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that can compensate for a father's attention and a mother's doating fondness.

It was with some such feeling that our young friend sat and gazed on the lock of hair resting in his hand. Was it a relic, the sole remaining memorial of his mother? or was it a braid from the rich tresses of one who had never heard his infant cry? What was there to solve the doubt ? nothing—absolutely nothing, save a never-to-be repressed instinctive yearning of the heart, which caused him involuntarily to raise the treasure to his lips, and immediately afterwards thrust it for security in his bosom.

Nothing that the young orphan could accomplish by his own exertions was left undone, in the hope of obtaining some development of the secret. The dwelling wherein Dr. Glitzom first found him, or rather the site whereon the old house stood, became his familiar resort, but the owner of the wretched lodging was either dead, or elsewhere located. New occupants tenanted the more modern buildings, and all clue from that quarter appeared cut off for ever.

Timidity and jealous apprehension forbade his openly seeking for information which, though so anxious to obtain, he invariaably pursued by the most circuitous mode. The result was that many who, from a personal regard towards himself, would willingly have exerted their energies in his behalf, were left in ignorance of his real wishes, owing to the disguised and ambiguous way in which his advances for assistance were made; and so little did he meet with calculated to encourage an extended confidence on the subject, that, excepting to Dr. Glitzom, the object which was ever uppermost in his thoughts never found utterance from his lips.

Mechanically he continued to perform the duties allotted to his station; but his mind, spurning all controul, wandered amid ideal hopes which there appeared but small probability of his ever realizing.

Thus rolled on the years of his boyhood; and it was not until fifteen summers had passed over his head since the day he had been rescued from penury by his benefactor, that any prospect of a change in his destiny was indicated ; but it was uot decreed that he should pass the remainder of his existence in the vicinity of the King's Bench, however advantageous his Æsculapian knowledge might eventually have become to that neighbourhood. But in order to trace how his emancipation came about, it will be necessary to refer to another and far different society, as will be made manifest by a perusal of the next chapter.




The halls are deserted, the echoes are sleeping,

That breath'd of the beautiful, told of the brave; The chill of despair round my lone heart is creeping,

Each blast of the breeze seems a voice from the grave. He fell on the battle-plain: she darkly slumbers,

But far from her Dermot, the lovely one lies;
I only am left, to awake the sad numbers,

And echo alone to my sorrow replies.
The chambers are lonely, the hearth is neglected,

No voice kindly welcomes the pilgrim at night ;.
No banquet is spread, for no guest is expected, -

They slumber in death, that made all things so bright:
The halls are deserted; the bard only lingers,

To pour out his griefs for the lovely and brave;
The proud battle-notes, that once thrilld to my fingers,

Are softened and changed to a dirge for the grave.

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“The reign of Henry the Seventh,” says Mr. D’Israeli in his Amenities of Literature, "was a misty morning of our vernacular literature, but it was the sunrise, and though the road be rough, we discover a few names by which we may begin to count, as we find on our way a mile-stone which, however rudely cut and worn,

to measure our distances," Amongst the writers during this and the succeeding reign,


none had more influence-no one is more worthy to be remembered for what Southey calls “ the power, the strangeness, the volubility of his language, the audacity of his satire, and the perfect originality of his manner,” than John Skelton. Our poet was born in Norfolk ;“ the time of his birth,” says Mr. Dyce, “which is left to conjecture, cannot well be carried back to an earlier period than 1460.” He appears to have studied both at Cambridge and Oxford. For some time, the fifth Earl of Northumberland, one of the most accomplished noblemen of that age, appears to have been his patron. In 1490, Skelton had acquired great reputation as a scholar, and had recently been laureated at Oxford. This is evideot from Caxton's preface to “the boke of Eneydos compyled by Vyrgule,” in which he thus writes.—" But I pray master John Skelton, late created poete laureate in the Vnyversite of Oxenforde, to oversee, and correct thys sayd boke, and t'addresse, and expowne where as shall be found faulte in them that shall requyre it. In him I knowe for suffycent to expowne and Englysshe every difficulty that is therein. For he hath late translated the Epistles of Tullye, and the boke of Dyodorus Syculus, and diverse other works out of Latyn into Englysshe, not in rude and olde language; but in polysshed and ornate termes craftely, as he that hath redde Vyrgyle, Ovyde, Tullye, and all the other noble poets and oratours to me unknowen. And also he hath redde the nine muses, and vnderstande their musicalle scyences, and to whome of theym each scyence is approved. I suppose he hath dronken of Elycous well.” In 1493, Shelton was admitted ad eundem at Cambridge, and from a reference of a later date, it appears that some distinction in dress was granted him by the king. It is probable, that he was poet laureate to the king, as well as a laureate of the universities of Oxford and Louvaine Skelton often styles himself orator regius, but the real nature of the office from which he derived his title, it is now we fear impossible to discover. In 1498, he took priests' orders, and it is probable that a little after this, he became tutor to Henry the Eighth, then Duke of York. Miss Agnes Strickland, referring to this fact, observes how probable it is that the corruption imparted by this ribald and ill-living wretch, laid the foundation for his royal pupil's grossest crimes.” Mr. Dyce remark on this most sapient conclusion, “When ladies attempt to write history, they sometimes say odd things.' Erasmus, a better judge of character than Miss Strickland, describes him as “ unum Britanicarum literarum lumen ac decus.

