Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Skelton, John (1460?-1529)

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SKELTON, JOHN (1460?–1529), poet, born about 1460, seems to have been a native of Norfolk. An elder branch of the Skelton family was settled in Cumberland. Blomefield's statement that the poet was born at Diss, where he was afterwards beneficed, and that he was son of William Skelton whose will was proved at Norwich on 7 Nov. 1512 by Margaret, his wife, is ill supported. William Skelton's will makes no mention of a son John, and the name of the poet's mother seems to have been Johanna or Joan. John claims to have been educated at both Oxford and Cambridge, and he wrote of both universities with affection. He is probably identical with the ‘one Scheklton’ who, according to Cole (in his manuscript Athenæ Cantabr.), graduated M.A. at Cambridge in 1484.

On 9 Dec. 1472, and on 23 Feb. 1473, one John Skelton, who was, like the poet, of a Norfolk family, received payment of forty shillings from the exchequer in the capacity of under-clerk. But chronology does not permit the poet's identification with the under-clerk, who was subsequently knighted (cf. Letters and Papers, &c., of Henry VIII, iv. pt. i. No. 1235, v. No. 166).

Skelton was from youth a close student of the classics and of current French literature, and, while still associated with the university, apparently of Oxford, translated ‘out of fresshe Latine’ Cicero's ‘Letters’ and the history of Diodorus Siculus in six volumes (cf. Dyce, i. 420–1). The former is not known to be extant. The latter remains among Archbishop Parker's MSS. at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (No. ccclvii.; Nasmith, Catalogue, p. 362). In 1490 Caxton, while noticing these translations in the preface to his ‘Boke of Eneydos compyled by Vyrgyle,’ appealed to Skelton to correct that work, and described him as ‘late created poet laureate in the university of Oxford.’ That title seems to have been a merely academical honour, bestowed, together with a wreath of laurel, on any graduate who had especially distinguished himself in rhetoric and poetry. Skelton subsequently asserted that he received the degree by the unanimous vote of the senate (Against Garnesche). Soon afterwards a similar honour was conferred on him in partibus transmarinis—at Louvain, according to his panegyrist, Robert Whittington (Opusculum Roberti Whittintoni, 1519); but the registers of Louvain University fail to report the circumstance. In 1493 Skelton was admitted to the same title by the university of Cambridge.

At an early age Skelton began writing verse in honour of the royal family or of members of the nobility. An attractive English poem on the death of Edward IV in 1483, with a Latin refrain, is probably his earliest extant composition, and he may be the author of verses presented to Henry VII at Windsor in 1488 (cf. Ashmole, Garter, p. 594; Dyce, ii. 388). In 1489 he produced an elegy on the death of Henry Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland, who was killed by rebels in Yorkshire on 28 April 1489 (cf. reprint in Percy's Reliques, ed. Wheatley, i. 117 sq.)—a tragedy which also evoked a poem from Bernard André. The earl's son, Henry Algernon Percy, fifth earl, to whom the elegy was dedicated, subsequently proved a generous patron. When Prince Arthur was created Prince of Wales in 1489 Skelton celebrated the event in a composition called ‘Prince Arturis Creacyoun,’ of which only the title remains. Again, in 1494, when Henry (afterwards Henry VIII) was made Duke of York, Skelton offered his congratulations in a Latin poem, the manuscript of which was seen by Tanner in the library of Lincoln Cathedral, but cannot now be traced. There is a likelihood that Skelton wrote the long poetic epitaph on the king's uncle, Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke, who died in 1495 (Dyce, ii. 388). The king's mother, the Countess of Richmond, who interested herself in literature, is believed to have noticed Skelton approvingly, and for her he translated ‘Of Mannes Lyfe the Peregrynacioun,’ a rendering (now lost) of Deguilleville's prose ‘Pelerinage de la Vie Humaine,’ on which Lydgate had already tried his hand. A sympathetic elegy on Henry VII in 1509 may also be assigned to Skelton's pen (ib. ii. 399).

Skelton's literary energy was rewarded by his appointment, before the end of the fifteenth century, as tutor to Henry VII's second son, Prince Henry (afterwards Henry VIII), born in 1491. Skelton claims to have taught his pupil to spell, and to have introduced him for the first time to the ‘Muses Nine.’ For him he wrote ‘Speculum Principis,’ which he describes as a treatise on the demeanour of a prince. This work was probably identical with ‘Methodos Skeltonidis Laureati (sc. Præcepta quædam moralia Henrico principi postea Henr. VIII missa) Dat. apud Eltham A.D. MDI,’ a mutilated copy of which was in Tanner's days in the Lincoln Cathedral Library. When Erasmus, in 1500, dedicated to Prince Henry his ode ‘De Laudibus Britanniæ,’ he mentioned Skelton as a member of the prince's household and as ‘a light and ornament of British literature.’

