was proposed to give specimens of the composition of most of our ancient poets, the reader has here an ELEGY of Skelton's; yet as this is forne little deviution from our plan, we chuse to throw it to the end of the First Book, though evidently written before some of the preceding.
The subject of this poem is the death of HENRY Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland, who fell a victim to the avarice of Henry VII. In 1489 the parliament bad granted the king a subsidy for carrying on the war in Bretagne. This tax was found so heavy in the North, that the whole country was in a flame. The E. of Northumberland, then lord lieutenant for Yorkshire, wrote to inform the king of the discontent, and praying an abatement. But nothing is so unrelenting as avarice : the king wrote back that not a penny Joould be abated. This message being delivered by the earl with too little caution, the populace rose, and supposing him to be the promoter of their calamity, broke into his house and murdered him with several of his attendants : who yet are charged by Skelton with being backward in their duty on this occasion. This melancholy event happened at the earl's seat at Cocklodge, near Thirske, in Yorkshire, April 28. 1489. See Lord Bacon, &c.
If the reader does not find much, poetical merit in this old poem (which zet is one of Skelton's best) he will see a friking 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 v. 32. 183. &c. Which however different from modern manners, was not unusual with our greater barons, whose cafles had all the splendour and ofices of a royal court, before the Laws against Retainers abridged and limited the number of their attendants.
John Skelton, who commonly fiyled himself Poet Laureat, died June 21. 1529. The following poem, which appears to have been written foon after the event, is printed from an anclent edition of his poems in bl. let. 12mo. 1568.It is addressed to Henry fifth earl of Northumberland, and is prefaced, &c. in the following manner :
Poeta Skelton Laureatus libellum fuum metrice
* * *
Ad dominum properato meum mea pagina Percy,
Cui Northumbrorum jura paterna gerit.
Quæque suo patri tristia justa
Fortunam, cuneta quæ male fida rotat.
Ad libitum cujus ipfe paratus ero.
SKELTON LAUREAT UPON THIE DOLOURS DETHE AND MUCH LAMENTABLE CHAUNCE OF THE MOST HONORABLE
ERLE OF NORTHUMBERLANDE,
Wayle, I wepe, I fobbe, I figh ful fore
The dedely fate, the dolefulle desteny
Of the bloud + royall descending nobelly ;
Whose lordshyp doutles, was flayne lamentably 5 Thorow treson again him compassed and wrought ;. Trew to his prince, in word, in dede, and thought.
Of hevenly poems, o Clyo calde by name
In the colege of musis goddess hyftoriall, Adres the to me, whiche am both halt I lame
In elect uteraunce to make memoryall :
To the for fouccour, to the for helpe I call Mine homely rudnes and dryghnes to expell With the freshe waters of Elyconys well.
Of noble actes aunciently enrolde,
Of famous pryncis and lordes of astate, By thy report ar wont to be extold,
Regeftringe trewly every formaré date ;
Of thy bountie after the usuall rate,
In sesons past who hath herde or sene
Of formar writyng by any presidente That vilane hastarddis in their furious tene,
Fulfylled with malice of froward entente, 25
Confetered togeder of common concente Falfly to flee theyr most singuler good lord ? It may be regittrede of shamefull recorde.
+ Henry, first E. of Northumberland, was begotten of Mary daughter to Henry E. of Lancajler, second son of K. Henry III.He was also lineally descended from Godfrey Duke of Brabant, son of the Emperour Charlemagne, by Gerberga niece to Loibar K. of France. See Cambden Brit.
So noble a man, fo valiaunt lord and knyght,
Fulfilled with honor, as all the world doth ken; 30 At his commaundement, which had both dayand nygbt
Knyghtes and fquyers, at every feafon when
He calde upon them, as meniall houshold men : Were not these commons uncurţeis karlis of kind To flo their own lord? God was not in their mynd. 35
And were not they to blame, I say also,
That were aboute him his owne servants of trust, To suffre him slayn of his mortall for
Fled away from hym, let hym ly in the daft:
They bode not till the rekening were discuft. 40 What thuld I flatter? what Muld I glose or paint ? Fy, fy for shame, their hartes were to faint.
In England and Fratnce, which gretly was redouted;
Of whom both Flaunders and Scotland ftode in drede; To whom great eftates obeyed and lowted ; -45
Amayny of rude villayns made hym for to blede:
Unkindly they flew him, that holp them oft at nede: He was their bulwark, their paves, and their wall, Yet hamfully they flew hym; that shame mot them befal.
I say, ye comoners, why wer ye fo Atark mad?
50 What frantyk frenfy fyll in your brayne ? Where was your wit and reson, ye should have had ?
What wilful 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.