« AnteriorContinuar »
him break Skogan's head' at the court gate, when he was a crack, not thus high: and the very same
7-SKOGAN's head-] Who Skogan was, may be understood from the following passage in The Fortunate Isles, a masque, by Ben Jonson, 1626:
Methinks you should enquire now after Skelton, "And master Scogan.
Scogan? what was he?
"Oh, a fine gentleman, and a master of arts
Among the works of Chaucer is a poem called " Scogan unto the Lordes and Gentilmen of the Kinge's House." STEEVENS.
In the written copy, (says the editor of Chaucer's Works, 1598,) the title hereof is thus: "Here followethe a morall ballade to the Prince, now Prince Henry, the Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Gloucester, the kinges sons, by Henry Scogan, at a supper among the merchants in the vintrey at London, in the house of Lewis John." The purport of the ballad is to dissuade them from spending their youth "folily."
John Skogan, who is said to have taken the degree of master of arts at Oxford," being (says Mr. Warton) an excellent mimick, and of great pleasantry in conversation, became the favourite buffoon of the court of King Edward IV." Bale and Tanner have confounded him with Henry Scogan, if indeed they were distinct persons, which I doubt. The compositions which Bale has attributed to the writer whom he supposes to have lived in the time of Edward IV. were written by the poet of the reign of Henry IV. which induces me to think that there was no poet or master of arts of this name, in the time of Edward. There might then have been a jester of the same name. Scogin's Jests were published by Andrew Borde, a physician in the reign of Henry VIII. They were entered in the Stationers' books in 1565, by Thomas Colwell and were probably published in that year. Shakspeare had probably met with this book; and as he was very little scrupulous about anachronisms, this person, and not Henry Scogan, the poet of the time of Henry IV. may have been in his thoughts: I say may, for it is by no means certain, though the author of Remarks on the last edition of Shakspeare, &c. has asserted it with that confidence which distinguishes his observations.
Since this note was written, I have observed that Mr. Tyrwhitt agrees with me in thinking that there was no poet of the name of Scogan in the time of King Edward IV. nor any ancient poet of that name but Henry Scogan, Master of Arts, who lived in the time of King Henry IV. and he urges the same argument that I
day did I fight with one Sampson Stockfish, a fruiterer, behind Gray's-inn. O, the mad days that I
have done, namely, that the compositions which Bale ascribes to the supposed John Scogan, were written by Henry. Bale and Tanner were, I believe, Mr. Warton's only authority.
"As to the two circumstances (says Mr. Tyrwhitt,) of his being a master of arts of Oxford, and jester to the king, I can find no older authority for it than Dr. Borde's book. That he was contemporary with Chaucer, but so as to survive him several years, perhaps till the reign of Henry V. is sufficiently clear from this poem [the poem mentioned in the former part of my note].
Shakspeare seems to have followed the jest book, in considering Scogan as a mere buffoon, when he mentions as one of Falstaff's boyish exploits that he broke Scogan's head at the courtgate." Tyrwhitt's Chaucer, vol. v. Pref.
"Among a number of people of all sorts who had letters of protection to attend Richard II. upon his expedition into Ireland in 1399, is Henricus Scogan, Armiger." Ibidem, p. xv.
This was John Scogan, jester to King Edward IV. and not Henry, the poet, who lived long before, but is frequently confounded with him. Our author, no doubt, was well read in John's Jests, "gathered by Andrew Boarde, doctor of physick," and printed in 4to. and black letter, but without date; and his existence, which has been lately called in question, (for what may not be called in question?) is completely ascertained by the following characteristic epitaph, accidentally retrieved from a contemporary manuscript in the Harleian library (No. 1587):
Hic iacet in tumulo corpus Scogan ecce Johannis; Sit tibi pro speculo, letus fuit eius in annis: Leti transibunt, transitus vitare nequibunt ; Quo nescimus ibunt, vinosi cito peribunt. Holinshed, speaking of the great men of Edward the Fourth's time, mentions "Scogan, a learned gentleman, and student for a time in Oxford, of a pleasaunte witte, and bent to mery deuises, in respect whereof he was called into the courte, where giuing himselfe to his naturall inclination of mirthe and pleasant pastime, he plaied many sporting parts, althoughe not in suche vnciuill maner as hath bene of hym reported." These uncivil reports, evidently allude to the above jest-book, a circumstance of whieh no one who consults it will have the least doubt. See also Bale's Scriptores Britanniæ, and Tanner's Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica, art. Skogan. After all, there is some reason to believe that John was actually a little bit of a poet. Drayton, in his preface to his Eclogues, says, that "the Colin Clout of Scogan, under
have spent! and to see how many of mine old acquaintance are dead!