According to Churchyard, Skelton was ‘seldom out of princis grace,’ but on 10 June 1502 one John Skelton was committed to prison by order of the king in council, and in the same year a widow named Joan Skelton, believed to be the poet's mother, was fined 3l. 6s. 8d. for an unspecified offence. Skelton was no conventional courtier, and from the first avowed his contempt for the insincerities of court life. His plain speaking may account for a temporary fall from favour. Among his early poems of note was one entitled ‘The Bowge of Court’ (i.e. the ‘bouche’ of court, or the right to rations at the king's table), in which seven sins incident to the atmosphere of the court were depicted allegorically. Signs are not wanting that Skelton owed many hints for this poem to Alexander Barclay's version of Sebastian Brandt's ‘Narren-Schiff,’ short extracts from which he paraphrased in prose in his ‘Boke of Three Fooles’ (Works, i. 199 seq.; Herford, Literary Relations of England and Germany, pp. 350 seq.). But, despite Skelton's frankness, Henry VII fully recognised his abilities, and marked his appreciation of his poetic skill by bestowing on him a dress, apparently of white and green, on which was embroidered, in letters of silk and gold, the word ‘Calliope’ (Works, ed. Dyce, i. 197–8).

In 1504–5 the university of Cambridge again granted to Skelton the rank of laureate, with permission to wear the dress given him by the king. Some doubt rests on the frequently repeated statement that Skelton was officially nominated poet-laureate not only at the universities, but at the court either by Henry VII or by his son, the poet's pupil. Skelton described himself repeatedly both as poet laureate and as ‘regius orator.’ The historian Carte is said to have sent to the Abbé du Resnel, author of ‘Recherches sur les Poètes Couronnez’ (1736), a copy of a patent dated the fifth year of Henry VIII's reign (1513–14), in which Skelton was described as poet laureate of the king. No known official record of the date mentions the office. It seems to have been in any case a titular and honorary dignity.

Meanwhile, in 1498, Skelton was admitted to holy orders, with a title from the Abbey of St. Mary of Graces near the Tower of London. In 1504, as ‘Master John Skelton, laureat, parson of Diss in Norfolk,’ he witnessed a parishioner's will. It is doubtful if he were often in residence at the rectory at Diss, but he apparently held the benefice till his death. Although his absence from London was only occasional, he was no longer in constant attendance at the court, and henceforth his verse took a wider range. Not till he was instituted to his rectory does he appear to have adopted (possibly from the French) the irregular metre of short rhyming lines which is chiefly identified with his name. He first employed it in a playful ‘Boke of Phylyp Sparowe,’ in which Jane Scrope, a pupil of the Black Nuns at Carrow, near Norwich, laments in half-burlesque fashion the slaughter of a pet sparrow by a cat. The poem immediately won popularity. The nursery rhyme ‘Who killed Cock Robin?’ is possibly an adaptation of Skelton's account of the sparrow's funeral. The whole topic may have been suggested by Catullus's famous dirge on a sparrow's death (‘Luctus in morte passeris’). ‘Ware the Hauke’ was a savage attack on ‘a lewde curate and parson benefyced’ who went hawking in Skelton's church at Diss, and in an extant ‘epitaph of two knaves,’ written partly in Latin and partly in English, Skelton scurrilously assailed the memory of two of his parishioners. To this ‘epitaph’ was appended the statement that it was copied out by the curate of Trumpington on 5 Jan. 1517, the sole foundation for the suggestion that Skelton was himself beneficed at Trumpington. He speaks of himself as for many years a welcome visitor at the well-ordered college of the Bonhommes at Ashridge, near Berkhampstead (cf. Dyce, i. 419). But there is no reason to contest Wood's statement that ‘at Diss and in the diocese Skelton was esteemed more fit for the stage than the pew or pulpit.’ Many stories were current of the irregularity of Skelton's life in Norfolk and elsewhere, and of his buffoonery as a preacher. It seems undoubted that he was called to account by Richard Nix, the bishop of Norwich, for living at Diss in concubinage with a woman by whom he had many children. It was said that when his parishioners complained to the bishop that he was father of a boy recently born in his house, he confessed the fact in the pulpit next Sunday, and, exhibiting the naked child to the congregation, asked them what fault they had to find with the infant, who, he declared, was ‘as fair as is the best of all yours.’ The charge was brought, he complained, through the hostility of the Dominicans, with whom he was always out of sympathy. Towards the end of his life he stated that he was lawfully married to the woman with whom he lived, but that he had been too cowardly to plead the circumstance in his defence.

