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ENGLISH SATIRES

With an Introduction by

OLIPHANT SMEATON

London The Gresham Publishing Company 34 Southampton Street Strand



TO THE MEMORY OF

ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART D.D., LL.D., F.S.A.

WITH A GRATEFUL SENSE OF ALL IT OWES TO HIS TEACHING THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR



PREFACE.

In the compilation of this volume my aim has been to furnish a work that would be representative in character rather than exhaustive. The restrictions of space imposed by the limits of such a series as this have necessitated the omission of many pieces that readers might expect to see included. As far as possible, however, the most typical satires of the successive eras have been selected, so as to throw into relief the special literary characteristics of each, and to manifest the trend of satiric development during the centuries elapsing between Langland and Lowell.

Acknowledgment is due, and is gratefully rendered, to Mrs. C.S. Calverley for permission to print the verses which close this book; and to Messrs. Macmillan & Co. for permission to print A.H. Clough's "Spectator ab Extra".

To Professor C.H. Herford my warmest thanks are due for his careful revision of the Introduction, and for many valuable hints which have been adopted in the course of the work; also to Mr. W. Keith Leask, M.A.(Oxon.), and the librarians of the Edinburgh University and Advocates' Libraries.

OLIPHANT SMEATON.



CONTENTS.

Page INTRODUCTION xiii

WILLIAM LANGLAND I. Pilgrimage in Search of Do-well 1

GEOFFREY CHAUCER II. III. The Monk and the Friar 6

JOHN LYDGATE IV. The London Lackpenny 10

WILLIAM DUNBAR V. The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins 14

SIR DAVID LYNDSAY VI. Satire on the Syde Taillis—Ane Supplicatioun directit to the Kingis Grace—1538 19

BISHOP JOSEPH HALL VII. On Simony 22 VIII. The Domestic Tutor's Position 23 IX. The Impecunious Fop 24

GEORGE CHAPMAN X. An Invective written by Mr. George Chapman against Mr. Ben Jonson 26

JOHN DONNE XI. The Character of the Bore 29

BEN JONSON XII. The New Cry 34 XIII. On Don Surly 35

SAMUEL BUTLER XIV. The Character of Hudibras 36 XV. The Character of a Small Poet 43

ANDREW MARVELL XVI. Nostradamus's Prophecy 45

JOHN CLEIVELAND XVII. The Scots Apostasie 47

JOHN DRYDEN XVIII. Satire on the Dutch 49 XIX. MacFlecknoe 50 XX. Epistle to the Whigs 57

DANIEL DEFOE XXI. Introduction to the True born Englishman 63

THE EARL OF DORSET XXII. Satire on a Conceited Playwright 65

JOHN ARBUTHNOT XXIII. Preface to John Bull and his Law suit 66 XXIV. The History of John Bull 70 XXV. Epitaph upon Colonel Chartres 76

JONATHAN SWIFT XXVI. Mrs Frances Harris' Petition 77 XXVII. Elegy on Partridge 81 XXVIII. A Meditation upon a Broom stick 85 XXIX. The Relations of Booksellers and Authors 86 XXX. The Epistle Dedicatory to His Royal Highness Prince Posterity 91

SIR RICHARD STEELE XXXI. The Commonwealth of Lunatics 97

JOSEPH ADDISON XXXII. Sir Roger de Coverley's Sunday 101

EDWARD YOUNG XXXIII. To the Right Hon. Mr. Dodington 105

JOHN GAY XXXIV. The Quidnunckis 112

ALEXANDER POPE XXXV. The Dunciad—The Description of Dulness 114 XXXVI. Sandys' Ghost; or, a proper new ballad of the New Ovid's Metamorphoses, as it was intended to be translated by persons of quality 120 XXXVII. Satire on the Whig Poets 122 XXXVIII. Epilogue to the Satires 131

SAMUEL JOHNSON XXXIX. The Vanity of Human Wishes 136 XL. Letter to the Earl of Chesterfield 147

OLIVER GOLDSMITH XLI. The Retaliation 149 XLII. The Logicians Refuted 154 XLIII. Beau Tibbs, his Character and Family 156

CHARLES CHURCHILL XLIV. The Journey 160

JUNIUS XLV. To the King 164

ROBERT BURNS XLVI. Address to the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous 180 XLVII. Holy Willie's Prayer 182

CHARLES LAMB XLVIII. A Farewell to Tobacco 186

THOMAS MOORE XLIX. Lines on Leigh Hunt 191

GEORGE CANNING L. Epistle from Lord Boringdon to Lord Granville 192 LI. Reformation of the Knave of Hearts 194

POETRY OF THE ANTI JACOBIN LII. The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder 203 LIII. Song by Rogero the Captive 205

COLERIDGE AND SOUTHEY LIV. The Devil's Walk 206

SYDNEY SMITH LV. The Letters of Peter Plymley—on "No Popery" 208

JAMES SMITH LVI. The Poet of Fashion 216

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR LVII. Bossuet and the Duchess of Fontanges 218

LORD BYRON LVIII. The Vision of Judgment 226 LIX. The Waltz 236 LX. "The Dedication" in Don Juan 243

THOMAS HOOD LXI. Cockle v. Cackle 249

LORD MACAULAY LXII. The Country Clergyman's Trip to Cambridge 253

WINTHROP MACKWORTH PRAED LXIII. The Red Fisherman; or, The Devil's Decoy 257 LXIV. Mad—Quite Mad 264

BENJAMIN DISRAELI (LORD BEACONSFIELD) LXV. Popanilla on Man 270

ROBERT BROWNING LXVI. Cristina 277 LXVII. The Lost Leader 280

WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY LXVIII. Piscator and Piscatrix 281 LXIX. On a Hundred Years Hence 283

ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH LXX. Spectator Ab Extra 292

C.S. CALVERLEY LXXI. "Hic Vir, Hic Est" 296



INTRODUCTION.

Satire and the satirist have been in evidence in well-nigh all ages of the world's history. The chief instruments of the satirist's equipment are irony, sarcasm, invective, wit, and humour. The satiric denunciation of a writer burning with indignation at some social wrong or abuse, is capable of reaching the very highest level of literature. The writings of a satirist of this type, and to some extent of every satirist who touches on the social aspects of life, present a picture more or less vivid, though not of course complete and impartial, of the age to which he belongs, of the men, their manners, fashions, tastes, and prevalent opinions. Thus they have a historical as well as a literary and an ethical value. And Thackeray, in speaking of the office of the humorist or satirist, for to him they were one, says, "He professes to awaken and direct your love, your pity, your kindness, your scorn for untruth, pretension, imposture, your tenderness for the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy. To the best of his means and ability he comments on all the ordinary actions and passions of life almost."[1]

Satire has, in consequence, always ranked as one of the cardinal divisions of literature. Its position as such, however, is due rather to the fact of it having been so regarded among the Romans, than from its own intrinsic importance among us to-day. Until the closing decades of the eighteenth century—so long, in fact, as the classics were esteemed of paramount authority as models—satire proper was accorded a definite place in letters, and was distinctively cultivated by men of genius as a branch of literature. But with the rise of the true national spirit in the various literatures of Europe, and notably in that of England, satire has gradually given place to other types of composition. Slowly but surely it has been edged out of its prominent position as a separate department, and has been relegated to the position of a quality of style, important, beyond doubt, yet no longer to be considered as a prime division of letters.[2]

Rome rather than Greece must be esteemed the home of ancient satire. Quintilian, indeed, claims it altogether for his countrymen in the words, Satira tota nostra est; while Horace styles it Graecis intactum carmen. But this claim must be accepted with many reservations. It does not imply that we do not discover the existence of satire, together with favourable examples of it, long anterior to the oldest extant works in either Grecian or Latin literature. The use of what are called "personalities" in everyday speech was the probable origin of satire. Conversely, also, satire, in the majority of those earlier types current at various periods in the history of literature, has shown an inclination to be personal in its character. De Quincey, accordingly, has argued that the more personal it became in its allusions, the more it fulfilled its specific function. But such a view is based on the supposition that satire has no other mission than to lash the vices of our neighbours, without recalling the fact that the satirist has a reformative as well as a punitive duty to discharge. The further we revert into the "deep backward and abysm of time" towards the early history of the world, the more pronounced and overt is this indulgence in broad personal invective and sarcastic strictures.

The earliest cultivators of the art were probably the men with a grievance, or, as Dr. Garnett says, "the carpers and fault-finders of the clan". Their first attempts were, as has been conjectured, merely personal lampoons against those they disliked or differed from, and were perhaps of a type cognate with the Homeric Margites. Homer's character of Thersites is mayhap a lifelike portrait of some contemporary satirist who made himself dreaded by his personalities. But even in Thersites we see the germs of transition from merely personal invective to satire directed against a class; and Greek satire, though on the whole more personal than Roman, achieved brilliant results. It is enough to name Archilochus, whom Mahaffy terms the Swift of Greek Literature, Simonides of Amorgos (circ. 660 B.C.), the author of the famous Satire on Women, and Hipponax of Ephesus, reputed the inventor of the Scazon or halting iambic.

But the lasting significance of Greek satire is mainly derived from its surpassing distinction in two domains—in the comico-satiric drama of Aristophanes, and in the Beast Fables of 'AEsop'. In later Greek literature it lost its robustness and became trivial and effeminate through expending itself on unworthy objects.

It is amongst the Romans, with their deeper ethical convictions and more powerful social sense, that we must look for the true home of ancient satire. The germ of Roman satire is undoubtedly to be found in the rude Fescennine verses, the rough and licentious jests and buffoonery of the harvest-home and the vintage thrown into quasi-lyrical form. These songs gradually developed a concomitant form of dialogue styled saturae, a term denoting "miscellany", and derived perhaps from the Satura lanx, a charger filled with the first-fruits of the year's produce, which was offered to Bacchus and Ceres.[3] In Ennius, the "father of Roman satire", and Varro, the word still retained this old Roman sense.

