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Literary Memoir of Dr. Percy, compositions of all times and dates,
late Bishoy of Drumore. from the ages prior to Chaucer, to
(Concluded from p. 8.) the conclusion of the reign of The work to which we refor an. Charles I. This MS. was shewn peared in 1765, and was $0 well to several learned and ingenious received that a furth edition was friends, who thought the contents published in 1794, which having too curious to be consigned to oblibeen long scarce', a'fifth is in the vion, and importuned the possessor press. It is entitled, Reliques of 10 select some of them and give Ancient English Poetry, consisting them to the press. As most of them Pof Old Hervic Balluds, Songs, and are of greal simplicity, and seem other Pieces of uur earlier Poets, to have been merely written for tiigether with some few of a later the people, he was long in doubt, date, 3 vols, 12mo. From his whether in the present state of im. *Preface we subjoin Mr. l'ercy's proved literature, they could be
account of the origin, design and deemed worthy the attention of Turrangeinent of his work, and of the public. At length the im. thé encouragement under which portunity of his friends prevailed, he first brought it before the and he could refuse nothing to public.
such judges as the author of the “ Tbe reader is here presented Rambler and the late Mr. Shen. “with select remains of our antiept stone.-Accordingly such speciEnglish Bards and Minstrels, an mens of ancient poeiry have been order of men, who were once selected, as either shew the gra. greatly respected by our ancestors, dation of our language, exhibit ard contributed to soften the the progress of popular opinions, * rougliness of a martial and un. display the peculiar manners and
letseied people, by their sungs customs of former ages or throw *and' by iheir music. The greater light on our earlier classical poets. · part of them are extracted from They are bere distributed into an ancient folio manuscript, in Volumes, each of which contains The Editor's possession, which con. an independent Series of poems, tains near 200 Poems, Songs and arranged chietly according to the Metrical Romances. This MS. order or time, and shewing the was written about the middle of the gradual improvements of the En. last (17th] century; but contains glish language and poetry from
the earliest ages down to the sacred; their attendance was so. present. Each Volume or Series licited by kings, and they were is divided into three Books, to at. every where loaded with honours ford so many pauses, or resting. and rewards.” (p. xxii.) It is places to the reader, and to assist then shewn bow ihe poet and the him in distinguishing between the Minstrel early with us becanic productions of the earlier, the two persons. Poetry was cultivated middle and the latter limes. To by men of letters indiscriminately; atone for the rudeness of the more and many of the most popular obsolete poems, each volume con. rbimes were composed amidst the cludes with a few modern artempts leisure and retirement of monas. in the same kind of writing; and teries. But the Minstrels conto take off from the tediousness of tinued a distinct order of men for the longer narratives, they are many ages after the Norman con. every where intermingled with little quest; and got their liveliboud by elegant pieces of the luric kind. singing vesses to the harp at the Select ballads in the old Scottish houses of the great." (p. xxiij.) dialect, most of them fihe first. The second part of this Essay is rate merit, are also interspersed employed 6 to collect from his. among those of our ancient En. tory, such particular incidents as glish Minstrels; and the artless occur on this subject-related by productions of these old rhapso. authors who lived too near the dists are o:casionally confronted Saxon times, and had before them with specimens of the composi. too many monuments of the Anglo. tion of contemporary poets of a Sason nation, not to know what higher class ; of those who had was conformable to the genius the advantages of learning in the and manners of that people;" and times in which they lived, and who thus proving “at least the exisiwrote for fame, and for posterity. ence of the customs and habits Yet perhaps the palm will be fre. they attribute to their forefathers quently due to the old strolling before the conquest." In this Minstrels, who composed their collection, Alfred's adventure in Thimes to be sung to their harps, the Danish camp is not forgotten ; and who looked no farther than and it is fairly argued that “ if for present applause and present the Saxons had not been accussubsistence."-(Pref. pp. xiii. tomed to have minstrels of their xv. Edit. 4th.)
