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One of the least offensive. The Reader will pardon the meanness of the composition for the sake of the anecdote, u bich firongly 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 ft. 2d are meant the Seven Sacraments; five of which were the spurious offspring of Mother Church : as the firft stanza contains a satirical allufion to the luxury of the popish clergy.
The aslaptation of solenn church music to these ludicrous pieces, and the jumble of ideas, thereby occasioned, will account for the following fact. From the Records of the Geo neral Assembly in Scotland, called, " The Book of the UniTerfal Kirk," p. So, 7th July, 1568, it appears, that Thomas Balenyne printer in Edinburgh, printed "a pfalme “ buik, in the end whereof was found printit ane baudy "fang, called, " Welcome Fortunes *."
And ze fall get a fheips heid weel baken in a pye;
* Se also Biograph. Britan, if Edit. ve!. I. p. 177.
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 eafier to make general exclamations about the profligacy of the present times, that no great point is gained by arguments of that fort, 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) hail used the most proper means to ftem 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 papisis, who had private ends to gratify; many that were of no religion ; many greedy courtiers, zubo thirfted after the posterions of the church; and many disolute persons, who wanted to be exempt from all ecclefiaftical 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 Mane more on the truly venerable and pious Reformers.
The reader will remark the fondness of our Satiris for alliteration : in this he was guilty of no affectation or singularity; his verfification 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.
N december, when the dayes draw to be short,
After november, when the nights wax noyfome and As I past by a place privily at a port,
(long; I saw one fit by himself making a song: His last * talk of trifles, who told with his tongue That few were fast i'th' faith. I“freyned f' that freake, Whether he wanted wit, or some had done him wrong. He said, he was little John Nobody, that durft not speake.
John Nobody, quoth I, what news? thou foon note and
He said, he was little John Nobody, that durft not
Its meet for every man on this matter to talk,
* Perhaps He left talk,
† feyned MSS. and P.C.
Yet to their fancy foon a cause will find ;
But that I little John Nobody durft not speake.
For our reverend father hath set forth an order,
But that I little John Nobody dare not speake.
For bribery was never fo great, fince born was our Lord,
the world, That it would grieve any one, that good is, to hear tel. 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 lit le john Nobody dare not speake.
Thus to live after their luft, that life would they have,
Ver. Cain's kind. ] So in Pierce the Ploruman's creed, the proud friars
For al the preaching of Paul, yet many a proud knave
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 currilhly 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 fects, though they say little or nought;
And that I little John Nobody dare not once speake. Thus in no place, this Nobody, in no time I met, Where no man, 'ne NOUGHT was, nor NOTHING did
appear ; Through the sound of a synagogue for forrow I swett, That. Aeolus f' through the eccho did cause me to hear. Then I drew me down into a dale, whereas the dūmb deer Did shiver for a shower; but I Munted from a freyke : For I would no wight in this world wist who I were, But little John Nobody, that dare not once speake. * then, MSS. and PC. + Hercules, MSS. and PC.