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36th year of the same King's reign, (1252,) forty shillings a year and a pipe of wine were given to Richard, the King's harper;' which perhaps gave rise at a subsequent period to a similar bounty to the officer now under our consideration. Gulielmus Peregrinus, who composed a poem on the crusade of Richard the First, appears to have been the royal poet of that time ;' and Robert Baston, whom Bale calls poeta Oxonii laureatus, and whom Edward the Second is said to have carried with him to the siege of Striveling Castle, to record his Scottish exploits in verse, may be considered as exercising the same office under that monarch. Of these versifiers, as they were then called, the composi
1 Hist. OF Eng. Poet. i. 48.
2 Bale. Cent. iii. 45. Tanner's Bibl. p. 591. Pits. p. 266.—He sung Richard's achievements in the Holy Land, in an heroick Latin Poem, entitled ODOEPORICON Regis.
3 Baston's poem, in monkish Latin hexameters, DE STRIVELINENSI Obsidione, is extant in Forduni Scori. CHRON. 1. 12. c. xxiii. Being taken by the Scotch in 1314, he was compelled by Robert Brus to purchase his ransom by writing a panegyrick on him. “ Jussu Ro. berti Brusii, tormentis compulsus erat, ut contrarium scriberet, quasi Scoti de Anglis triumphassent.” Pits, p. 319.-But finding (says A. Wood, Hist. Er AntiQ. UNIVER. Oxon. p. 101,) that he performed his task very, reluctantly, et quasi invitâ Minervâ, they dismissed him.-See also Bale. Cent. ii. 369, and MSS. Harl. 1819.
-85. Several of this poet's works are preserved in the Cotton Library. According to Bale and Pits, he composed a volume of tragedies and comedies in English.
tions produced in their character of Poets Laureate, were in Latin. Chaucer, perhaps, in the time of Edward the Third and Richard the Second, as a poet, and as receiving a royal pension, * not without a due allowance of sack,s and in the time of Henry the Fourth, Henry Scogan, Master of Arts, (who, if we may crédit Ben Jonson,“ “ made disguises for the King's sons, and wrote in fine tinkling rhyme and flowand verse, with now and then some sense,) with sufficient propriety may be enrolled in the same tuneful and honourable band ; yet neither these poets, nor Gower, though two of them are enumerated in Dryden's patent, as having worn the laurel, were ever regularly and expressly appointed to this office : nor does the title of POET LAUREATE occur earlier than the time of Edward the Fourth, to whom John Kay, about the year 1470, dedicating a prose translation of a Latin history of
4 Pat. 41 and 48 Ed. III.-1 and 17 Ric. II.It must be acknowledged, however, that it does not appear that any of the royal grants to Chaucer was made on account of his poetical merits. Skelton, describing Chaucer and Lydgate very particularly, mentions that they wanted nothing but the laurel. I have therefore said above,-perhaps.
i Pat. 48 Ed. III. 22 Ric. II.
O “ Masque of the Fortunate Isles,” Jonson's Works, fol. vol. ii. p. 135. The same writer adds, that “ he was paid for't ; regarded and rewarded.” Bale and Tanner have confounded this Henry Scogan with John Scogan, a Jester in the court of King Edward the Fourth, about the year 1480. The compositions which they have ascribed to John, are known to have been written by Henry Scogan,
the Siege of Rhodes, styles himself hys humble Poete Laureate.? None of his poetry, however, either in Latin or English, is known to be extant. Andrew Bernard, a Frenchman and an Augustine monk, who was blind, (as appears from a muniment in the Chief Remembrancer's office, from which I have given an extract in a former work,)* was successively Poet Laureate and Historiographer to Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth ;' and
* Selden's Titles of HONOUR, p. 466. edit. 1726. Kay's translation was formerly extant entire in the Cotton Library, Vitel. D. xii. and some fragments of it still remain; but so damaged by the fire which consumed part of that library in 1731, as to be illegible.