An uncontrollable satiric temper is the chief characteristic of Skelton's poetry, and the self-indulgent clergy and laity alike came incessantly under the lash of his biting verse. But his royal patrons were only displeased when they themselves were the objects of his satire. No less than four poems directed ‘against Garnesche,’ i.e. Sir Christopher Garnesche or Garneys [q. v.], a gentleman usher to Henry VIII, were written, according to his own account, by the king's command. Sir Christopher challenged Skelton to the contest, which seems to have resembled the literary encounters which were familiar among the Scottish poets Dunbar and Kennedy, the Italian poets Luigi Pulci and Matteo Franco, and the French poets Sagon and Marot. Garneys's contributions are not extant. Skelton's four poems are full of angry personal abuse. Among Skelton's lost works was ‘The Recule ageinst Gaguyne,’ that is an attack on the French scholar, Robert Gaguin, who had, he says, frowned on him ‘full angerly and pale;’ while Bale notices an invective (now lost) against William Lily, who retorted in some extant hendecasyllabics impugning Skelton's title to be regarded either as a poet or a man of learning (cf. Camden, Magna Britannia, s.v. ‘Diss’). Skelton also incurred the enmity of Alexander Barclay, who enumerated Skelton's ‘Phylyp Sparowe’ among the ‘follies’ noticed at the end of his ‘Ship of Fools;’ Barclay renewed the attack in his fourth eclogue.

Despite Skelton's bitter tongue, many noble patrons remained faithful to him till the end. The Countess of Surrey (Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Edward, third duke of Buckingham [q. v.], second wife of Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, and mother of Surrey the poet) was one of his latest admirers. In her train he seems to have visited Sheriff-Hutton Castle, then the residence of her father-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk. At the suggestion of the countess a party of ladies made and presented to the poet a garland of laurel. The compliment inspired Skelton to compose, mainly in Chaucerian stanza, the most elaborate of his pieces, which he entitled ‘The Garlande of Laurell.’ It is largely allegorical, but supplies a catalogue of Skelton's favourite authors, who included, besides the chief classical writers, Poggio, Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate. The poem's main aim was to glorify the author, of whose works it set forth a long list. A coarser effort in humour was devised for the delectation of Henry VIII and his courtiers. It was called ‘The Tunnynge [i.e. brewing] of Elynour Rummyng,’ and describes in Skeltonian metre the drunken revels of poor women who frequented an alehouse kept by Elynour Rummyng on a hill by Leatherhead, within six miles of the royal palace of Nonsuch. Skelton is said to have fashioned this coarse production on a poem by Lorenzo de' Medici (Spence, Anecdotes, p. 173). About 1516 he wrote an attractive ‘lawde and prayse’ of Henry VIII, of which the manuscript, beginning ‘The Rose both white and rede,’ is in the Record Office (Dyce, i. ix; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 1518).

Skelton at length invited an encounter which ended in fatal disaster. In the early years of Henry VIII's reign he enjoyed the patronage of Wolsey as well as of the king. To the cardinal he dedicated in obsequious terms ‘A Replycacion agaynst certayne yong scolers,’ where he attacked students of Cambridge for arrogant criticism of currently accepted theology. ‘An Envoy to the Garland of Laurel’ was addressed to both king and cardinal. ‘The envoy’ of another poem on the Duke of Albany's unsuccessful raid on the borders in 1523 was similarly inscribed to ‘My Lord Cardinal's right noble grace,’ while the ‘Three Fools,’ according to the full title, was presented to Wolsey. But Skelton's attitude to the cardinal was only speciously complacent. The cardinal probably scorned his advances. Anyhow, Skelton soon found in the cardinal's triumphant career a tempting target for his satiric shafts.

The chronicler Hall relates that when, in 1522, Wolsey, in the exercise of his legatine power, dissolved the convocation summoned to St. Paul's by the archbishop of Canterbury (Warham), and ordered it to meet him at Westminster, Skelton circulated the couplet—

    Gentle Paul, laie doune thy sweard,
    For Peter of Westminster hath shauen thy beard.