Lucilius was the first Roman writer who made "censorious criticism" the prevailing tone of satire, and his work, the parent of the satire of Horace, of Persius, of Juvenal, and through that of the poetical satire of modern times, was the principal agent in fixing its present polemical and urban associations upon a term originally steeped in the savour of rustic revelry. In the hands of Horace, Roman satire was to be moulded into a new type that was not only to be a thing of beauty, but, as far as one can yet see, to remain a joy for ever. The great Venusian, as he informs us, set before himself the task of adapting the satire of Lucilius to the special circumstances, the manners, the literary modes and tastes of the Augustan age. Horace's Satires conform to Addison's great rule, which he lays down in the Spectator, that the satire which only seeks to wound is as dangerous as arrows that fly in the dark. There is always an ethical undercurrent running beneath the polished raillery and the good-natured satire. His genial bonhomie prevents him from ever becoming ill-natured in his animadversions.

Of those manifold, kaleidoscopically-varied types of human nature which in the Augustan age flocked to Rome as the centre of the known world, he was a keen and a close observer. Jealously he noted the deteriorating influence these foreign elements were exercising on the grand old Roman character, and some of the bitterest home-thrusts he ever delivered were directed against this alien invasion.[4] In those brilliant pictures wherewith his satires are replete, Horace finds a place for all. Sometimes he criticises as a far-off observer, gazing with a sort of cynical amusement at this human raree-show; at others he speaks as though he himself were in the very midst of the bustling frivolity of the Roman Vanity Fair, and a sufferer from its follies. Then his tone seems to deepen into a grave intensity of remonstrance, as he exposes its hollowness, its heartlessness, and its blindness to the absorbing problems of existence.

After the death of Horace (B.C. 8) no names of note occur in the domain of satire until we reach that famous trio, contemporary with one another, who adorned the concluding half of the first century of our era, viz.:—Juvenal, Persius, and Martial. They are severally representative of distinct modes or types of satire. Juvenal illustrates rhetorical or tragic satire, of which he is at once the inventor and the most distinguished master—that form of composition, in other words, which attacks vice, wrongs, or abuses in a high-pitched strain of impassioned, declamatory eloquence. In this type of satire, evil is designedly painted in exaggerated colours, that disgust may more readily be aroused by the loathsomeness of the picture. As a natural consequence, sobriety, moderation, and truth to nature no longer are esteemed so indispensable. In this style Juvenal has had many imitators, but no superiors. His satires represent the final development the form underwent in achieving the definite purpose of exposing and chastising in a systematic manner the entire catalogue of vices, public and private, which were assailing the welfare of the state. They constitute luridly powerful pictures of a debased and shamelessly corrupt condition of society. Keen contemptuous ridicule, a sardonic irony that held nothing in reverence, a caustic sarcasm that burned like an acid, and a vituperative invective that ransacked the language for phrases of opprobrium—these were the agents enlisted by Juvenal into the service of purging society of its evil.

Persius, on the other hand, was the philosophic satirist, whose devotion to Stoicism caused him to see in it a panacea for all the evils which Nero brought on the empire. The shortness of his life, his studious tastes, and his exceptional moral purity all contributed to keep him ignorant of that world of evil which, as Professor Sellar has pithily remarked, it is the business of the satirist to know. Hence he is purely a philosophic or didactic satirist. Only one of his poems, the first, fulfils the special end of satire by representing any phase whatever of the life of his time, and pointing its moral.

Finally, Martial exchanged the epic tirade for the epigram as the vehicle of his satire, and handled this lighter missile with unsurpassed brilliance and verve. Despite his sycophancy and his fulsome flattery of prospective benefactors, he displays more of the sober moderation and sane common-sense of Horace than either of his contemporaries. There are few better satirists of social and literary pretenders either in ancient or modern times. No ancient has more vividly painted the manners of antiquity. If Juvenal enforces the lesson of that time, and has penetrated more deeply into the heart of society, Martial has sketched its external aspect with a much fairer pencil, and from a much more intimate contact with it.

In the first and second centuries of our era two other forms of satire took their rise, viz.:—the Milesian or "Satiric Tale" of Petronius and Apuleius, and the "Satiric Dialogue" of Lucian. Both are admirable pictures of their respective periods. The Tales of the two first are conceived with great force of imagination, and executed with a happy blending of humour, wit, and cynical irony that suggests Gil Blas or Barry Lyndon. The Supper of Trimalchio, by Petronius, reproduces with unsparing hand the gluttony and the blatant vice of the Neronic epoch. The Golden Ass of Apuleius is a clever sketch of contemporary manners in the second century, painting in vivid colours the reaction that had set in against scepticism, and the general appetite that prevailed for miracles and magic.

Finally, ancient satire may be said to close with the famous Dialogues of Lucian, which, although written in Greek, exhibited all the best features of Roman satire. Certainly the ethical purpose and the reformative element are rather implied than insistently expressed in Lucian; but he affords in his satiric sketches a capital glimpse of the ludicrous perplexity into which the pagan mind was plunged when it had lost faith in its mythology, and when a callous indifference towards the Pantheon left the Roman world literally without a rational creed. As a satire on the old Hellenic religion nothing could be racier than The Dialogues of the Gods and The Dialogues of the Dead.

It is impossible in this brief survey to discuss at large the vast chaotic epoch in the history of satire which lies between the end of the ancient world and the dawn of humanism. For satire, as a literary genre, belongs to these two. The mediaeval world, inexhaustible in its capacity and relish for abuse, full of rude laughter and drastic humour—prompt, for all its superstition, to make a jest of the priest, and, for all its chivalry, to catalogue the foibles of women—had the satirical animus in abundance, and satirical songs, visions, fables, fabliaux, ballads, epics, in legion, but no definite and recognised school of satire. It is sufficient to name, as examples of the extraordinary range of the mediaeval satiric genius, the farce of Pathelin, the beast-epic of Renart, the rhymes of Walter Map, and the Inferno of Dante.

Of these satirists before the rise of "satire", mediaeval England produced two great examples in Chaucer and Langland. They typify at the outset the two classes into which Dryden divided English satirists—the followers of Horace's way and the followers of Juvenal's—the men of the world, who assail the enemies of common-sense with the weapons of humour and sarcasm; and the prophets, who assail vice and crime with passionate indignation and invective scorn. Since Dryden's time neither line has died out, and it is still possible, with all reserves, to recognise the two strains through the whole course of English literature: the one represented in Chaucer, Donne, Marvell, Addison, Arbuthnot, Swift, Young, Goldsmith, Canning, Thackeray, and Tennyson; the others in Langland, Skelton, Lyndsay, Nash, Marston, Dryden, Pope, Churchill, Johnson, Junius, Burns, and Browning.

Langland was a naive mediaeval Juvenal. The sad-visaged, world-weary dreamer of the Malvern hills, sorrowing over the vice, the abuses, and the social misery of his time, finding, as he tells us, no comfort in any of the established institutions of his day, because confronted with the fraud and falsehood that infected them all, is one of the most pathetic figures in literature. As Skeat suggests, the object of his great poem was to secure, through the latitude afforded by allegory, opportunities of describing the life and manners of the poorer classes, of inveighing against clerical abuses and the rapacity of the friars, of representing the miseries caused by the great pestilences then prevalent, and by the hasty and ill-advised marriages consequent thereon; of denouncing lazy workmen and sham beggars, the corruption and bribery then too common in the law-courts—in a word, to lash all the numerous forms of falsehood, which are at all times the fit subjects for satire and indignant exposure. Amid many essential differences, is there not here a striking likeness to the work of the Roman Juvenal? Langland's satire is not so fiery nor so rhetorically intense as that of his prototype, but it is less profoundly despairing. He satirizes evil rather by exposing it and contrasting it with good, than by vehemently denouncing it. The colours of the pictures are sombre, and the gloom is almost overwhelming, but still it is illumined from time to time with the hope of coming amendment, when the great reformer Piers the Plowman, by which is typified Christ,[5] should appear, who was to remedy all abuses and restore the world to a right condition. In this sustaining hope he differs from Juvenal, the funereal gloom of whose satires is relieved by no gleam of hope for the future.

Contrast with this the humorous brightness, the laughter, and the light of the surroundings associated with his great contemporary, Geoffrey Chaucer. His very satire is kindly and quaint, like that of Horace, rather than bitterly acidulous. He raps his age over the knuckles, it is true, for its faults and foibles, but the censor's face wears a genial smile. One of his chief attractions for us lies in his bright objectivity. He never wears his heart on his sleeve like Langland. He has touches of rare and profound pathos, but these notes of pain are only like undertones of discord to throw the harmony into stronger relief, only like little cloudlets momentarily flitting across the golden sunshine of his humour.

We read Chaucer, as we read Horace, from love of his piquant Epicureanism, and the scintillating satire wherewith he enlivens those matchless pictures of his epoch which he has handed down to us. Chaucer, as Professor Minto puts it, wrote largely for the court circle. His verses were first read in tapestried chambers, and to the gracious ear of stately lords and ladies. It was because he wrote for such an audience that he avoids the introduction of any discordant element in the shape of the deeper and darker social problems of the time. The same reticence occurs in Horace, writing as he did for the ear of Augustus and Maecenas, and of the fashionable circle thronging the great palace of his patron on the Esquiline. Is not the historic parallel between the two pairs of writers still further verified? Chaucer wisely chose the epic form for his greatest poem, because he could introduce thereinto so many distinct qualities of composition, and the woof of racy humour as well as of sprightly satire which he introduces with such consummate art into the texture of his verse is of as fine a character as any in our literature. In Langland's great allegory, the satire is earnest, grave and solemn, as though with a sense of deep responsibility; that in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales—nay, in all his poems—is genial, laughing, and good-natured; tolerant, like Horace's of human weaknesses, because the author is so keenly conscious of his own.