own, Alfred's assuming so new • Prefixed to the first Volume, and unusual a character, would is An Essay on the Antient Min. have excited suspicions among strels in England, deducing their the Danes.” The Essayist adds, succession from the Bards who, that's the minstrel was a re. . under different pames, were ad. gular and stated officer in the · mired and revered, from the ear, court of our Anglo-Saxon kings : Miest ages, among the people of Gaul, for in Doomsday Book juculator Britain, Ireland and the North; regis, the king's minstrel, is ex. and indeed by almost all the first pressly mentioned in Gloucesterinhabitants of Europe. Their skill shire, in which county it should was considered as something di. seem, he had lands assigned him vine; their persons were decined for his maintenance." (p. 25--27.) The third part of this Essay is shews which in the dark ages, designed to shew, “that the Nor. were usually exhibited on the man Conquest was rather likely to more solemn festivals," when “as favour the establishment of the the most mysterious subjects were minstrel profession in this king, frequently chosen, such as the dom, than to suppress it." (P. 29.) incarnation, passion and resuce In the fourth part are given various recring of Christ, these exhibitions instances of the consequence to acquired the general name of which '“ this order of men" ai. mysterirs." (P. 128.) As these tained; bi the Priory and Hos. “ frequently required the repre. pital of St. Bartholomew, in Smith, sentation of some allegorical per. field,” being founded by " the sonage, such as Death, Sing king's minstrel in 1102.” And, Charity, taih, and the like, by about a century after, another is degrees the rude poets of ihese celebrated as a favourite courtier unlettered uge's began to form of Richard the First, whose place compleat dramatic pieces, conof captivity he discovered by sisting entirely of such personifi. means of the liberty of access cations. These they entitled allowed to his profession. Moral Plays, or Moralities. (P.
The following parts bring down 130.) We subjoin, as a curiosity, the history of English minstrelsy Mr. Percy's “ short analysis," to the age of Elizabeth, who " was of one of these moralities, "print. entertained at Killingworth castle, ed early in the reign of Henry the by the Earl of Leicester, in 1575;" Eighth." when, “among the many devices It is entitled Every MAN. and pageants," was contrived the The subjret, of this piece is the representation of " an antiene summoning of man out of the minstrel; minutely described by world by death ; and its moral, a writer there present," and since that nothing will then avail him reprinted in the “ Collection of but a well-spent life and the com. Queen Elizabeth's progresses," forts of religion. This subject The Essayist adds that " towards and moral are opened in a mono. the end of the 16th century, this logue, spoken by the messenger class of men had lost all credit, (for that was the name generally and were sunk so low in the pub. given by our ancestors to the pro. lic opinion that, in 1597, a statute logue on their rude stage). Then was passed, by which minstrels God is represented; (the second wandering abroad were included person of the trinity seems to be among rogues, vagabonds and meani) who, after some general sturdy beggars." (P. 51.) complaints on the degeneracy of
The second book of the first mankind, calls for death, and volume is devoted to “ Ballads orders him to bring before his that illustrate Shakespeare,' in- tribunal Every-Man, for so is troduced by an Essay 66 on the called the personage who reprc. Origin of the English stage.” cents the human race. EveryThis Essay displays a variety of Man appears, and receives the learned research, tracing " the summons with all the marks of origin, or at least revival, of confusion and terror. When death dramatic poetry, to those religious is withdrawn, Every-Man applies
for relief in this distress to Fellow. With five words he can consecrate ship. Kindred, Goods or Riches, God's body, in flesh and blood to take,
And handlech his Maker between his but they successively renounce and has and for-ake him. In this discon. The priest bindeth and unbindeth all solate fate he betakes himself to bands, Gooit. Dieds, who, after upbraid. Both in carth and in heaven.
. Thou ministers all the sacraments seven, 'ing him with his long neglect of Thugh we kiis'd thy feet, thou wert her, introduces him to ber sister worthy ; Knowledge, and she leads hiin to Thou art the surgeon that cureth sise the holy man Confession, who ap. x
deadly; points him penance; this he 11. But alone on priesthood.
No remcdy may we find under God flicts upon himself on the stage, uod gave priest that dignite, and then withdraws to receive the And letieth ihem in his siead among us sacraments of the priest. On a his return, he begins to wax faint,"
Thus'be ihey above angels in degree.
