페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

of talents. He moves with equal cafe in every mode of compolition. His hymns and his ballads have the fame degree of merit; and whether his fubject be the life of a hermit, or a hero, of St Auftin or Guy of Warwick, ludicrous or legendary, a hiftory or an allegory, he writes with eafe and perfpicuity.'

The following lines of Lydgate found too modern for his age.

• Like as the dewe defcendeth on the rofe With filver drops.'

The verses, too, in which Lydgate defcribes the reign of Saturn, have much harmony, ftrength, and digni

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

6

It is unlucky that Lydgate's favourite ballad, entitled London Lick penny,' is too long to be inferted here. It gives a faithful picture of the metropolis in the 15th century. Among other circumstances, ftrawberries and cherries are fpoken of as being very common.

A bad feafon happening in 1434, wheat was fold as high as 21. 135. 4d. (modern money) per quarter. It foon fell to tos. 8d. which feems to have been nearly the medium price of that commodity-Chron. Pret.

Wine was then at the price of two modern fhillings per gallon.-Ibid.

In the fame year, licences were granted by the king to no lefs than 2433 pilgrims to vifit the thrine of St. James, at Compoftello.-Rym. Fad.

fa

hiring the mafter of a London merchant-hip to fail to Iceland, as his proxy, and to perform the neceffary vifitation of his fee; the good prelate dreading in perfon to encounter the boisterous northern ocean.- Rym. Fed.

In 1439, Philip Malpas and Robert Marshall, fheriffs of London, were obliged to restore an enormous criminal, whom they had torn from the fanctuary of St. Martin's Le Grand and fent to Newgate. It was not till 1457, that a check was given to thefe odious privileges.-Stow.

About this time it appears (says bishop Fleetwood) that a clergyman might be supported with decency for ten modern pounds per annum.— Chron. pret.

Twenty pounds per annum was in 1439, fettled by ftatute as the qualification for a country justice of the peace.-Pub. Alts.'

The order of viscounts was eftablished in 1440, by Henry VI. John lord Beaumont was the firft created. Selden.

Provifions fold thus, in 1444. Wheat per quarter, 8s. 8d. A fat ox, 31. 3s. 4d. A hog, 6s. A goofe, 6d. Pigeons 8d. the dozen, reckoned in modern money.-Chron. Pret.

In 1443, Dr Thomas Gafcoigne was chancellor of Oxford. He feems to have felt deeply the profligacy with which ecclefiaftical affairs were conducted, for thus does he express himfelf: I knew a certain illiterate ideot, the fon of a mad knight; who, for being the companion, or rather the fool of the fous of a great family of the royal blood, was made arch-deacon of Oxford before he was eighteen years old, and got, foon after, two rich rectories and twelve prebends. I asked him one day what he thought of learning? I defpife it,' faid he, 'I have better livings than you great doctors, and believe as much as any of you' What do you believe,' said

[merged small][ocr errors]

In 1436, we find the bishop of Hola in Iceland, whimsically enough

I. I believe,' faid he, that there are three Gods in one perfon. I believe all that God believes.'

In 1447, the freeholders of Yorkfhire regained their right of electing knights, which, for near forty years, had been ufurped.

About this time the following were the ufual wages of fervants, reckoned in the money of the age, which was exactly twice the weight of that in ufe in the eighteenth century.

Bailiff of hufbandry, 11. 3s. 4d. for wages yearly, befide his board, and 55. for clothes.

Common husbandmen, ijs. and board; 4s. for clothes.

Chief carter, 11. and diet; 45. for clothes.

Woman fervant, 10s. and diet; 4s. for clothes.-Chron. Pret.

In 1449 Henry IV. granted a protection to Robert Bolton, for tranfubftantiating imperfect metals into pure gold and filver, by the art or fcience of philofophy.-Rym. Fad.

Henry had indeed need of fome fuch helps, the crown- revenue in that year only producing 10,000 modern pounds.

In the fame year, hay fold at s. id. per load. A fwan 6s. a goofe 6d. Three thousand red herrings 31. 2s. all modern money.-Chron. Pret.

[merged small][ocr errors]

In 1454, an act of parliament notices That there had used formerly fix or eight attornies only, for Suffolk, Norfolk, and Norwich together; that this number was now increafed to more than eighty, moft part of whom, being not of fufficient knowledge, come to fairs, &c. inciting the people to fuits for small trefpaffes, &c. Wherefore there fhall be hereafter but fix for Suffolk, fix for Norfolk, and two for the city of Norwich.'Pub. Acts

The elections of the Lancaftrian parliament in 1459, had scarcely the femblance of decency. The members were pointed out by the king, in letters under the privy feal, and thefe the sheriffs returned. For this outrageous infult on the conftitution, an act of indemnity was obtained.-Parl. Hift.