Langland and Chaucer both died about the beginning of the fifteenth century. But from that date until 1576—when Gascoigne's Steel Glass, the first verse satire of the Elizabethan age, was published—we must look mainly to Scotland and the poems of William Dunbar, Sir David Lyndsay, and others, to preserve the apostolic succession of satire. William Dunbar is one of the greatest of British satirists. His Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins, in which the popular poetic form of the age—allegory—is utilized with remarkable skill as the vehicle for a scathing satire on the headlong sensuality of his time, produces by its startling realism and terrible intensity an effect not unlike that exercised by the overpowering creations of Salvator Rosa. The poem is a bitter indictment of the utter corruption of all classes in the society of his period. Like Juvenal, to whose school he belongs, he softens nothing, tones down nothing. The evil is presented in all its native hideousness. Lyndsay, on the other hand, would have been more vigorous had he been less diffuse, and used the pruning-knife more unsparingly. His finest satiric pictures often lose their point by verbosity and tediousness. Brevity is the soul of satire as well as of wit.

The most vigorous English satire of this entire period was that which we owe to the scurrilous pen of Skelton and the provocative personality of Wolsey. With his work may be mentioned the rude and unpolished, yet vigorous, piece bearing the rhyming title,

"Rede me and be nott wrothe, For I saye no thing but trothe",

written by two English Observantine Franciscan friars, William Roy and Jerome Barlowe;[6] a satire which stung the great cardinal so sharply that he commissioned Hermann Rynck to buy up every available copy. Alexander Barclay's imitation, in his Ship of Fools, of Sebastian Brandt's Narrenschiff, was only remarkable for the novel satirical device of the plan.

Bishop Latimer in his sermons is a vigorous satirist, particularly in that discourse upon "The Ploughers" (1547). His fearlessness is very conspicuous, and his attacks on the bishops who proved untrue to their trust and allowed their dioceses to go to wreck and ruin, are outspoken and trenchant:

"They that be lords will ill go to plough. It is no meet office for them. It is not seeming for their state. Thus came up lording loiterers; Thus crept in unprechinge prelates, and so have they long continued. For how many unlearned prelates have we now at this day? And no marvel; For if the ploughmen that now be, were made lordes, they would clean give over ploughing, they would leave of theyr labour and fall to lording outright and let the plough stand. For ever since the Prelates were made lords and nobles, the plough standeth, there is no work done, the people starve. They hawke, they hunte, they carde, they dyce, they pastime in their prelacies with galaunt gentlemen, with their dauncing minions, and with their freshe companions, so that ploughing is set aside."[7]

But after Gascoigne's Steel Glass was published, which professed to hold a mirror or "steel glass" up to the vices of the age, we reach that wonderful outburst of satiric, epigrammatic, and humorous composition which was one of the characteristics, and certainly not the least important, of the Elizabethan epoch. Lodge's Fig for Momus (1593) contains certain satires which rank with Gascoigne's work as the earliest compositions of that type belonging to the period. That they were of no mean reputation in their own day is evident from the testimony of Meres,[8] who says, "As Horace, Lucilius, Juvenal, Persius, and Lucullus are the best for satire among the Latins, so with us, in the same faculty, these are chiefe, Piers Plowman, Lodge, Hall of Emanuel College, Cambridge, the author of Pygmalion's Image and Certain Satires[9] and the author of Skialethea". This contemporary opinion regarding the fact that The Vision of Piers Plowman was esteemed a satire of outstanding merit in those days, is a curious commentary on Hall's boastful couplet describing himself as the earliest English satirist.

To name all the writers who, in this fruitful epoch of our literature, devoted themselves to this kind of composition would be impossible. From 1598 until the death of James I. upwards of one hundred separate satirists can be named, both in verse and prose. Of these Bishop Hall is one of the greatest, and I have chosen him as the leading representative of the period. To the study of Horace and Juvenal he had devoted many years of his early manhood, and his imitation of these two great Romans is close and consistent. Therefore, for vigour, grave dignity, and incisiveness of thought, united to graphic pictures of his age, Hall is undeniably the most important name in the history of the Elizabethan satire, strictly so called. His exposures of the follies of his age were largely couched in the form, so much affected by Horace, of a familiar commentary on certain occurrences, addressed apparently to an anonymous correspondent.

Contemporary with Hall was Thomas Nash, whose Pierce Penilesse's Supplication to the Devil was one of the most extraordinary onslaughts on the social vices of the metropolis that the period produced. Written in close imitation of Juvenal's earlier satires, he frequently approaches the standard of his master in graphic power of description, in scathing invective, and ironical mockery. In Have with you to Saffron Walden he lashed Gabriel Harvey for his unworthy conduct towards the memory of Robert Greene. Both satires are written in prose, as indeed are nearly all his works, inasmuch as Nash was more of a pamphleteer than anything else. Other contemporaries of Hall were Thomas Dekker, whose fame as a dramatist has eclipsed his reputation as a satirist, but whose Bachelor's Banquet—pleasantly discoursing the variable humours of Women, their quickness of wits and unsearchable deceits, is a sarcastic impeachment of the gentler sex, while his Gull's Hornbook must be ranked with Nash's work as one of the most unsparing castigations of social life in London. The latter is a volume of fictitious maxims for the use of youths desirous of being considered "pretty fellows". Other contemporaries were John Donne, John Marston, Jonson, George Chapman, and Nicholas Breton—all names of men who were conspicuous inheritors of the true Elizabethan spirit, and who united virility of thought to robustness and trenchancy of sarcasm.

Marston and Breton were amongst the best of the group, though they are not represented in these pages owing to the unsuitability of their writings for extract. Here is a picture from one of the satires of Marston which is instinct with satiric power. It is a portrait of a love-sick swain, and runs as follows:—

"For when my ears received a fearful sound That he was sick, I went, and there I found, Him laid of love and newly brought to bed Of monstrous folly, and a franticke head: His chamber hanged about with elegies, With sad complaints of his love's miseries, His windows strow'd with sonnets and the glasse Drawn full of love-knots. I approach'd the asse, And straight he weepes, and sighes some Sonnet out To his fair love! and then he goes about, For to perfume her rare perfection, With some sweet smelling pink epitheton. Then with a melting looke he writhes his head, And straight in passion, riseth in his bed, And having kist his hand, strok'd up his haire, Made a French conge, cryes 'O cruall Faire!' To th' antique bed-post."[10]

Marston manifests more vigour and nervous force in his satires than Hall, but exhibits less elegance and ease in versification. In Charles Fitz-geoffrey's Affaniae, a set of Latin epigrams, printed at Oxford in 1601, Marston is complimented as the "Second English Satirist", or rather as dividing the palm of priority and excellence in English satire with Hall. The individual characteristics of the various leading Elizabethan satirists,—the vitriolic bitterness of Nash, the sententious profundity of Donne, the happy-go-lucky "slogging" of genial Dekker, the sledge-hammer blows of Jonson, the turgid malevolence of Chapman, and the stiletto-like thrusts of George Buchanan are worthy of closer and more detailed study than can be devoted to them in a sketch such as this. I regret that Nicolas Breton's Pasquil's Madcappe proved too long for quotation in its entirety,[11] but the man who could pen such lines as these was, of a truth, a satirist of a high order:—

But what availes unto the world to talke? Wealth is a witch that hath a wicked charme, That in the minds of wicked men doth walke, Unto the heart and Soule's eternal harme, Which is not kept by the Almighty arme: O,'tis the strongest instrument of ill That ere was known to work the devill's will.

An honest man is held a good poore soule, And kindnesse counted but a weake conceite, And love writte up but in the woodcocke's soule, While thriving Wat doth but on Wealth await: He is a fore horse that goes ever streight: And he but held a foole for all his Wit, That guides his braines but with a golden bit.

A virgin is a vertuous kind of creature, But doth not coin command Virginitie? And beautie hath a strange bewitching feature, But gold reads so much world's divinitie, As with the Heavens hath no affinitie: So that where Beauty doth with vertue dwell, If it want money, yet it will not sell.

Of the satiric forms peculiar to the Elizabethan epoch there is no great variety. The Characters of Theophrastus supplied a model to some of the writers. The close adherence also which the majority of them manifest to the broadly marked types of "Horatian" and "Juvenalian" satire, both in matter and manner, is not a little remarkable. The genius for selecting from the classics those forms both of composition and metre best suited to become vehicles for satire, and adapting them thereto, did not begin to manifest itself in so pronounced a manner until after the Restoration. The Elizabethan mind—using the phrase of course in its broad sense as inclusive of the Jacobean and the early Caroline epochs—was more engrossed with the matter than the manner of satire. Perhaps the finest satire which distinguished this wonderful era was the Argenis of John Barclay, a politico-satiric romance, or, in other words, the adaptation of the "Milesian tale" of Petronius to state affairs.