In his ‘Colyn Cloute,’ written throughout in what Bishop Hall, a later satirist, called his ‘breathless rhymes,’ Skelton incidentally attacked Wolsey while satirising the corruptions of the church. Every obstacle was placed in the way of the publication of the piece, but these were overcome, and many copies were circulated. In ‘Why come ye not to court?’ (in the same metre as ‘Colyn Cloute’) he turned upon Wolsey the full force of his invective, and denounced the cardinal's luxurious life, insatiate ambition, and insolence of bearing. The confused and fantastic ‘boke’ called ‘Speake Parrot’ (in Chaucer's seven-line stanza) is also largely aimed at Wolsey. ‘Bo-ho doth bark well, but Hough-ho he ruleth the ring,’ is the burden of the poem—Bo-ho being the king, and Hough-ho Wolsey. According to popular tradition, Wolsey retaliated by sending Skelton more than once to prison. Skelton disliked the experience, and on the last occasion that Wolsey sent out officers to apprehend him took sanctuary at Westminster. The abbot John Islip, an old acquaintance, gave him a kindly reception, but he did not venture again to forego his friendly protection. He lamented his misfortunes in a whimsical ballad (first printed from MS. belonging to William Bragge, esq., of Sheffield (formerly Heber's), in Athenæum, November 1873). He died at Westminster on 21 June 1529, four months before the fall of his formidable enemy. He was buried in the chancel of St. Margaret's Church, and on his grave were inscribed the words ‘Johannes Skeltonus, vates Pierius, hic situs est.’

Skelton's alleged propensity to practical joking made him the hero of numerous farcical anecdotes, many of them plainly apocryphal. Some were collected in a little volume, which became very popular, under the title ‘Merie Tales Newly Imprinted and made by Master Skelton, Poet Laureat’ (London, Thomas Colwell, 12mo, n.d. [1566]; cf. Stationers' Registers, 1557–70, ed. Collier, i. 160). It is reprinted by Dyce and in Mr. W. C. Hazlitt's ‘Old Jest-Books.’ Stories of Skelton also figure in the collections entitled ‘A C. Mery Talys’ and ‘Tales and Quicke Answeres.’ The popularity which Skelton's ‘Merie Tales,’ and a similar collection dealing with the adventures of John Scogan, acquired in the sixteenth century led to the frequent association of Skelton and Scogan in popular speech and literature as types of clownish wags [see under Scogan, Henry]. Gabriel Harvey asserted that ‘Sir Skelton and Master Scoggin were innocents’ compared with his insolent foe Tom Nash. Scogan and Skelton were the leading characters in a lost play, called after them, by Richard Hathaway and William Rankins, and Ben Jonson introduced both into his ‘Masque of the Fortunate Isles’ (performed 3 Jan. 1624–5). A somewhat more serious view of Skelton's position led Anthony Munday to portray him as Chorus in his ‘Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon’ (1599). Sixteenth-century critics, owing doubtless in some degree to his traditional reputation, treated Skelton as a ‘rude, rayling rimer’ (Puttenham, Arte, ii. cap. ix.) or a scurrilous buffoon (Meres, Palladis Tamia). William Bullein, in his ‘Dialogue against the Fever Pestilence’ (1573), describes his frowning and frost-bitten face and his ‘hot burning choler kindled against the cankered cardinal, Wolsey.’ Drayton, in the preface to his ‘Eclogues,’ ineptly characterised as ‘pretty’ Skelton's ‘Colyn Cloute,’ which he absurdly ascribed to Scogan. Subsequently Edward Phillipps wrote of his ‘loose, rambling style,’ and Pope applied to him the epithets ‘beastly,’ ‘low,’ and ‘bad.’ But he deserves no such severe censure. His own estimate of himself is juster—

    Though my rime be ragged,
    Tatter'd and jagged, …
    It hath in it some pith.