In the reign of Henry VI. the commons exchanged their former meIn 1454, Sir Stephen Forfter was thod of petitioning the king, and halord-mayor of London. He had been ving their petitions formed into acts, long in prifon and penury, on account into the more manly plan of drawing of his inordinate profefenefs. It up their requests in the form of acts; Chanced that a most fantastical widow, which, having been approved of by who knew not how to get rid of her the Lords and confented to by the immense wealth, faw him begging at king, became firm laws.-Blackstone's the gate; the admired his fine perfon, Comm. learnt his hiftory, paid his debts, and married him; afking of him only this one favour, that he would lavish away her fortune as fast as he could. Forfter, probably from perverfenefs, became a fober husband and a prudent manager; and only expended large fums in adding a chapel and other advantageous appendages to Ludgate

[ocr errors]

Alt hiftorians feem to agree in affirming that in 1464, twenty ewes and five rams were from the Cotfwold-hills, in Gloucestershire tranf ported, by licence of the king, to Caftile; and that from these are defcended all thofe fheep who produce the fine wool of Spain.-Truffell, &c.

The tale is probably exaggerated,

yet

yet the English fheep might be of fervice in improving the Spanish breed. Anderfon.

In 1466, the falary of Thomas Lit telton, judge of the king's bench, amounted to 1361. 13s. 4d. modern money. Befide about 171. 7s. for his fur-gown, robes, &c. Rym. Fed.

The execrable practice of torture was now in its zenith of employment. We find Cornilius Shoemaker tormented by fire in 1468.-W.de Wyreftere.

In the tower there exifted a horrid brake,' or rack, called The duke of Exeter's daughter.'

Richard carter, an adept, received, in 1468, a licence to practife alchymy. Rym. Fad.

[ocr errors]

The fame date is also remarkable in the annals of literature for the introduction of printing into England by William Caxton. He was born in the Wealde,' of Kent, and served as an apprentice to Robert Large, an eminent mercer of London. He travelled abroad as an agent in the trading line during thirty years, and had the honour in being trufted, in concert with Mr R. Whetchill, to form a treaty of commerce, &c. between Edward IV. and the duke of Burgundy, whofe wife, the lady Margaret of York, was Caxton's patronefs. He was also befriended by the earl of Worcester and earl Rivers. He tranflated and continued, under the title of Fructus Temporum,' a chronicle of England, and wrote many other works. In 1491, he died and was buried at Cambden, Gloucestershire. At the clofe of an infcription, to Caxton's honour, are the following lines:

In 1468, the now opulent shires of Effex and Hertford were fo bare of substantial inhabitants, that the sheriff could find only Colchester and Mal. don in Effex, and not one town in Hertfordshire, which could fend burgeffes. Hence, and from other inftan-Modre of merci, fhylde him from th ces it appears, that it lay in the choice of the sheriff whether or no a town fhould fend any representative. Nor is there any inftance of complaint either of the House of Commons or of the towns against the sheriff for any partiality on this score.

In the fame year, many jurymen of London were openly difgraced; by being expofed in the public ftreets with papers on their heads declaring that they had been tampered with by the parties to the fuit.-Stow.

The year 1474 fhines in the re. cords of chirurgery as the epoch of a most important difcovery, that of lithotomy. A parifian archer, much tortured by the ftone and condemned to death for a capital offence, offered to fubmit to the experiment. It fucceeded; and his example tempted others to venture the operation. It does not however appear that during the fifteenth century the knowledge of this great fecret was extended beyond France. Monftrelet. Villaret.

orribul fyud,

And bring him lyffe eternal, that never hath ynd.

In the reign of Edward IV. the firft regular poet-laureat of England appears. His name was John Kay, and although he has left us none of his poetical compofitions, he has given to pofterity a tranflation of the fiege of Rhodes from the Latin ; this he dedicates to the king, and styles himfelfhys humble Poete Laureate.'

One fentiment, which appears in a commiffion granted by Henry VII.in 1486, to his almoner, whom he fent to Naples concerning a commercial treaty, deferves general approbation.

The earth being the common parent of us all, what can be more defirable and praifeworthy than, by means of commerce, to communicate her various productions to all her children" Rym. Fed.

An event, in 1493, evinced how little the vindictive fpirit of the feu

dal

dal times was fubdued. A family emulation had fubfifted between the Stanleys of Pipe, in Staffordshire, and the Chetwynds of Ingeftre. Sir Humphrey Stanley was one of the knights of the body to Henry VII; Sir William Chetwynd one of his gentlemen ufhers. The former, as it is faid, thro' envy, inveigled Sir William out of his houfe, by means of a counterfeit letter from a neighbour; and, while he was paffing over Tixal heath, caufed him to be attacked by twenty armed men and flain on the fpot; Sir Humphrey paffing with a train at that inftant, under pretence of hunting, but, in fact, to glut his revenge with the fight. It does not appear that juftice overtook the affaffin, notwithstanding the widow of Sir William invoked it. Probably Sir Humphrey had no fortune worthy of confifcation.--Pennant. In 1493 or 4, flourished Robert Fabian, who, though a mercer and sheriff of London, is ranged among the poets and hiftorians of the day. He was faid to be the most facetious and moft learned of the mercers and aldermen in his century; and remarkable among laymen for kill in the Latin tongue. Mr Warton obferves, that in his chronicle he paid more attention to the recording each Guildhall din ner, and city pageant, than to the most glorious victories of his countrymen in France. This was not unnatural.