During the Parliamentary War, satire was the only species of composition which did not suffer more or less eclipse, but its character underwent change. It became to a large extent a medium for sectarian bitterness. It lost its catholicity, and degenerated in great measure into the instrument of partisan antagonism, and a means of impaling the folly or fanaticism, real or imagined, of special individuals among the Cavaliers and Roundheads.[12] Of such a character was the bulk of the satires produced at that time. In a few instances, however, a higher note was struck, as, for example, when "dignified political satire", in the hands of Andrew Marvell, was utilized to fight the battle of freedom of conscience in the matter of the observances of external religion. The Rehearsal Transposed, Mr. Smirke, or the Divine in Mode, and his Political Satires are masterpieces of lofty indignation mingled with grave and ironical banter. Among many others Edmund Waller showed himself an apt disciple of Horace, and produced charming social satires marked by delicate wit and raillery in the true Horatian mode; while the Duke of Buckingham, in the Rehearsal, utilized the dramatic parody to travesty the plays of Dryden. Abraham Cowley, in the Mistress, also imitated Horace, and in his play Cutter of Coleman Street satirized the Puritans' affectation of superior sanctity and their affected style of conversation. Then came John Oldham and John Cleiveland, who both accepted Juvenal as their model. Cleiveland's antipathy towards Cromwell and the Scots was on a par with that of John Wilkes towards the latter, and was just as unreasonable, while the language he employed in his diatribes against both was so extravagant as to lose its sarcastic point in mere vulgar abuse. In like manner Oldham's Satires on the Jesuits afford as disgraceful a specimen of sectarian bigotry as the language contains. Only their pungency and wit render them readable. He displays Juvenal's violence of invective without his other redeeming qualities. All these, however, were entirely eclipsed in reputation by a writer who made the mock-epic the medium through which the bitterest onslaught on the anti-royalist party and its principles was delivered by one who, as a "king's man", was almost as extreme a bigot as those he satirized. The Hudibras of Samuel Butler, in its mingling of broad, almost extravagant, humour and sneering mockery has no parallel in our literature. Butler's characters are rather mere "humours" or qualities than real personages. There is no attempt made to observe the modesty of nature. Hudibras, therefore, is an example not so much of satire, though satire is present in rich measure also, as of burlesque. The poem is genuinely satirical only in those parts where the author steps in as the chorus, so to speak, and offers pithy moralizings on what is taking place in the action of the story. There is visible throughout the poem, however, a lack of restraint that causes him to overdo his part. Were Hudibras shorter, the satire would be more effective. Though in parts often as terse in style as Pope's best work, still the poem is too long, and it undoes the force of its attack on the Puritans by its exaggeration.

All these writers, even Butler himself, simply prepared the way for the man who is justly regarded as England's greatest satirist. The epoch of John Dryden has been fittingly styled the "Golden Age of English Satire".[13] To warrant this description, however, it must be held to include the writers of the reign of Queen Anne. The Elizabethan period was perhaps richer, numerically speaking, in representatives of certain types of satirical composition, but the true perfection, the efflorescence of the long-growing plant, was reached in that era which extended from the publication of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (Part I.) in 1681 to the issue of Pope's Dunciad in its final form in 1742. During these sixty years appeared the choicest of English satires, to wit, all Dryden's finest pieces, the Medal, MacFlecknoe, and Absalom and Achitophel, Swift's Tale of a Tub, and his Miscellanies—among which his best metrical satires appeared; all Defoe's work, too, as well as Steele's in the Tatler, and Addison's in the Spectator, Arbuthnot's History of John Bull, Churchill's Rosciad, and finally all Pope's poems, including the famous "Prologue" as well as the "Epilogue" to the Satires. It is curious to note how the satirical succession (if the phrase be permitted) is maintained uninterruptedly from Bishop Hall down to the death of Pope—nay, we may even say down to the age of Byron, to whose epoch one may trace something like a continuous tradition. Hall did not die until Dryden was twenty-seven years of age. Pope delighted to record that, when a boy of twelve years of age, he had met "Glorious John", though the succession could be passed on otherwise through Congreve, one of the most polished of English satirical writers, whom Dryden complimented as "one whom every muse and grace adorn", while to him also Pope dedicated his translation of the Iliad.[14] Bolingbroke, furthermore, was the friend and patron of Pope, while the witty St. John, in turn, was bound by ties of friendship to Mallet, who passed on the succession to Goldsmith, Sheridan, Ellis, Canning, Moore, and Byron. Thereafter satire begins to fall upon evil days, and the tradition cannot be so clearly traced.

But satire, during this "succession", did not remain absolutely the same. She changed her garb with her epoch. Thus the robust bludgeoning of Dryden and Shadwell, of Defoe, Steele, D'Urfey, and Tom Brown, gave place to the sardonic ridicule of Swift, the polished raillery of Arbuthnot, and the double-distilled essence of acidulous sarcasm present in the Satires of Pope. There is as marked a difference between the Drydenic and the Swiftian types of satire, between that of Cleiveland and that of Pope, as between the diverse schools known as the "Horatian" and the "Juvenalian". The cause of this, over and above the effect produced by prolonged study of these two classical models, was the overwhelming influence exercised on his age by the great French critic and satirist, Boileau. Difficult indeed it is for us at the present day to understand the European homage paid to Boileau. As Hannay says, "He was a dignified classic figure supposed to be the model of fine taste",[15] His word was law in the realm of criticism, and for many years he was known, not alone in France, but throughout a large portion of Europe, as "The Lawgiver of Parnassus". Prof. Dowden, referring to his critical authority, remarks:—

"The genius of Boileau was in a high degree intellectual, animated by ideas. As a moralist he is not searching or profound; he saw too little of the inner world of the heart, and knew too imperfectly its agitations. When, however, he deals with literature—and a just judgment in letters may almost be called an element in morals—all his penetration and power become apparent. To clear the ground for the new school of nature, truth, and reason was Boileau's first task. It was a task which called for courage and skill ... he struck at the follies and affectations of the world of letters, and he struck with force. It was a needful duty, and one most effectively performed.... Boileau's influence as a critic of literature can hardly be overrated; it has much in common with the influence of Pope on English literature, beneficial as regards his own time, somewhat restrictive and even tyrannical upon later generations."[16]

Owing to the predominance of French literary modes in England, this was the man whose influence, until nearly the close of last century, was paramount in England even when it was most bitterly disclaimed. Boileau's Satires were published during 1660-70, and he himself died in 1711; but, though dead, he still ruled for many a decade to come. This then was the literary censor to whom English satire of the post-Drydenic epochs owed so much. Neither Swift nor Pope was ashamed to confess his literary indebtedness to the great Frenchman; nay, Dryden himself has confessed his obligations to Boileau, and in his Discourse on Satire has quoted his authority as absolute. Before pointing out the differences between the Drydenic and post-Drydenic satire let us note very briefly the special characteristics of the former. Apart from the "matter" of his satire, Dryden laid this department of letters under a mighty obligation through the splendid service he rendered by the first successful application of the heroic couplet to satire. Of itself this was a great boon; but his good deeds as regards the "matter" of satiric composition have entirely obscured the benefit he conferred on its manner or technical form. Dryden's four great satires, Absalom and Achitophel, The Medal, MacFlecknoe, and the Hind and the Panther, each exemplify a distinct and important type of satire. The first named is the classical instance of the use of "historic parallels" as applied to the impeachment of the vices or abuses of any age. With matchless skill the story of Absalom is employed not merely to typify, but actually to represent, the designs of Monmouth and his Achitophel—Shaftesbury. The Medal reverts to the type of the classic satire of the Juvenalian order. It is slightly more rhetorical in style, and is partly devoted to a bitter invective against Shaftesbury, partly to an argument as to the unfitness of republican institutions for England, partly to a satiric address to the Whigs. The third of the great series, MacFlecknoe, is Dryden's masterpiece of satiric irony; a purely personal attack upon his rival, Shadwell, "Crowned King of Dulness, and in all the realms of nonsense absolute". Finally, the Hind and the Panther represents a new development of the "satiric fable". Dryden gave to British satire the impulse towards that final form of development which it received from the great satirists of the next century. There is little that appears in Swift, Addison, Arbuthnot, Pope, or even Byron, for which the way was not prepared by the genius of "Glorious John".

Of the famous group which adorned the reign of Queen Anne, Steele lives above all in his Isaac Bickerstaff Essays, the vehicle of admirably pithy and trenchant prose satire upon current political abuses. But, unfortunately for his own fame, his lot was to be associated with the greatest master of this form of composition that has appeared in literature, and the celebrity of the greater writer dimmed that of the lesser. Addison in his papers in the Tatler and the Spectator has brought what may be styled the Essay of Satiric Portraiture—in after days to be developed along other lines by Praed, Charles Lamb, Leigh Hunt, and R.L. Stevenson—to an unsurpassed standard of excellence. Such character studies as those of Sir Roger de Coverley, his household and friends, Will Honeycomb, Sir Andrew Freeport, Ned Softly, and others, possess an endless charm for us in the sobriety and moderation of the colours, the truth to nature, the delicate raillery, and the polished sarcasm of their satiric animadversions. Addison has studied his Horace to advantage, and to the great Roman's attributes has added other virtues distinctly English.

Arbuthnot, the celebrated physician of Queen Anne, takes rank among the best of English satirists by virtue of his famous work The History of John Bull. The special mode or type employed was the "allegorical political tale", of which the plot was the historic sequence of events in connection with the war with Louis XIV. of France. The object of the fictitious narrative was to throw ridicule on the Duke of Marlborough, and to excite among the people a feeling of disgust at the protracted hostilities. The nations involved are represented as tradesmen implicated in a lawsuit, the origin of the dispute being traced to their narrow and selfish views. The national characteristics of each individual are skilfully hit off, and the various events of the war, with the accompanying political intrigues, are symbolized by the stages in the progress of the suit, the tricks of the lawyers, and the devices of the principal attorney, Humphrey Hocus (Marlborough), to prolong the struggle. His Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus—a satire on the abuses of human learning,—in which the type of the fictitious biography is adopted, is exceedingly clever.

