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OF ANCIENT POETRY,
SERIES THE SECOND
CARDINAL, AND A HUSBANDMAN.
In the former Book we brought down this second Series of poems, as low as about the middle of the fixteenth cena, tury. We now find the Mufes deeply engaged in religious controversy. The sudden revolution, wrought in the opinions of mankind by the Reformation, is one of the most striking events in the history of the human mind. It could not but engross the attention of every individual in that age, and therefore no other writings would have any chance to be read, but such as related to this grand topic. The alterations made in the established religion by Henry VIII, the sudVol. II.
den changes it underwent in the three fucceeding reigns with in fo short a space as eleven or twelve years, and the violent fruggles bet ween expiring Popery, and growing Protestantism, could not but interest all mankind. Accordingly every pen was engaged in the dispute. The followers of the old and New Profession ( as they were called) had their respective Ballad-makers; and every day produced some popular sonnet for or against the Reformation. The following ballad, and that intitled LITTLE JOHN NOBODY, may serve for specimens of the writings of each party.
Both were written in the reign of Edward VI ; aná are not the worst that were composed upon the occasion. Controverfial divinity is no friend to poetic flights. Yet this ballad of “ Luther and the Pope,” is not altogether devoid of spirit ; it is of the dramatic kind, and the characters are tolerably well suftained; especially that of Luther, which is made to speak in a manner not unbecoming the spirit and courage of that vigorous Reformer. It is printed from the original black-letter copy (in the Pepys collection, vol. 1. folio,) to which is prefixed a large wooden cut, designed and executed by some emin nent master. This is copied in miniature in the small Engraving inserted above.
We are not to wonder that the Ballad-writers of that age should be inspired with the zeal of controversy, when the very stage teemed with polemic divinity. I have now before me two very ancient quarto black-letter plays : the one published in the time of Henry VIII, intitled, Every Mari; the other called Luffy Juventus, printed in the reign of Edward VI. In the former of these, occasion is taken to inculcate great' reverence for old mother church and her superstitions t: in the other, the poet (one R.
+ Take a specimen from bis high encomiums on the priesthood,
“ There is no emperour, kyng, duke, ne baron
« God bash to ibeni more power gyven, « Tbar to ary aungeli, iba: is in beven;
Wever) with great success attacks both. So that the Stage in those days literally' was, what wise men have always wished it,-a supplement to the pulpit :-This was so much the case, that in the play of Lusty Juventus, chapter and verse are every where quoted as formally, as in a sermon ; take an instance,
“ The Lord by his prophet Ezechiel sayeth in this wise
playnlye, “ As in the xxxiij chapter it doth appere : “ Be converted, Oye children, &c."
From this play we learn that most of the young people were New Gospellers, or friends to the Reformation ; and that the old were tenacious of the doétrines imbibed in their youth : for thus the Devil is introduced lamenting the downfal of Superftition,
“ The olde people would believe stil in
lawes, “ But the yonger fort leade them a contrary way,
They wyl not beleve, they playnly say, “ In olde traditions, and made by men, &c.”
• With v. words he may consecrate
gave preest that dignitè, « And letteth them in bis ftede amonge us be, * Tbus be they above aungels in degre.”.
See Hawkins's Orig. of Eng. Drama. Vol. I. p. 61,
And in another place Hypocrisy urges,
66 The worlde was never meri
Of the plays abovementioned, to the first is fubjoined the folo lowing Prinier's Colophon, Tlus endoth this moral playe of Every Can. ( Jinprynted at London in Powles chyrche yarde by mne John Skot. In Mr. Garrick's collection is an imperfeet copy of the same play, printed by Richarde Pynlon.
The other is intitled, In enterlude called Luftp Juventus: and is thus distinguished at the end : Finis. quod 6. Wever. Imprinted at London in Pauies churche pcard, by Abraham Dcle at the tigne of the Lambe. Of this too Mr. Garrick has an imperfect copy of a different edition.
Of these two Plays, the Reader may find some further para ticulars in the former Volume, Book II. Jee The EssAY ON THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH STAGE ; and the curious Reader will find the Plays themselves printed at large in HAWKINS's “ Origin of the English Drama.”
vols. Oxford. 1773. 12mo.
ET us lift up our hartes all,
And prayse the lordes magnificence,
And is become our strong defence :
5 From Christes bloude dyd all us leade f,
Gettynge fi. e. denied us the Cup. see below, ver. 94.