Skelton's untrammelled vigour and his frequent recourse to French and Latin phrases, as well as to the vernacular dialect of East Anglia, left their impress on the English language and increased its flexibility. His characteristic metre—usually called after his name—consists of lines varying in number of syllables from four to six, and rhyming now by couplets and now four, five, or more times over. It is not improbable that Skelton invented the precise form of his favourite metre; but verse embodying its leading features was produced by French and Low-Latin writers before his time (cf. the fabliau ‘Piramus et Tisbé’ in Barbazan et Méon, Fabliaux, iv. 337–8). That Skelton was acquainted with French literature is proved by his translation of Deguilleville's ‘Pelerinage de la Vie humaine’ and by his frequent interpolation of French words and phrases to meet the exigencies of his exacting scheme of rhymes. ‘Skeltonian’ metre often sinks to voluble doggerel, and gives no room for poetic graces, but it is thoroughly well adapted to furious invective and to burlesque narration. In his attacks on Wolsey and the clergy Skelton is ‘like a wild beast,’ tearing language ‘as with teeth and paws, ravenously, savagely’ (cf. Mrs. Browning, Book of the Poets, 1864, pp. 126–7). Elsewhere, as in ‘Phylyp Sparowe,’ which Coleridge described as ‘exquisite and original,’ or in the ‘Tunnynge,’ his grotesque volubility anticipates the fuller-bodied and more coherent humour of Rabelais. But ‘Skeltonian’ metre was not destined for a permanent place in English literature. Disciples of Skelton clumsily imitated it as well as his vein of satire in such denunciations of the clergy as ‘Vox Populi Vox Dei’ and ‘The Image of Ypocrisy’ (cf. Dyce, ii. 400–47; Furnivall, Ballads from MSS. pp. 108–51, 167–274). One of the latest practisers of the metre was the author of a poem describing the defeat of the Spanish armada, entitled ‘A Skeltonicall Salutation’ (1589).

At the same time Skelton had command of many of the more conventional metres. Ballads like that on ‘Mistress Margery Hussey’ show a power of adapting simple words to lyric purposes; while his occasional displays of genuine poetic feeling in the poems (chiefly in Chaucerian stanza) involving allegorical machinery influenced many later poets of his own century. Sackville's ‘Induction’ to the ‘Mirror for Magistrates’ has points of resemblance to Skelton's ‘Bowge of Court,’ and Skelton's early poem on the death of Edward IV was often included in editions of the ‘Mirror for Magistrates,’ of the whole of which it might be regarded as the pattern. Spenser not only developed in his ‘Faerie Queene’ allegory which Skelton may well have suggested, but borrowed from him his title of ‘Colin Clout’ to bestow on the hero of his pastoral poetry.

Of the long list of works in his ‘Garlande of Laurell,’ which Skelton claimed to have composed (ed. Dyce, i. 408–21), very few are extant. Of three morality-plays there mentioned—‘Interlude of Virtue,’ the ‘Comedy Achademiss,’ and ‘Magnificence’—the last alone survives. It ranks with Sir David Lindsay's ‘Satire of the Three Estates’ as one of the two most typical morality-plays in existence. Warton described in detail a fourth morality-play by Skelton, which he says that he found in the possession of the poet William Collins at Chichester. Its title ran, according to Warton, ‘The Nigramansir, a morall Enterlude and a pithie written by Maister Skelton, laureate, and plaid before the King and other estatys at Woodstoke on Palme Sunday.’ It was printed, Warton avers, by Wynkyn de Worde in a thin quarto in 1504. No copy is now known, and no such work is assigned to Skelton by any other writer than Warton. Ritson described as ‘utterly incredible’ Warton's statement that ‘The Nigramansir’ ever existed, but Bliss defended Warton from the insinuation of having invented both the name of the piece and the contents, which he described in detail. In the absence of corroboration, Warton's statement is open to suspicion.

Besides the extant and lost works already described, Skelton's list includes such lost poems as ‘The Tratyse of Triumphs of the Red Rose,’ ‘The balade of the Mustard Tarte,’ an epitaph on himself, ‘Epitomis of the myller and his ioly wake.’

Skelton's works came in separate pamphlets from the presses of Wynkyn de Worde, Richard Pynson, Richard Kele, and other early printers in London. The original editions of almost all are lost, and such early issues as survive are undated. The ‘Bowge of Court’ was printed more than once by Wynkyn de Worde (Cambr. Univ. Libr.); ‘dyuers ballettis and dyties’ (five short occasional poems, with portrait of the author), by Pynson; ‘Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne,’ by Pynson; a ‘replycacion,’ by Pynson; the ‘Garlande of Laurell,’ by Rycharde Faukes in 1523 (Brit. Mus. unique, with portrait); ‘Magnyfycence,’ probably by John Rastell, 1533 (Brit. Mus. and Cambr. Univ. Libr.; reprinted for Roxburghe Club in 1821, and again for the Early English Text Soc., fully edited by Robert Lee Ramsay, Ph.D., in 1908); ‘Phylyp Sparowe,’ by Rychard Kele before 1550 (Huth Libr.), Antony Kytson (Brit. Mus.), Robert Toy, Abraham Veale, John Walley, and John Wyght about 1560 (Brit. Mus.); ‘Colyn Cloute,’ by Thomas Godfrey (Woburn Abbey and Britwell), by Kele before 1550 (Huth Libr.), by Kitson about 1565 (Brit. Mus.), by Veale about 1560 (ib.), by Wyght about 1560 (ib.), and by Walley (Jolley's Cat.); ‘Why come ye not to Courte?’ by Kele about 1530 (with portrait, Brit. Mus. and Huth Libr.), by Kitson, by Veale, by Walley, Robert Toy, and Wyght (Heber's Cat.).