Finally, we reach the pair of satirists who, next to Dryden, must be regarded as the writers whose influence has been greatest in determining the character of British satire. Pope is the disciple of Dryden, and the best qualities of the Drydenic satire, in both form and matter, are reproduced in his works accompanied by special attributes of his own. Owing to the extravagant admiration professed by Byron for the author of the Rape of the Lock, and his repeated assurances of his literary indebtedness to him, we are apt to overlook the fact that the noble lord was under obligations to Dryden of a character quite as weighty as those he was so ready to acknowledge to Pope. But the latter, like Shakespeare, so improved all he borrowed that he has in some instances actually received credit for inventing what he only took from his great master. Pope was more of a refiner and polisher of telling satiric forms which Dryden had in the first instance employed, than an original inventor.

To mention all the types of satire affected by this marvellously acute and variously cultured poet would be a task of some difficulty. There are few amongst the principal forms which he has not essayed. In spirit he is more pungent and sarcastic, more acidulous and malicious, than the large-hearted and generous-souled Dryden. Into his satire, therefore, enters a greater amount of the element of personal dislike and contempt than in the case of the other. While satire is present more or less in nearly all Pope's verse, there are certain compositions where it may be said to be the outstanding quality. These are his Satires, among which should of course be included "The Prologue" and "The Epilogue" to them, as well as the Moral Essays, and finally the Dunciad. These comprise the best of his professed satires. His Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated are just what they claim to be—an adaptation to English scenes, sympathies, sentiments, and surroundings of the Roman poet's characteristic style. Though Pope has quite as many points of affinity with Juvenal as with Horace, the adaptation and transference of the local atmosphere from Tiber to Thames is managed with extraordinary skill. The historic parallels, too, of the personages in the respective poems are made to accord and harmonize with the spirit of the time. The Satires are written from the point of view of opposition to Sir Robert Walpole, the great Whig minister. They display the concentrated essence of bitterness towards the ministerial policy. As Minto tersely puts it, we see gathered up in them the worst that was thought and said about the government and court party when men's minds were heated almost to the point of civil war.[17] In the "Prologue" and the "Epilogue" are contained some of the most finished satiric portraits drawn by Pope in any of his works. For caustic bitterness, sustained but polished irony, and merciless sarcastic malice, the characters of Atticus (Addison), Bufo, and Sporus have never been surpassed in the literature of political or social criticism.[18]

The Dunciad is an instance of the mock-epic utilized for the purposes of satire. Here Pope, as regards theme, possibly had the idea suggested to him by Dryden's MacFlecknoe, but undoubtedly the heroic couplet, which the latter had first applied to satire and used with such conspicuous success, was still further polished and improved by Pope until, as Mr. Courthope says, "it became in his hands a rapier of perfect flexibility and temper". From the time of Pope until that of Byron this stately measure has been regarded as the metre best suited par excellence for the display of satiric point and brilliancy, and as the medium best calculated to confer dignity on political satire. The Dunciad, while personal malice enters into it, must not be regarded as, properly speaking, a malicious satire. From a literary censor's point of view almost every lash Pope administered was richly deserved. In this respect Pope has all Horace's fairness and moderation, while at the same time he exhibits not a little of Juvenal's depth of conviction that desperate diseases demand radical remedies.[19]

By the side of Pope stands an impressive but a mournful figure, one of the most tragic in our literature, to think of whom, as Thackeray says, "is like thinking of the ruin of a great empire". As an all-round satirist Jonathan Swift has no superior save Dryden, and he only by virtue of his broader human sympathies. In the works of the great Dean we have many distinct forms of satire. Scarce anything he wrote, with the exception of his unfortunate History of the Last Four Years of Queen Anne, but is marked by satiric touches that relieve the tedium of even its dullest pages. He has utilized nearly all the recognized modes of satiric composition throughout the range of his long list of works. In the Tale of a Tub he employed the vehicle of the satiric tale to lash the Dissenters, the Papists, and even the Church of England; in a word, the cant of religion as well as the pretensions of letters and the shams of the world. In the Battle of the Books the parody or travesty of the Romances of Chivalry is used to ridicule the controversy raging between Temple, Wotton, Boyle, and Bentley, regarding the comparative merits of ancient and modern writers. In Gulliver's Travels the fictitious narrative or mock journal is impressed into the service, the method consisting in adopting an absurd supposition at the outset and then gravely deducing the logical effects which follow. These three form the trio of great prose satires which from the epoch of their publication until now have remained the wonder and the delight of successive generations. Their realism, humorous invention, ready wit, unsparing irony, and keen ridicule have exercised as potent an attraction as their gloomy misanthropy has repelled. Among minor satires are his scathing attacks in prose and verse on the war party as a ring of Whig stock-jobbers, such as Advice to the October Club, Public Spirit of the Whigs, &c., the Virtues of Sid Hamet, The Magician's Wand (directed against Godolphin); his Polite Conversations and Directions to Servants are savage attacks on the inanity of society small-talk and the greed of the menials of the period. But why prolong the list? From the Drapier's Letters, directed against a supposed fraudulent introduction of a copper currency known as "Wood's Halfpence", to his skit on The Furniture of a Woman's Mind, there were few topics current in his day, whether in politics, theology, economics, or social gossip, which he did not attack with the artillery of his wit and satire. Had he been less sardonic, had he possessed even a modicum of the bonhomie of his friend Arbuthnot, Swift's satire would have exercised even more potent an influence than it has been its fortune to achieve.

Pope died in 1744, Swift in 1745. During their last years there were signs that the literary modes of the epoch of Queen Anne, which had maintained their ascendency so long, were rapidly losing their hold on the popular mind. A new literary period was about to open wherein new literary ideals and new models would prevail. Satire, in common with literature as a whole, felt the influence of the transitional era. As we have seen, it concerned itself largely with ridiculing the follies and eccentricities of men of letters and foolish pretenders to the title; also in lashing social vices and abuses. The political enmity existing between the Jacobites and the Hanoverians continued to afford occasion for the exchange of party squibs and lampoons. The lengthened popularity of Gay's Beggars' Opera, a composition wherein a new mode was created, viz. the satiric opera (the prototype of the comic opera of later days), affords an index to the temper of the time. It was the age of England's lethargy.

After the defeat of Culloden, satire languished for a while, to revive again during the ministry of the Earl of Bute, when everything Scots came in for condemnation, and when Smollett and John Wilkes belaboured each other in the Briton and the North Briton, in pamphlet, pasquinade, and parody, until at last Lord Bute withdrew from the contest in disgust, and suspended the organ over which the author of Roderick Random presided. The satirical effusions of this epoch are almost entirely worthless, the only redeeming feature being the fact that Goldsmith was at that very moment engaged in throwing off those delicious morceaux of social satire contained in The Citizen of the World. Johnson, a few years before, had set the fashion for some time with his two satires written in free imitation of Juvenal—London, and The Vanity of Human Wishes. But from 1760 onward until the close of the century, when Ellis, Canning, and Frere opened what may be termed the modern epoch of satire, the influence paramount was that of Goldsmith. Fielding and Smollett were both satirists of powerful and original stamp, but they were so much else besides that their influence was lost in that of the genial author of the Deserted Village and Retaliation. His Vicar of Wakefield is a satire, upon sober, moderate principles, against the vice of the upper classes, as typified in the character of Mr. Thornhill, while the sketch of Beau Tibbs in The Citizen of the World is a racy picture of the out-at-elbows, would-be man of fashion, who seeks to pose as a social leader and arbiter of taste when he had better have been following a trade.

The next revival of the popularity of satire takes place towards the commencement of the third last decade of the eighteenth century, when, using the vehicle of the epistolary mode, an anonymous writer, whose identity is still in dispute, attacked the monarch, the government, and the judicature of the country, in a series of letters in which scathing invective, merciless ridicule, and lofty scorn were united to vigour and polish of style, as well as undeniable literary taste.

After the appearance of the Letters of Junius, which, perhaps, have owed the permanence of their popularity as much to the interest attaching to the mystery of their authorship as to their intrinsic merits, political satire may be said to have once more slumbered awhile. The impression produced by the studied malice of the Letters, and the epigrammatic suggestiveness which appeared to leave as much unsaid as was said, was enormous, yet, strangely enough, they were unable to check the growing influence of the school of satire whereof Goldsmith was the chief founder, and from which the fashionable jeux d'esprit, the sparkling persiflage of the society flaneurs of the nineteenth century are the legitimate descendants.[20] The decade 1768-78, therefore—that decade when the plays of Goldsmith and Sheridan were appearing,—witnessed the rise and the development of that genial, humorous raillery, in prose and verse, of personal foibles and of social abuses, of which the Retaliation and the Beau Tibbs papers are favourable examples. These were the distinguishing characteristics of our satiric literature during the closing decade of the eighteenth century until the horrors of the French Revolution, and the sympathy with it which was apparently being aroused in England, called political satire into requisition once more. Party feeling ran high with regard to the principles enunciated by the so-called "friends of freedom". The sentiments of the "Constitutional Tories" found expression in the bitter, sardonic, vitriolic mockery visible in the pages of the Anti-Jacobin,[21] which did more to check the progress of nascent Radicalism and the movement in favour of political reform than any other means employed. Chief-justice Mansfield's strictures and Lord Braxfield's diatribes alike paled into insignificance beside these deadly, scorching bombs of Juvenal-like vituperation, which have remained unapproached in their specific line. As an example take Ellis's Ode to Jacobinism, of which I quote two stanzas:—

"Daughter of Hell, insatiate power! Destroyer of the human race, Whose iron scourge and maddening hour Exalt the bad, the good debase; When first to scourge the sons of earth, Thy sire his darling child designed, Gallia received the monstrous birth, Voltaire informed thine infant mind. Well-chosen nurse, his sophist lore, He bade thee many a year explore, He marked thy progress firm though slow, And statesmen, princes, leagued with their inveterate foe. Scared at thy frown terrific, fly The morals (antiquated brood), Domestic virtue, social joy, And faith that has for ages stood; Swift they disperse and with them go The friend sincere, the generous foe— Traitors to God, to man avowed, By thee now raised aloft, now crushed beneath the crowd."