[ocr errors]

{

Wheat fold, in 1494, at 6s. the quarter in London, a remarkably low price.-Chron. Pret.

In 1495, while digging a foundation for the church of St Maryhill, in London, the body of Alice Hackney was discovered; it had been bu ried 175 years, and yet the fkin was whole, and the joints pliable. It was kept above ground four days, without annoyance, and then re-interred. Holing fhed.

At this period hay, too, was fold at 10s. the load, on account of a fevere drought,

About this time (the beginning of the fixteenth century) there was a great marvel feen in Scotland. A bairn was born, reckoned to be a manchild, but from the waift up was twe fair perfons, with all members pertayning to two bodies; to wit, two heads, well-eyed, well-eared, and well-handed. The two bodies, the one's back was fast to the other's, but from the waist down they were but one perfonage; and it could not be known by the ingene of men from which of the two bodies the legs, &c. proceeded. Nothwithstanding, the king's majefty caused take great care and diligence on the up-bringing of both their bodies; caufed nourish them, and learn them to fing and play on inftruments of mufic. Who within fhort time became very ingenious and cunning in the art of mufic, whereby they could play and fing two parts, the one the treble, and the other the tenor, which was very dulce and melodious to hear; the common people (who treated them alfo) wondered that they could fpeak diverse and fundry languages, that is to fay Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Eng lifh, and Irish. Their two bodies long continued to the age of twenty-eight years, and the one departed long before the other, which was dolorous and heavy to the other; for which, when many required of the other to be merry, he answered, "How can I be merry which have my true marrow as a dead carrion about my back, which was wont to fing and play with me: when I was fad he would give me comfort, and I would do the like to him. But now I have nothing but dolour of the bearing fo heavy a bur den, dead, cold, and unfavoury, on my back, which taketh all earthly pleasure from me in this prefent life; therefore I pray to Almighty God to deliver me out of this prefent life, that we may be laid and diffolved in the earth, wherefrom we came,' &c. -Lindsay of Pitfcottie.

Buchanan,

. Buchanan, who relates the fame frange tale, avers that he received it from many honeft and credible perfons, who faw the prodigy with their own eyes.' He adds, that the two bodies difcovered different taftes and appetites; that they would frequently difagree and quarrel; and fometimes would confult each other, and concert measures for the good of both; that when any hurt was done to the lower parts, each upper body felt pain; but that when the injury was above the junction, then one body only was af. fected.

This monster (he writes) lived 28

years, but died wretchedly; one part expiring fome days before the other, which, half putrified, pined away by degrees.-History of Scotland.

In 1500, there was a great plague, which thewed its virulence chiefly in London, where 30,000 perfons are faid to have died within a short space of time.-Holingfhed.

In 1503, January 24, the firft ftone of Henry the feventh's chapel was laid. The fame year, Henry conferred the name of Merchant Taylors on the Taylor's company, of which he was a member, as many kings had been..

THE BAGPIPER: A FRAGMENT.
[Attempted after the Manner of Sterne.]

FROM THE TENTH NUMBER OF THE ORIENTAL HERMIT.

HAD juft quaffed my laft glafs of

mediately to leave the tavern, was going to raise out of my arm chair, when the notes of a Highland bagpipe faluted my ear, wild and rural indeed; but the notes, though wild and rural, were pleafing to my imagination, which they wafted in a moment from Calcutta to a Highland heath!

***

With my right elbow leaning on a table, and my right cheek fufpended on my right hand, after having liftened for fome time, to the tune of Over the hills and far awa,' in a kind of tranfport, impelled by curiofity, I gently raised my head to gaze at the mufician, who thus chanted His wood notes wild !-Philo Yorick! -the figure which then prefented itfelf to thy view, will not readily be effaced from thy remembrance-A Reynolds, indeed, might do it justice, yet, if thy pen but feebly attempts to do fo, the attempts, perhaps, may be pardoned.

He was a venerable figure, whofe face difcovered the roles of youth,

blushing among the forrows of old

tering ringlets down his neck, and reached forward half way over his brows, which rofe loftily above a pair of eyes, from which benignance delighted to glance, and which sparkled with youthful animation. Every feature of his face indeed, expreffed amiability, and almoft feemed to glow with transport and pleasure, while in a foreign land he played the antique tunes of his native country.

Thus far, Philo Yorick, thy foul was pleafed with a furvey of the venerable musician; till cafting a glance downward, and beholding he had loft a leg-fomething caufed a figh to rife from thy bofom, and a tear to fteal into thine eye.-The mufician, as he watched my motions, obferved this, his fingers and elbow forgot to move,-the notes of his pipes ceafed, and with a flow, modeft carriagehe approached me.

We gazed infenfibly at each other; fympathy-bleffed fympathy-caufed a fecond figh to escape my bofom, and another to rife from his :Young man, faid he, looking earneft

ly

« 이전계속 »