as I told you before) skulking in Duck-lane, pitifully totter’d and torn, and as the times are, I do not think it worth the labour and cost to put him in better clothes, for the Genius of the Age is quite another thing: yet ther be som Lines of his, which I think will never be out of date for their quaint sense; and with these I will close this Letter, and salute you, as he did his friend with these options:
Salve plus decies quam sunt momenta dierum,
Quot species generum, quot pes, quot nomina perurn,
Quot pratis flores, quot sunt et in orbe colores,
Quot pisces, quot aves, quot sunt et in aequore naves,
Quot volucrum Pennae, quot sunt tormenta Gebennae,
Quot coeli stellae, Quot sunt miracula Thomae,
Quot sunt virtutes, tantas tibi mitto salutes. ( 1)
These were the wishes in times of yore of Jo. Skelton, but now they are of Your J.H.
From the ‘Worthies of England’ (1662), pp. 257-8, by Thomas Fuller (1608-61), bishop and chaplain in extraordinary to Charles II. The ‘Worthies’ is a series of lives of eminent Englishmen.
John Skelton is placed in this County, on a double probability. First, because an ancient family of his name is eminently known long fixed therein. Secondly, because he was beneficed at Dis, a Market-town in Norfolk. He usually styles himself (and that Nemine contradicente [without contradiction], for ought I find) the King’s Orator and Poet Laureat. We need go no further for a