John Skelton: The Critical Heritage

By Anthony S. G.Edwards | Go to book overview

State: if mother Hubbard in the vaine of Chawcer, happened to tell one Canicular ( 1) tale; father Elderton, ( 2) and his sonne Greene, in the vaine of Skelton, or Scoggin, will counterfeitan an hundred dogged Fables, Libles, Calumnies, Slaunders, Lies for the whetstone, what not, and most currishly snarle and bite where they should most kindly fawne and licke.


Notes
1
Literally ‘to do with a dog’; cf. the punning reference to ‘an hundred dogged Fables…’.
2
William Elderton (d. 1592?), an Elizabethan actor and ballad writer.

15.

ARTHUR DENT ON SKELTON’S IMMORAL WORKS

c. 1590

From ‘The Plaine Man’s Pathway to Heaven’, first published in 1601 (STC 6626), a didactic work written earlier (c. 1590) by the puritan Arthur Dent (d. 1607). The extract is taken from pp. 408-9. ‘Elynor Rumming’ is linked here with a number of popular and (by Dent’s standards) immoral works: ‘The Court of Venus’, first published c. 1538 (STC 24650); William Painter’s ‘The Palace of Pleasure’, which appeared in at least five editions from 1565 (STC 19121-5); the enormously popular ‘Bevis of Hampton’, of which there are at least ten pre-1640 editions (STC 1987-96); ‘The Merry Jest of the Friar and the Boy’, first published c. 1580 and surviving in five editions (STC 14522-4.3); ‘Clem of the Clough, Adam Bell…’, extant in at least eight edition (STC 1806-13); and ‘The Pretie Conceit of John Splinters last will and Testament’ (STC 23102), published c. 1520. (I have been unable to identify ‘The odd tale of William, Richard and Homfrey’.) All these works are condemned in the course of the following dialogue, together with Skelton’s poem, as Catholic ploys to divert men from the proper study of the Bible. For comparable lists of popular works involving Skelton see the extracts from Puttenham (No. 13b) and Drayton (No. 16).

-63-

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