In ‘A Balade of the Scotyshe Kynge,’ apparently printed by Richard Faukes in 1513, Skelton exults over the defeat of the Scots and the death of James IV at Flodden Field. A unique exemplar was discovered in 1878 in a farmhouse at Whaddon, Dorset, in the wooden covers of a copy of the French romance, ‘Huon of Bordeaux’ (Paris, Michel Le Noir, 1513); it is now in the British Museum, and was reprinted in facsimile, with an elaborate introduction by Mr. John Ashton, in 1882. The ballad is one of the earliest extant in English. A more ambitious poem by Skelton on the theme, in varied metres—‘Skelton Laureate against the Scottes’—was included in his ‘Certaine Bokes.’

A separate edition of the ‘Tunnynge’ appeared in 1624 (Huth and Bodl. Libr.), and is reprinted in the ‘Harleian Miscellany’ (ed. Park, vol. i.). As a tract it figured in 1575 in the library of Captain Cox [q. v.] of Coventry, but no separate edition earlier than 1624 is extant (cf. Sir John Oldcastle, pt. i. 1600, 4to, act iv. sc. 4).

Of the poems doubtfully ascribed to Skelton, the epitaph on Jasper, duke of Bedford, was printed by Pynson; a unique copy is in the Pepysian library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Of the elegy on Henry VII, a unique copy, printed as a broadside (imperfect), is in the Bodleian Library.

An imperfect collected edition of Skelton's works, ‘Certaine Bokes co[m]pyled by Maister Skelton, Poet Laureate,’ was published about 1520 by Richard Lant for Henry Tab. This volume included ‘Speake Parrot,’ ‘The Death of Edward IV,’ ‘A treatyse of the Scottes,’ ‘Ware the Hawke,’ and the ‘Tunnynge’ (Brit. Mus.) It was reprinted by John Kynge and Thomas Marche about 1560, and by John Day, with a few additional verses, about 1570. Warton notes a reissue, by W. Bonham, in 1547. Nothing is now known of a volume, described by Wood as Skelton's ‘Poetical Fancies and Satyrs’ (1512); nor of two volumes entitled ‘Poems,’ by Skelton, which Bliss notices—the one assigned to the press of A. Scoloker (n.d. 12mo), the other to that of Wyght in 1588.

The first complete collected edition now extant appeared as ‘Pithy pleasaunt and profitable workes of maister Skelton, Poete Laureate. Nowe collected and newly published. Anno 1568’ (London, by Thomas Marshe, 12mo). Churchyard prefixed eulogistic verses. ‘A Parable by William Cornishe in the Fleete’ was included, apparently in error. A copy of the volume is in the British Museum. A reprint is dated 1736. The standard edition of Skelton's works, edited by Alexander Dyce, was issued in two volumes in 1843. Dyce's annotated copy is in the Dyce Library at South Kensington. Manuscripts of the ‘Colyn Cloute,’ ‘Garlande of Laurell,’ ‘Speake Parrot,’ ‘Against Garnesche,’ and ‘On the Death of the Earl of Northumberland’ are, with some smaller pieces, at the British Museum.

[Dyce's Memoir, prefixed to his edition of Skelton's works; Austin and Ralph's Lives of the Poets-Laureate, 1853; Morley's English Writers, vol. vii.; Warton's English Poetry, 1871, iii. 126–8 et passim; Ritson's Bibliographia Anglo-Poetica; Quarterly Review, 1814 (art. by Southey); Retrospective Review, vi. 337 seq.; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, i. 49–54; Mr. Ashton's Introduction to the Balade of the Scotyshe Kynge, 1882; art. by Mr. James Hooper in Gent. Mag. September 1897.]

S. L.