Space only remains for a single word upon the satire of the nineteenth century. In this category would be included the Baeviad and the Maeviad by William Gifford (editor of the Anti-Jacobin), which, though first printed in the closing years of the eighteenth century, were issued in volume form in 1800. Written as they are in avowed imitation of Juvenal, Persius, and Horace, they out-Juvenal Juvenal by the violence of the language, besides descending to a depth of personal scurrility as foreign to the nature of true satire as abuse is alien to wit. They have long since been consigned to merited oblivion, though in their day, from the useful and able work done by their author in other fields of literature, they enjoyed no inconsiderable amount of fame. Two or three lines from the Baeviad will give a specimen of its quality:—

"For mark, to what 'tis given, and then declare, Mean though I am, if it be worth my care. Is it not given to Este's unmeaning dash, To Topham's fustian, Reynold's flippant trash, To Andrews' doggerel where three wits combine, To Morton's catchword, Greathead's idiot line, And Holcroft's Shug-lane cant and Merry's Moorfields Whine?"[22]

The early years of the present century still felt the influence of the sardonic ridicule which prevailed during the closing years of the previous one, and the satirists who appeared during the first decades of the former belonged to the robust or energetic order. Their names and their works are well-nigh forgotten.

We now reach the last of the greater satirists that have adorned our literature, one who is in many respects a worthy peer of Dryden, Swift, and Pope. Lord Byron's fame as a satirist rests on three great works, each of them illustrative of a distinct type of composition. Other satires he has written, nay, the satiric quality is present more or less in nearly all he produced; but The Vision of Judgment, Beppo, and Don Juan are his three masterpieces in this style of literature. They are wonderful compositions in every sense of the word. The sparkling wit, the ready raillery, the cutting irony, the biting sarcasm, and the sardonic cynicism which characterize almost every line of them are united to a brilliancy of imagination, a swiftness as well as a felicity of thought, and an epigrammatic terseness of phrase which even Byron himself has equalled nowhere else in his works. The Vision of Judgment is an example in the first instance of parody, and, in the second, but not by any means so distinctly, of allegory. Its savage ferocity of sarcasm crucified Southey upon the cross of scornful contempt. Byron is not as good a metrist as a satirist, and the Ottava rima in his hands sometimes halts a little; still, the poem is a notable example of a satiric parody written with such distinguished success in a measure of great technical difficulty.

It is somewhat curious that all three of Byron's great satiric poems should be written in the same measure. Yet so it is, for the poet, having become enamoured of the metre after reading Frere's clever satire, Whistlecraft, ever afterwards had a peculiar fondness for it. Both Beppo and Don Juan are also excellent examples of the metrical "satiric tale". The former, being the earlier satire of the two, was Byron's first essay in this new type of satiric composition. His success therein stimulated him to attempt another "tale" which in some respects presents features that ally it to the mock-epic. Beppo is a perfect storehouse of well-rounded satirical phrases that cleave to the memory, such as "the deep damnation of his 'bah'" and the description of the "budding miss",

"So much alarmed that she is quite alarming, All giggle, blush, half pertness and half pout".

Beppo leads up to Don Juan, and it is hard to say which is the cleverer satire of the two. In both, the wit is so unforced and natural, the fun so sparkling, the banter and the persiflage so bright and scintillating, that they seem, as Sir Walter Scott said, to be the natural outflow from the fountain of humour. Byron's earliest satire, English Bards and Scots Reviewers, is a clever piece of work, but compared with the great trio above-named is a production of his nonage.

Byron was succeeded by Praed, whose social pictures are instinct with the most refined and polished raillery, with the true Attic salt of wit united to a metrical deftness as graceful as it was artistic. During Praed's lifetime, Lamb with his inimitable Essays of Elia, Southey, Barham with the ever-popular Ingoldsby Legends, James and Horace Smith with the Rejected Addresses, Disraeli, Leigh Hunt, Tom Hood, and Landor had been winning laurels in various branches of social satire which, consequent upon the influence of Byron and then of his disciple, Praed, became the current mode. A favourable example of that style is found in Leigh Hunt's Feast of the Poets and in Edward Fitz-Gerald's Chivalry at a Discount. Other writers of satire in the earlier decades of the present century were Peacock, who in his novels (Crotchet Castle, &c.) evolved an original type of satire based upon the Athenian New Comedy. Miss Austen in her English novels and Miss Edgeworth in her Irish tales employed satire to impeach certain crying social abuses, as also did Dickens in Oliver Twist and others of his books. Douglas Jerrold's comedies and sketches are full of titbits of gay and brilliant banter and biting irony. If Sartor Resartus could be regarded as a satire, as Dr. Garnett says, Carlyle would be the first of satirists, with his thundering invective, grand rhetoric, indignant scorn, grim humour, and satiric gloom in denouncing the shams of human society and of human nature. An admirable American school of satire was founded by Washington Irving, of which Judge Haliburton (Sam Slick), Paulding, Holmes, Artemus Ward, and Dudley Warner are the chief names.

Since the third and fourth decades of our century, in other words, since the epoch of the Reform Bill and the Chartist agitation, satire has more and more tended to lose its acid and its venom, to slough the dark sardonic sarcasm of past days and to don the light sportive garb of the social humorist and epigrammist. Robustious bludgeoning has gone out of fashion, and in its place we have the playful satiric wit, sparkling as of well-drawn Moet or Clicquot, of Mortimer Collins, H.S. Leigh, Arthur Locker and Frederick Locker-Lampson, W.S. Gilbert, Austin Dobson, Bret Harte, F. Anstey, Dr. Walter C. Smith, and many other graceful and delightful social satirists whose verses are household words amongst us. From week to week also there appear in the pages of that trenchant social censor, Punch, and the other high-class comico-satiric journals, many pieces of genuine and witty social satire. Every year the demand seems increasing, and yet the supply shows no signs of running dry.

Political satire, in its metrical form, has had from time to time a temporary revival of popularity in such compositions as James Russell Lowell's inimitable Biglow Papers, as well as in more recent volumes, of which Mr. Owen Seaman's verse is an example; while are not its prose forms legion in the pages of our periodical press? It has, however, now lost that vitriolic quality which made it so scorching and offensively personal. The man who wrote nowadays as did Dryden, and Junius, and Canning, or, in social satire, as did Peter Pindar and Byron, would be forthwith ostracized from literary fellowship.

But what more need be said of an introductory character to these selections that are now placed before the reader? English satire, though perhaps less in evidence to-day as a separate department in letters, is still as cardinal a quality as ever in the productions of our leading authors. If satires are no longer in fashion, satire is perennial as an attribute in literature, and we have every reason to cherish it and welcome it as warmly as of old. The novels of Thackeray, as I have already said, contain some of the most delicately incisive shafts of satire that have been barbed by any writer of the present century. "George Eliot", also, though in a less degree, has shown herself a satirist of much power and pungency, while others of our latter-day novelists manifest themselves as possessed of a faculty of satire both virile and trenchant. It is one of the indispensable qualities of a great writer's style, because its quarry is one of the most widely diffused of existing things on the face of the globe. There is no age without its folly, no epoch without its faults. So long, therefore, as man and his works are imperfect, so long shall there be existent among us abuses, social, political, professional, and ecclesiastical, and so long, too, shall it be the province and the privilege of those who feel themselves called upon to play the difficult part of censor morum, to prick the bubbles of falsehood, vanity, and vice with the shafts of ridicule and raillery.

[Footnote 1: The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century.]

[Footnote 2: Cf. Lenient, History of French Satire.]

[Footnote 3: Thomson's Ante-Augustan Latin Poetry.]

[Footnote 4: Cf. Mackail; Paten, Etudes sur la Poesie latine.]

[Footnote 5: See Skeat's "Langland" in Encyclop. Brit.]

[Footnote 6: See Arber's Reprints for 1868.]

[Footnote 7: Arber's Select Reprints.]

[Footnote 8: Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury.]

[Footnote 9: This, of course, was Marston.]

[Footnote 10: From the Fifth Satire in The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image and Certain Satyres, by John Marston. 1598.]

[Footnote 11: Pasquil's Madcappe: Thrown at the Corruption of these Times—1626. Breton, to be read at all, ought to be studied in the two noble volumes edited by Dr. A.B. Grosart. From his edition I quote.]

[Footnote 12: English Literature, by Prof. Craik. Hannay's Satires and Satirists.]

[Footnote 13: Life of Dryden, by Sir Walter Scott. Saintsbury's Life of Dryden.]

[Footnote 14: Thackeray's English Humorists. Hannay's Satires and Satirists.]

[Footnote 15: Satire and Satirists, by James Hannay. Lecture III.]

[Footnote 16: Dowden's French Literature.]

[Footnote 17: Minto's Characteristics of English Poets.]

[Footnote 18: Cf. Saintsbury's Life of Dryden.]

[Footnote 19: Cf. Gosse, Eighteenth Century Literature.]

[Footnote 20: Thackeray's English Humorists.]

[Footnote 21: The Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin—Carisbrooke Library, 1890.]

[Footnote 22: The Baeviad and the Maeviad, by W. Gifford, Esq., 1800.]



ENGLISH SATIRES.

WILLIAM LANGLAND.

(1330?-1400?)