8 Shakspeare's Plays and Poems, vol. i. p. ii. p. 33.
9 Henry the Seventh, in the seeond year of his reign, (21 Nov. 1485) by bill under his sign manual, directed to the Bishop of Exeter, Keeper of his Privy Seal, granted to Andrew Bernard a pension of ten marks a year until he should be otherwise provided for. See Rymer's Manuscript Collections in the Museum, (in Ayscough's Ca. talogue, 4617).- Breve Hen. vii. A° 2. N° 12. Per Regem.--Reverende in Christo pater, nobis quampluri. mum dilecte, Salutem. Vobis mandamus quod sub pri. vato sigillo nostro in custodia vestra existente literas nos. tras cancellario nostro Angliæ dirigendas fieri faciatis, mandantes eidem quod sub magno sigillo nostro in custodia sua existente literas nostras patentes fieri faciat, in forma sequenti. Omnibus ad quos, &c. salutem. Sciatis quod nos, consideratione virtutis, scientia , incrementique, quod non nullis per doctrinam Bernardi Andreæ, POETÆ LAUREATI, tam in Universitate nostra Oxoniensi quam in aliis locis non paucis multipliciter profuerit, de gratia nostra speciali con.
was living in 1522. In 1489, John Skelton was laureated as a rhetorician at Oxford, and a few years afterwards was permitted to wear the laurel publicklyat Cambridge, previously to which he had been honoured by Henry the Seventh with a grant to wear either some peculiar dress, or some additional ornament on his ordinary apparel. That he was Poet Laureate to Henry the Eighth, may be presumed from the titles of some of his works." I have not, however, met with any proof of his
cessimus, et per presentes concedimus eidem Bernardo quandam annuitatem decem marcarum, per annum,” &c. Seven days afterwards, as appears from an instrument in the Pells-Office, a precept was directed by the same King to the Treasurer and Chamberlains of the Exchequer, to pay him the arreårs of his salary from the preceding Easter. Rymer. Foed, vol. xii. p. 317.-In this instru: ment it is expressly said, that a påtent in favour of Ber, nard had passed under the Great Seal ; but no such patent is now extant in the Chapel of the Rolls.
POETÆ LAUREATI may, however, as Mr. Warton bas observed, here mean, either the laureated poet,' as aboù e illustrated, or PQET LAUREATE.
Some of Andrew Bernard's compositions, which seem to have been written in his character of Poet Laureatę, are yet extant. They are in Latin. “A New Year's Gift" for 1515, is preserved in the archives of New College, Oxford (287): and the presentation copy of his “ Verses wishing prosperity to Henry the Eighth's thìr. teenth year," is in the Museum. MSS. Reg. 12 A. 10. Neither Bale, nor Pits, nor Tanner, has mentioned Bernard.
Some of Skelton's Latin poems, as Mr. Warton has remarked, seem to be written in the character of Royal VOL. I.
ever having received an annual salary from that prince, which is a criterion by which we may be enabled to form a conjecture at least concerning the possession of the office ; for none of the persons who may be considered as filling this station before our author, except Andrew Bernard, are expressly denominated Poets Laureate, in any grant that I have seen. Because Thomas Churchyard, a voluminous poetaster in the time of Queen Elizabeth, in consequence of having addressed many of the noblemen of her court for near forty years, in such rhymes as he could spin, is called by one of his contemporaries—the old Court Poet, he has been described by a modern fanciful writer, without a shadow of reason or probability, as peculiarly countenanced and patronized by that Queen ; by whom he is represented as formally placed at the head of the poetical band of that time : but undoubtedly Elizabeth had no Poet Laureate, till in Feb. 1590-1, she conferred on Spencer a pension of fifty pounds a year,' the grant of which was discovered some years ago in the Chapel of the Rolls; from which time to his death in 1598-9, he may
Poet Laureate ; particularly that entitled-—" Hæc laureatus Skeltonus, regina orator. Chorus, &c. de triumphali victoria, &c. It is subscribed " Per Skeltonida laure. atum, oratorem regium.” Erasmus, in a Letter to Henry the Eighth, speaking of this poet, thus writes: “ Skeltonum, Brytannicarum literarum lumen ac decus, qui tua studia possit non solum accendere, sed etiam consummare, hunc domi habes,” &c. Bale. Cent. viii. p. 651.
Pat. 33 Eliz. p. 3.