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REI

RELIQUES OF ANCIENT POETRY.

US OF ANCIENT POETRY

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And this be sure, that at one flyghte,
Allthough ye be overcome by chaunce,

Ye shall to heaven go with greate myghte;
God can make you no resistaunce.

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But these herètikes for their medlynge

Shall go down to hel every one;
For they have not the popes blessynge,

Nor regarde his holy parddn :

They thinke from all destruction
By Christes bloud to be saved,

Fearynge not our excommunicacion,
Therefore shall they al be dampned.

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JOHN ANDERSON MY JO.

A SCOTTISH SONG. While in England verse was made the vehicle of controversy, and Popery was attacked in it by logical argument, or stinging satire; we may be sure the zeal of the Scottish Reformers would not suffer their pens to be idle, but many a pasquil was discharged at the Romish priests, and their enormous encroachments on property. Of this kind perhaps is the following, (preserved in Maitland's MS. Collection of Scottish poems in the Pepysian library :)

Tak a Wobster, that is leill,
And a Miller, that will not steill,
With ane Priest, that is not gredy,
And lay ane deid corpse thame by,
And, throw virtue of thame three,

That deid corpse sall qwyknit be. Thus far all was fair: but the furious hatred of popery led them to employ their rhymes in a still more licentious manner. It is a received tradition in Scotland, that at the time of the Reformation, ridiculous and obscene songs were composed to be sung by the rabble to the tunes of the most favourite hymns in the Latin service. “Green sleeves and pudding pies' (designed to ridicule the popish clergy) is said to have been one of these metamorphosed hymns: "Maggy Lauder' was another: John Anderson my jo' was a third. The original music of all these burlesque sonnets was very fine. To give a specimen of their manner, we have inserted one of the least offensive. The reader will pardon the meanness of the composition for the sake of the anecdote, which strongly marks the spirit of the times.

In the present Edition this song is much improved by some new readings communicated by a friend; who thinks by the Seven Bairns,' in st. 2d. are meant the Seven Sacraments; five of which were the spurious offspring of Mother Church: as the first stanza contains a satirical allusion to the luxury of the popish clergy.

The adaptation of solemn church music to these ludicrous pieces, and the jumble of ideas, thereby occasioned, will account for the following fact. From the Records of the General Assembly in Scotland, called, The Book of the Universal Kirk,' p. 90, 7th July, 1568, it appears, that Thomas Bassendyne printer in Edinburgh, printed a psalme buik, in the end whereof was found printit ane baudy song, called, Welcome Fortunes.'1

WOMAN. JOHN ANDERSON my jo, cum in as ye gae bye, And ye sall get a sheips heid weel baken in a pye; Weel baken in a pye, and the haggis in a pat: John Anderson my jo, cum in, and ye’s get that.

MAN. And how doe ye, Cummer? and how hae ye threven? And how mony bairns hae ye? Wom. Cummer, I hae

seven. Man. Are they to your awin gude man? Wom. Na,

Cummer, na;
For five of tham were gotten, quhan he was awa.'

III.

LITTLE JOHN NOBODY. We have here a witty libel on the Reformation under king Edward VI. written about the year 1550, and preserved in the Pepys collection, British Museum, and Strype's Mem. of Cranmer.' The author artfully declines entering into the merits of the cause, and wholly reflects on the lives and actions of many of the Reformed. It is so easy to find flaws and imperfections in the conduct of men, even the best of them, and still easier to make general exclamations about the profligacy of the present times, that no great point is

1 See also Biograph. Britan. 1st Edit. vol. I. p. 177.

gained by arguments of that sort, unless the author could have proved that the principles of the Reformed Religion had a natural tendency to produce a corruption of manners: whereas he indirectly owns, that their Reverend Father [archbishop Cranmer] had used the most proper means to stem the torrent, by giving the people access to the scriptures, by teaching them to pray with understanding, and by publishing homilies, and other religious tracts. It must however be acknowledged, that our libeller had at that time sufficient room for just satire. For under the banners of the Reformed had inlisted themselves many concealed papists, who had private ends to gratify; many that were of no religion; many greedy courtiers, who thirsted after the possessions of the church ; and many dissolute persons, who wanted to be exempt from all ecclesiastical censures : And as these men were loudest of all others in their cries for Reformation, so in effect none obstructed the regular progress of it so much, or by their vicious lives brought 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, prefixed to Book III. in this Volume.

In December, when the dayes draw to be short,
After November, when the nights wax noysome and

long;

As I past by a place privily at a port,
I saw one sit by himself making a song:
His last 1 talk of trifles, who told with his tongue 5
That few were fast i th’ faith. I [freyned 2] that

freake, 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. 10 He said, “These gay gallants, that wil construe the

gospel, As Solomon the sage, with semblance full sad;

* Perhaps He left talk. -feyned MSS. and P.C.

To discusse divinity they nought adread;
More meet it were for them to milk kye at a fleyke,'
Thou lyest,' quoth I, thou losel, like a leud lad.' 15
He said, he was little John Nobody, that durst not

speake.

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:
Such caitives count to be come of Cains kind;

But that I little John Nobody durst not speake.

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For our reverend father hath set forth an order, 25
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: 30
But wretches nere worse to do poor men wrong;

But that I little John Nobody dare not speake.

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For bribery was never so great, since born was our

Lord, And whoredom was never les hated, sith Christ har

rowed hel, And poor men are so sore punished commonly through

the world, That it would grieve any one, that good is, to hear tel.

Ver. 23. Cain's kind.] So in Pierce the Plowman's creed, the proud friars are said to be

- Of Caymes kind.' Vid. Sig. Cij. b.

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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; The fashion of these new fellows it is so vile and fell:

But that I little John Nobody dare not speake. 40

IVO

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, 45 And in brawling about baudery, Gods commandments

breake: But of these frantic il fellowes, few of them do thrife;

Though I little John Nobody dare not speake.

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If thou company with them, they wil currishly carp,

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

freyke Is sorry for these sects, though they say little or

naught; And that I little John Nobody dare not once

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speake.'

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