I. PILGRIMAGE IN SEARCH OF DO-WELL.

This opening satire constitutes the whole of the Eighth Passus of Piers Plowman's Vision and the First of Do-Wel. The "Dreamer" here sets off on a new pilgrimage in search of a person who has not appeared in the poem before—Do-Well. The following is the argument of the Passus.—"All Piers Plowman's inquiries after Do-Well are fruitless. Even the friars to whom he addresses himself give but a confused account; and weary with wandering about, the dreamer is again overtaken by slumber. Thought now appears to him, and recommends him to Wit, who describes to him the residence of Do-Well, Do-Bet, Do-Best, and enumerates their companions and attendants."

Thus y-robed in russet . romed I aboute Al in a somer seson . for to seke Do-wel; And frayned[23] full ofte . of folk that I mette If any wight wiste . wher Do-wel was at inne; And what man he myghte be . of many man I asked. Was nevere wight, as I wente . that me wisse kouthe[24] Where this leode lenged,[25] . lasse ne moore.[26] Til it bifel on a Friday . two freres I mette Maisters of the Menours[27] . men of grete witte. I hailsed them hendely,[28] . as I hadde y-lerned. And preede them par charite, . er thei passed ferther, If thei knew any contree . or costes as thei wente, "Where that Do-wel dwelleth . dooth me to witene". For thei be men of this moolde . that moost wide walken, And knowen contrees and courtes, . and many kynnes places, Bothe princes paleises . and povere mennes cotes,[29] And Do-wel and Do-yvele . where thei dwelle bothe. "Amonges us" quod the Menours, . "that man is dwellynge, And evere hath as I hope, . and evere shal herafter." "Contra", quod I as a clerc, . and comsed to disputen, And seide hem soothly, . "Septies in die cadit justus". "Sevene sithes,[30] seeth the book . synneth the rightfulle; And who so synneth," I seide, . "dooth yvele, as me thynketh; And Do-wel and Do-yvele . mowe noght dwelle togideres. Ergo he nis noght alway . among you freres: He is outher while ellis where . to wisse the peple." "I shal seye thee, my sone" . seide the frere thanne, "How seven sithes the sadde man, . on a day synneth; By a forbisne"[31] quod the frere, . "I shal thee faire showe. Lat brynge a man in a boot, . amydde the brode watre; The wynd and the water . and the boot waggyng, Maketh the man many a tyme . to falle and to stonde; For stonde he never so stif, . he stumbleth if he meve, Ac yet is he saaf and sound, . and so hym bihoveth; For if he ne arise the rather, . and raughte to the steere, The wynd wolde with the water . the boot over throwe; And thanne were his lif lost, . thorough lackesse of hymselve[32]. And thus it falleth," quod the frere, . "by folk here on erthe; The water is likned to the world . that wanyeth and wexeth; The goodes of this grounde arn like . to the grete wawes, That as wyndes and wedres . walketh aboute; The boot is likned to oure body . that brotel[33] is of kynde, That thorough the fend and the flesshe . and the frele worlde Synneth the sadde man . a day seven sithes. Ac[34] dedly synne doth he noght, . for Do-wel hym kepeth; And that is Charite the champion, . chief help ayein Synne; For he strengtheth men to stonde, . and steereth mannes soule, And though the body bowe . as boot dooth in the watre, Ay is thi soul saaf, . but if thou wole thiselve Do a deedly synne, . and drenche so thi soule, God wole suffre wel thi sleuthe[35] . if thiself liketh. For he yaf thee a yeres-gyve,[36] . to yeme[37] wel thiselve, And that is wit and free-wil, . to every wight a porcion, To fleynge foweles, . to fisshes and to beastes: Ac man hath moost thereof, . and moost is to blame, But if he werch wel therwith, . as Do-wel hym techeth." "I have no kynde knowyng,"[38] quod I, . "to conceyven alle your wordes: Ac if I may lyve and loke, . I shall go lerne bettre." "I bikenne thee Christ,"[39] quod he, . "that on cros deyde!" And I seide "the same . save you fro myschaunce, And gyve you grace on this grounde . goode men to worthe!"[40] And thus I wente wide wher . walkyng myn one,[41] By a wilderness, . and by a wodes side: Blisse of the briddes.[42] . Broughte me a-slepe, And under a lynde upon a launde[43] . lened I a stounde[44], To lythe the layes . the lovely foweles made, Murthe of hire mowthes . made me ther to slepe; The merveillouseste metels[45] . mette me[46] thanne That ever dremed wight . in worlde, as I wene. A muche man, as me thoughte . and like to myselve, Cam and called me . by my kynde name. "What artow," quod I tho, . "that thow my name knowest." "That woost wel," quod he, . "and no wight bettre." "Woot I what thou art?" . "Thought," seide he thanne; "I have sued[47] thee this seven yeer, . seye[48] thou me no rather."[49] "Artow Thought," quod I thoo, . "thow koudest me wisse, Where that Do-wel dwelleth, . and do me that to knowe." "Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde," quod he, "Arn thre fair vertues, . and ben noght fer to fynde. Who so is trewe of his tunge, . and of his two handes, And thorugh his labour or thorugh his land, . his liflode wynneth,[50] And is trusty of his tailende, . taketh but his owene, And is noght dronklewe[51] ne dedeynous,[52] . Do-wel hym folweth. Do-bet dooth ryght thus; . ac he dooth much more; He is as lowe as a lomb, . and lovelich of speche, And helpeth alle men . after that hem nedeth. The bagges and the bigirdles, . he hath to-broke hem alle That the Erl Avarous . heeld and hise heires. And thus with Mammonaes moneie . he hath maad hym frendes, And is ronne to religion, . and hath rendred the Bible, And precheth to the peple . Seint Poules wordes: Libenter suffertis insipientes, cum sitis ipsi sapientes: 'And suffreth the unwise' . with you for to libbe And with glad will dooth hem good . and so God you hoteth. Do-best is above bothe, . and bereth a bisshopes crosse, Is hoked on that oon ende . to halie men fro helle; A pik is on that potente,[53] . to putte a-down the wikked That waiten any wikkednesse . Do-wel to tene.[54] And Do-wel and Do-bet . amonges hem han ordeyned, To crowne oon to be kyng . to rulen hem bothe; That if Do-wel or Do-bet . dide ayein Do-best, Thanne shal the kyng come . and casten hem in irens, And but if Do-best bede[55] for hem, . thei to be there for evere. Thus Do-wel and Do-bet, . and Do-best the thridde, Crouned oon to the kyng . to kepen hem alle, And to rule the reme . by hire thre wittes, And noon oother wise, . but as thei thre assented." I thonked Thoght tho, . that he me thus taughte. "Ac yet savoreth me noght thi seying. . I coveit to lerne How Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best . doon among the peple." "But Wit konne wisse thee," quod Thoght, . "Where tho thre dwelle, Ellis woot I noon that kan . that now is alyve." Thoght and I thus . thre daies we yeden,[56] Disputyng upon Do-wel . day after oother; And er we were war, . with Wit gonne we mete.[57] He was long and lene, . lik to noon other; Was no pride on his apparaille . ne poverte neither; Sad of his semblaunt, . and of softe chere, I dorste meve no matere . to maken hym to jangle, But as I bad Thoght thoo . be mene bitwene, And pute forth som purpos . to preven his wittes, What was Do-wel fro Do-bet, . and Do-best from hem bothe. Thanne Thoght in that tyme . seide these wordes: "Where Do-wel, Do-bet, . and Do-best ben in londe, Here is Wil wolde wite, . if Wit koude teche him; And whether he be man or woman . this man fayn wolde aspie, And werchen[58] as thei thre wolde, . thus is his entente"

[Footnote 23: questioned.]

[Footnote 24: could tell me.]

[Footnote 25: Where this man dwelt.]

[Footnote 26: mean or gentle.]

[Footnote 27: of the Minorite order.]

[Footnote 28: I saluted them courteously.]

[Footnote 29: and poor men's cots.]

[Footnote 30: times.]

[Footnote 31: example.]

[Footnote 32: through his own negligence.]

[Footnote 33: weak, unstable.]

[Footnote 34: But.]

[Footnote 35: sloth.]

[Footnote 36: a year's-gift.]

[Footnote 37: to rule, guide, govern.]

[Footnote 38: mother-wit.]

[Footnote 39: I commit thee to Christ.]

[Footnote 40: to become.]

[Footnote 41: by myself.]

[Footnote 42: The charm of the birds.]

[Footnote 43: under a linden-tree on a plain.]

[Footnote 44: a short time.]

[Footnote 45: a most wonderful dream.]

[Footnote 46: I dreamed.]

[Footnote 47: followed.]

[Footnote 48: sawest.]

[Footnote 49: sooner.]

[Footnote 50: gains his livelihood.]

[Footnote 51: drunken.]

[Footnote 52: disdainful.]

[Footnote 53: club staff.]

[Footnote 54: to injure.]

[Footnote 55: pray.]

[Footnote 56: journeyed.]

[Footnote 57: we met Wit.]

[Footnote 58: work.]



GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

(1340?-1400.)

PORTRAITS FROM THE CANTERBURY TALES.

II. AND III. THE MONK AND THE FRIAR.

The following complete portraits of two of the characters in Chaucer's matchless picture of the Canterbury Pilgrims are taken from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

II.

A monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie,[59] An outrider, that loved venerie;[60] A manly man, to ben an abbot able. Ful many a deinte[61] hors hadde he in stable: And whan he rode, men might his bridel here Gingeling in a whistling wind as clere, And eke as loude, as doth the chapell belle, Ther as this lord was keeper of the celle. The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit, Because that it was olde and somdele streit, This ilke monk lette olde thinges pace,[62] And held after the newe world the space. He yaf not of the text a pulled hen,[63] That saith, that hunters ben not holy men; Ne that a monk, whan he is reckeles,[64] Is like to a fish that is waterles; That is to say, a monk out of his cloistre. This ilke text held he not worth an oistre. And I say his opinion was good. What? shulde he studie, and make himselven wood[65] Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore, Or swinken[66] with his hondes, and laboure, As Austin bit?[67] how shal the world be served? Let Austin have his swink to him reserved. Therfore he was a prickasoure[68] a right: Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight: Of pricking[69] and of hunting for the hare Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. I saw his sleves purfiled[70] at the hond With gris,[71] and that the finest of the lond. And for to fasten his hood under his chinne, He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne; A love-knotte in the greter end ther was. His hed was balled,[72] and shone as any glas, And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint. He was a lord ful fat and in good point. His eyen stepe,[73] and rolling in his hed, That stemed as a forneis of led.[74] His bootes souple, his hors in gret estat: Now certainly he was a fayre prelat. He was not pale as a forpined[75] gost. A fat swan loved he best of any rost, His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.

III.

A Frere[76] ther was, a wanton and a mery, A Limitour,[77] a ful solempne man. In all the ordres foure is none that can So muche of daliance and fayre langage. He hadde ymade ful many a mariage Of yonge wimmen, at his owen cost. Until[78] his ordre he was a noble post. Ful wel beloved, and familier was he With frankeleins[79] over all in his contree, And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun: For he had power of confessioun, As saide himselfe, more than a curat, For of his ordre he was a licenciat. Ful swetely herde he confession, And plesant was his absolution. He was an esy man to give penaunce, Ther as he wiste[80] to han[81] a good pitaunce: For unto a poure[82] ordre for to give Is signe that a man is wel yshrive.[83] For if he gaf, he dorste make avaunt,[84] He wiste that a man was repentaunt. For many a man so hard is of his herte, He may not wepe although him sore smerte. Therfore in stede of weping and praieres, Men mote[85] give silver to the poure freres. His tippet was ay farsed[86] ful of knives, And pinnes, for to given fayre wives. And certainly he hadde a mery note. Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote.[87] Of yeddinges[88] he bar utterly the pris. His nekke was white as the flour de lis. Therto he strong was as a champioun, And knew wel the tavernes in every toun, And every hosteler and tappestere, Better than a lazar or a beggestere, For unto swiche a worthy man as he Accordeth not, as by his faculte, To haven[89] with sike lazars acquaintance. It is not honest, it may not avance,[90] As for to delen with no swiche pouraille,[91] But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille. And over all, ther as profit shuld arise, Curteis he was, and lowly of servise. Ther nas no man no wher so vertuous. He was the beste begger in his hous: [And gave a certain ferme[92] for the grant, Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.] For though a widewe hadde but a shoo, (So plesant was his in principio) Yet wold he have a ferthing or[93] he went. His pourchas was wel better than his rent.[94] And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp, In lovedayes,[95] ther coude he mochel help. For ther he was nat like a cloisterere, With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere, But he was like a maister or a pope. Of double worsted was his semicope,[96] That round was as a belle out of the presse. Somwhat he lisped, for his wantonnesse, To make his English swete upon his tonge; And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe, His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright, As don the sterres in a frosty night. This worthy limitour was cleped Huberd.

[Footnote 59: a fair one for the mastership.]

[Footnote 60: hunting.]

[Footnote 61: dainty.]

[Footnote 62: pass.]

[Footnote 63: did not care a plucked hen for the text.]

[Footnote 64: careless; removed from the restraints of his order and vows.]

[Footnote 65: mad.]

[Footnote 66: toil.]

[Footnote 67: biddeth.]

[Footnote 68: hard rider.]

[Footnote 69: spurring.]

[Footnote 70: wrought on the edge.]

[Footnote 71: a fine kind of fur.]

[Footnote 72: bald.]

[Footnote 73: bright.]

[Footnote 74: Shone like a furnace under a cauldron.]

[Footnote 75: tormented.]

[Footnote 76: Friar.]

[Footnote 77: A friar with a licence to beg within certain limits.]

[Footnote 78: Unto.]

[Footnote 79: country gentlemen.]

[Footnote 80: knew.]

[Footnote 81: have.]

[Footnote 82: poor.]

[Footnote 83: shriven.]

[Footnote 84: durst make a boast.]

[Footnote 85: must.]

[Footnote 86: stuffed.]

[Footnote 87: a stringed instrument.]

[Footnote 88: story telling.]

[Footnote 89: have.]

[Footnote 90: profit.]

[Footnote 91: poor people.]

[Footnote 92: farm. This couplet only appears in the Hengwrt MS. As Mr. Pollard says, it is probably Chaucer's, but may have been omitted by him as it interrupts the sentence. Cf. Globe Chaucer.]

[Footnote 93: ere.]

[Footnote 94: The proceeds of his begging exceeded his fixed income.]

[Footnote 95: Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences.]

[Footnote 96: half cloak.]



JOHN LYDGATE.

(1373?-1460.)

IV. THE LONDON LACKPENNY.

This is an admirable picture of London life early in the fifteenth century. The poem first appeared among Lydgate's fugitive pieces, and has been preserved in the Harleian MSS.

To London once my steps I bent, Where truth in no wise should be faint; To Westminster-ward I forthwith went, To a man of Law to make complaint. I said, "For Mary's love, that holy saint, Pity the poor that would proceed!"[97] But for lack of money, I could not speed.

And, as I thrust the press among, By froward chance my hood was gone; Yet for all that I stayed not long Till to the King's Bench I was come. Before the Judge I kneeled anon And prayed him for God's sake take heed. But for lack of money, I might not speed.

Beneath them sat clerks a great rout,[98] Which fast did write by one assent; There stood up one and cried about "Richard, Robert, and John of Kent!" I wist not well what this man meant, He cried so thickly there indeed. But he that lacked money might not speed.

To the Common Pleas I yode tho,[99] There sat one with a silken hood: I 'gan him reverence for to do, And told my case as well as I could; How my goods were defrauded me by falsehood; I got not a mum of his mouth for my meed,[100] And for lack of money I might not speed.

Unto the Rolls I gat me from thence, Before the clerks of the Chancery; Where many I found earning of pence; But none at all once regarded me. I gave them my plaint upon my knee; They liked it well when they had it read; But, lacking money, I could not be sped.

In Westminster Hall I found out one, Which went in a long gown of ray;[101] I crouched and knelt before him; anon, For Mary's love, for help I him pray. "I wot not what thou mean'st", 'gan he say; To get me thence he did me bid, For lack of money I could not speed.

Within this Hall, neither rich nor yet poor Would do for me aught although I should die; Which seing, I gat me out of the door; Where Flemings began on me for to cry,— "Master, what will you copen[102] or buy? Fine felt hats, or spectacles to read? Lay down your silver, and here you may speed."

To Westminster Gate I presently went, When the sun was at high prime; Cooks to me they took good intent,[103] And proffered me bread, with ale and wine, Ribs of beef, both fat and full fine; A faire cloth they 'gan for to spread, But, wanting money, I might not then speed.

Then unto London I did me hie, Of all the land it beareth the prize; "Hot peascodes!" one began to cry; "Strawberries ripe!" and "Cherries in the rise!"[104] One bade me come near and buy some spice; Pepper and saffrone they 'gan me bede;[105] But, for lack of money, I might not speed.

Then to the Cheap I 'gan me drawn,[106] Where much people I saw for to stand; One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn; Another he taketh me by the hand, "Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land"; I never was used to such things indeed; And, wanting money, I might not speed.

Then went I forth by London stone, Throughout all the Canwick Street; Drapers much cloth me offered anon; Then comes me one cried, "Hot sheep's feet!" One cried, "Mackarel!" "Rushes green!" another 'gan greet;[107] One bade me buy a hood to cover my head; But for want of money I might not be sped.

Then I hied me into East Cheap: One cries "Ribs of beef and many a pie!" Pewter pots they clattered on a heap; There was harpe, pipe, and minstrelsy: "Yea, by cock!" "Nay, by cock!" some began cry; Some sung of "Jenkin and Julian" for their meed; But, for lack of money, I might not speed.

Then into Cornhill anon I yode Where there was much stolen gear among; I saw where hung my owne hood, That I had lost among the throng: To buy my own hood I thought it wrong; I knew it as well as I did my creed; But, for lack of money, I could not speed.

The Taverner took me by the sleeve; "Sir," saith he, "will you our wine assay?" I answered, "That cannot much me grieve; A penny can do no more than it may." I drank a pint, and for it did pay; Yet, sore a-hungered from thence I yede; And, wanting money, I could not speed.

Then hied I me to Billings-gate, And one cried, "Ho! go we hence!" I prayed a bargeman, for God's sake, That he would spare me my expense. "Thou 'scap'st not here," quoth he, "under twopence; I list not yet bestow any almsdeed." Thus, lacking money, I could not speed.

Then I conveyed me into Kent; For of the law would I meddle no more. Because no man to me took intent, I dight[108] me to do as I did before. Now Jesus that in Bethlehem was bore[109], Save London and send true lawyers their meed! For whoso wants money with them shall not speed.

[Footnote 97: go to law.]

[Footnote 98: crowd.]

[Footnote 99: went then.]

[Footnote 100: reward.]

[Footnote 101: striped stuff.]

[Footnote 102: exchange.]

[Footnote 103: notice.]

[Footnote 104: on the bough.]

[Footnote 105: offer.]

[Footnote 106: approach.]

[Footnote 107: call.]

[Footnote 108: set.]

[Footnote 109: born.]



WILLIAM DUNBAR.

(1460-1520?)

V. THE DANCE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS.

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