Antile: …If you will goe home with me, I can giue you a speedy remedy: for I haue many pleasant and merry bookes, which if you should heare them read, would soone remedy you of this melancholy. I haue the Court of Venus, the Pallace of pleasure, Beuis of Southampton, Ellen of Rumming, The mery Jest of the Friar and the Boy: The pleasaunt story of Clem of the Clough, Adam Bell, and William of Cloudesley. The Odde Tale of William, Richard, and Homfrey. The pretie Conceit of John Splinters last will, and Testament: which al are excellent and singular bookes against hartquames: and to remove such dumpishnesse, as I see you are now fallen into.
Asune: Youre vaine and friuolous bookes of Tales, Iests and lies, would more increase my griefe, & strike the print of sorrow deeper into my heart.
Phila: …How came you by all these good bookes? I should haue saide, so much trashe, and rubbish…. They be goodly geare, trimme stuffe. They are good to kindle a fire, or to scoure a hotte Oven withall. And shal I tel you mine opinion of them? I doo thus thinke, that they were deuised by the diuel: seene, and allowed by the Pope: Printed in hel: bound vp by Hobgoblin: and first published and dispearsed in Rome, Italy and Spaine. And all to this ende, that thereby men might be kept from the reading of the Scriptures.
(a) From the play ‘The first part of the True Honorable Historic of the life of Sir John Oldcastle’ (1600) by Michael Drayton (1563-1631), H 2r (STC 18795). All the works alluded to were highly popular works: there were at least ten editions of ‘Bevis of Hampton’ up to 1640 (STC 1987-96), two of ‘Owleglasse’ (STC 10563-4), three of ‘The Friar and the Boy’ (STC 14522-4.3), and seven of ‘Robin Hood’ in its various forms (STC 13687-93). For comparable lists of popular works including Skelton see the extracts from Arthur Dent (No. 15) and Puttenham (No. 13b).