When Skelton became rector of Diss, in Norfolk, it is now impossible to ascertain. He certainly resided there in 1504,

Well may

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and was, nominally at least, rector at his decease. While resident there, he was suspended by his diocesan, "the bloody-minded and impure Richard Nix," as Mr. Dyce terms him, for being recently married. Fuller thus refers to his suspension. Dominican friars were the next he contended with, whose victiousness lay pat enough for his hand; but such foul lubbers fell heavy on all which found fault with them. These insti. gated Nix, Bishop of Norwich, to call him to account for keeping a concubine, which cost him (as it seems,) a suspension from his benefice.” On his death-bed, he declared that he considered her as his wife, but that such had been his cowardliness, that he chose rather to confess concubinage, than what was then reckoned more criminal in an ecclesiastic,-marriage. According to the “Merrie Tales” of Skelton, the encounter with the bishop was short, if not sweet. “Skel on," says the writer, “dyd take two capons to geve theym for a presente to the bishoppe. And as soon as he had saluted the bishoppe, he sayde, My lorde, here I have brought you a couple of capons.' The bishoppe was blynde, and sayd • Who are you?' 'I am Skelton,' sayd Skelton. The bishoppe sayd, ra hoare head, I will none of thy capons; thou keepest unhappy rule in thy house, for the whyche thou shalt be punished. What,' sayd Skelton, is the wynde at that dore ?' And sayde, God be with you my lorde ! And Skelton with his hys capons went hys way. The bishoppe sent after Skelton to come agayne. Skelton sayde, 'what shall I come agayne to speake with a madde man?" At last he retourned to the bishoppe, whyche sayd to him, 'I would sayd the bishoppe, that you should not lyve such a sclaunderous lyfe, that all your parisshe should not wonder and complayne on you as they dooe; I pray you amend, and hereafter lyve honestlye, that I heare no more wordes of you, and, you wyll tarrye dynner, you shall be welcome; and I thanke you,' sayd the bishoppe for your capons. Skelton sayd, my lorde, my capons have proper names; the one is named alpha, the other is named omega ; my lorde,' sayd Skelton,

thys capon is named alpha, thys is the first capon that I dyd ever geve to you; and thys capon is named omega, and thys is the last capon that ever I wyll geve you; and so fare you well, said Skelton." Upon Skelton's return, he on the following Sunday vigorously reproved his parishioners. “You have,” said he, “ Complayned of me to the bishoppe, that I dooe keep a fayre wenche in my house. I dooe tell you, if you had any fayre wyves, it were somewhat to helpe me at neede, I am a man as you be ; you have foul

wyves, and I have a fayre wenche of the whyche I have begotten a fayre boy, as I dooe thinke, and

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as you all shall see. Thou wyfe," sayd Skelton, “that hast my child, be not afraid, bring hyther my child to me;" the whyche was done. And he shewing his child naked to all the parishe sayd, “how say you neighbours all? is not this child as fayre as is the best of all yours? It hath nose, eyes, handes, and feet, as well as any of yours; it is not like a pyge, nor a calfe, nor like no fowl, no, nor monstrous beast. If I had,” sayd Skelton, “ broughte forth thys childe without armes or leyges, or that it were deformed, being a monstrous thyng, I would never have blamed you to have complayned to the bishop of me; but to complayne without a cause, I say as I have sayd before in my antethem vos estes, you be, and have be, and wyll, and shall be, knaves to complayn of me without a cause reasonable.” Skelton's ready wit acquired for him great popularity. He was the Joe Miller of his day. His merrie tales were often reprinted, as “very pleasaunt for the recre

very pleasaunt for the recreacion of the minde.” The two extracts we have given, are taken from them. Many of them now would be considered coarse; but nothing is more difficult, than deciding the merits or demerits of a writer, on the score of impropriety. Pope has the impudence to call Skelton beastly. Our reverend guardians of our national faith exclude Byron from our national Pantheon, and admit Prior! Skelton is not so open to the charge Pope brings against him, as Pope himself. Every man must be more or less modified by the age in which he lives. Skelton was a scholar and a clergyman, a poet and a wit; but he was no ascetic,-on the contrary, he lived much with his fellowmen, and was as gay and genial as if he had never worn the cassock. Many was the glass of ale, we doubt not, he drank from the fair hands of

Long Meg of Westminster,” and many was the good chorus in which he joined in that Eagle, which should be as dear to the student of literature, as the “Mermaid,” of a later day. Anthony Wood affirms that “ at Diss, and in the diocese, Skelton was esteemed more fit for the stage, than the pen or the pulpit; undoubtedly, there are ten

are temperaments that but illaccord with the conventional idea of the priestly office, and such a temperament, Skelton appears to have had; still he was far from being an evil living man. His aim in prose and verse was moral. He wrote against vice, and sought to reform the clergy, and did what Cranmer, even after the reformation had been partially begun, dared not do- live with his wife. Honour be given him for this---that he held the precepts of man against the eternal instincts of our nature, vain,-that he obeyed God rather than the Pope.

One or two of Skelton's merrie tales may even at this distant day an use the reader. The first is not bad; it is called,

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