(ii. 114.) and after Strength, Beauty, Dis. cretion and Five.Il'ils, the five In the second part of this Es. senses) have all taken their Eval say, the author describes “ve leave of hin, gradually expires fondness of our ancestors for drae 0:1 the stage : Good. Deeds stili
ili matic exbibilions of this kind," accompanying him 10 the last, and shews froin 66 the Northum. Then an uungoll descends to sing
berland Household Book, 1512,4 his requiem, and the epilogue is
that • ly Loans v1 Chap!Pyrs in spoken by a person called Ductuur,
Household” were accustomed to who recapitulates the whole and “play the Play of the Nativite delivers the moral.
upon cristymnes day," and 's the This memorial mien may have in mind. May of the Resurrection. upon Ye hearers, take it of worth, old and esturday in the mornynge, in my young,
lordis chapell befor his lordship, And forsake Pride, for he deceiveth you and for each bad 16 in rewarde
in the end, And remember Beauty, Five- IVits. xxs." (i. 135.) “ The day origi. Strength and Discretion,
nally set apart for theatrical ex They all, at last, do Every-Man forsake; hibition, appears to have been Save his Good Deeds, these doth he take; Sunday ; probably because the But beware, for, and they be small, Before God he hath no help at all.
first dramatic pieces were of a re.
(Pp. 130-132.) ligious cast. During a great part Mr. Percy, in another place, of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the remarks how the author of this playhouses were only licensed to Morality "takes occasion to in- be opened on that day.” (p. 151.) culcate great reverence for old The editor of the “ Reliques;** Mother Church and her super. was not content to gratify mere stitions, and instances “his high antiquarians. He appears to have encomiums on the priesthood.” — bad a higher object, even to mark There is no emperor, king, duke, ne the progress of the mind in pur. baron,
suits the most important. Thus That of God hath commission,
the second book of his second As hath the least priest in the world on being
volume, commences with 16 A God hath to them more power given
Ballad of Luther, the Pope, a Than to any angel, that is in heaven, Cardinal and a Husbandman," prefaced by some remarks on" the [Peter) ibe Plowman,'' published violent struggles between espiring about 1350. Also of " Pierce the Popery and growing Protestant. Plowinan's Crede." The auism," when the followers of the thor frigus himself ignorant of his old and new profession (as they creed, to be in ciud in wbicb, were called) had their respective he applies to four religius orders. bailad-makers; and every day dilength he meets wiib Pierce, produced some popular sonnet for a poor ploughman, who resolves ar against the Reformation.” The his doubis." (P. 275.) The an. Editor adds, that " in this ballad, thor of the “ allegoric Satire,” Luther is made to speak in a mali. cntitled " The Complaint vi Col. ner not unbecoming the spirit science," is severe upon the legal and courage of that vigorous Re- prolession; and not unjustly, if former.” (ii. 114.) The following barristers then would lend them. lines comprize the pope's greeting selves to advocate' any can-e not from
ligally infamous, and either to - Doctor Martin Luther.
shield the accused from the ven. Thou antichrist, with thy three crowns,
geance of sanguinary laws, or to Hast usurped kings' pow rs,
i invoke their penalues on his head, As having pow'r over realms and towns, with no conscientious discriminaWhom Ibou oughtest io serve all hours: in, but just as they happened to Theo thinkest by thy juggling colours receive a retainer. Conscience is Thou 'mayest likewise God's word op. press ;
complaining of bis unsuccessful
. . . As do the deceitful fowlers,
progress in search of a patron, When they their nets craftily dress. and thus describes his rception Thou flatterest every prince and lord,
among the winds of Thomas:--.. Threatening poor men with sword and a
Then Westminster-hall was no place for * - fire All those that do foilow God's word,
Good lordi how the lawyers began to To make them cleave to thy desire. Their bookes thou burnest. in flaming And fearful they were, lest there!
assemble. ,, fire;. . . .
should be! Cursing with book, bell and candle, Such as to read them have desire,
The siily poor Jerkr's began for to Or with hem are willing to meddie.,
I showed the my cause and did not disThy false power will I bring down, Thoe shalt not reign many a year,
semble; I shall drive thee from city and town,
So they gave me some noney my Even with this pen, which thou seest But swoje nie on a book I'must never
charges o bar, here: Thou figh'est with sword, shield and
(P. 292.) 1 spear,
The third volume of the Rel. But I will fight with God's word; iques, is 66 chwily devoted to ro. Which is now so open and clear, mantic subject,” in which King That it shall bring thce under the board. Artbur and St. George Lave no
(p: 117.) considerable place. Prised is The same subject of the Refor- an Essay " bwanant jetrical mation is continued by our editor, Romancıs; analyzing ane “smen. in bis introduction to Book 31 tioned by Chriller!," uile Libins of this second volume, which be- Disconius, vi The law URANOWN, gins, with." The Complaint of and giving ibewiles and stopos d Conscience. We have here som: dale 66 of suth old moeten all the account of the Visions of Pierce, mances as are sullestüll, amount