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RELIQUES OF ANCIENT POETRY.
US OF ANCIENT POETRY
And this be sure, that at one flyghte,
Ye shall to heaven go with greate myghte;
But these herètikes for their medlynge
Shall go down to hel every one;
Nor regarde his holy parddn :
They thinke from all destruction
Fearynge not our excommunicacion,
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,
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,
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,
As I past by a place privily at a port,
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;
Its meet for every man on this matter to talk,
But that I little John Nobody durst not speake.
For our reverend father hath set forth an order, 25
But that I little John Nobody dare not speake.
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.
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
Thus to live after their lust, that life would they have,
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.
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