SIL. We shall all follow, cousin.
SHAL. Certain, 'tis certain; very sure, very sure: death, as the Psalmist saith, is certain to all; all shall die. How a good yoke of bullocks at Stam
SIL. Truly, cousin, I was not there.
SHAL. Death is certain.-Is old Double of your town living yet.
Henry the Seventh, is pretty;" clearly meaning some pastoral under that title, and of that age, which he must have read, and, consequently, not Skelton's poem so called, nor any thing of Spenser's. Langham, in his enumeration of Captain Cox's library, notices" the Seargeaunt that became a Fryar, Skogan, Čollyn Cloout, the Fryar and the Boy, Elynor Rumming, and the Nutbrooun Maid;" and that, by Skogan, the writer does not mean his Jests, is evident, from the circumstance of all the rest being poetical tracts. He is elsewhere named in company with Skelton; and, in support of this idea, one may refer to the facetious epigram he wrote on taking his degree, at Oxford, of Master of Arts. Mr. Tyrwhitt's opinion will, on all occasions, be intitled to attention and respect; but no opinion can have any weight whatever against a positive and incontrovertible fact. RITSON.
Mr. Ritson has maintained the same opinion in his Bibliographia Poetica, with ludicrous vehemence. The only argument he has produced to show that John Scogan was a poet, namely, the quotation from Drayton, will by no means prove his point. Drayton, or his printer, may have mistaken Scogan for Skelton, for it is not so clear that he meant that Colin Clout was a pastoral, if we read what follows: "The Colin Clout of Scogan under Henry the Seventh is pretty, but Barclay's Ship of Fools hath twenty wiser in it." The Ship of Fools was certainly not a pastoral. It is admitted that the date given by Drayton, "under Henry the Seventh," is wrong; and Mr. Ritson, in his Bibliographia, corrects it to Edward the Fourth. It may as well have been Henry IV. which might more easily be mistaken for Henry VII. The facetious epigram alluded to, which Mr. Ritson has given in his Bibliographia, will go a very little way towards proving him a poet. BOSWELL. 8 CRACK,] This is an old Islandic word, signifying a boy or child. One of the fabulous kings and heroes of Denmark, called Hrolf, was surnamed Krake. See the story in Edda, Fable 63.
SIL. Dead, sir.
SHAL. Dead-See, see!-he drew a good bow ;-And dead!-he shot a fine shoot:-John of Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on his head. Dead!-he would have clapped i' the clout at twelve score1; and carried you a forehand shaft a fourteen and fourteen and a half', that it would have done a man's heart good to see.-How a score of ewes now?
clapped i' the clout] i. e. hit the white mark. WARBURTON. So, in King Lear: "O, well flown, bird!- the clout, i the clout." STEEVENS.
- at twelve score ;] i. e. of yards. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, 1612:
"At markes full fortie score they us'd to prick and rove."
This mode of expression, certainly in this instance, and I believe in general, means yards; but the line from Drayton makes this opinion doubtful, or shows the extreme inaccuracy of the poet, for no man was ever capable of shooting an arrow forty score yards. DOUCE.
fourteen, and fourteen and a half,] That is, fourteen score of yards. JOHNSON.
Twelve score appears, however, from a passage in Churchyard's Charitie, 1595, to have been no shot of an extraordinary length: They hit the white that never shot before,
"No marke-men sure, nay bunglers in their kind,
The utmost distance that the archers of ancient times reached, is supposed to have been about three hundred yards. Old Double therefore certainly drew a good bow. MALONE.
Shakspeare probably knew what he was about when he spoke of archery, which in his time was practised by every one. He is describing Double as a very excellent archer, and there is no inconsistency in making such a one shoot fourteen score and a half; but it must be allowed that none but a most extraordinary archer would be able to hit a mark at twelve score. Some allowance, however, should be made when the speaker is considered. DOUCE.
The long field (I believe at Finsbury) is 16 score 10 yards. A Mr. Bates once shot an arrow near 30 yards beyond the bound of it, which was 18 score. Mr. John Rowston, of Manchester, has often shot 18 score. MISS BANKS.
SIL. Thereafter as they be: a score of good ewes may be worth ten pounds.
SHAL. And is old Double dead!
Enter BARDOLPH, and one with him.
SIL. Here come two of sir John Falstaff's men, as I think.
BARD. Good morrow, honest gentlemen *: I beseech you, which is justice Shallow?
SHAL. I am Robert Shallow, sir; a poor esquire of this county, and one of the king's justices of the peace: What is your good pleasure with me?
BARD. My captain, sir, commends him to you: my captain, sir John Falstaff: a tall gentleman, by heaven, and a most gallant leader.
SHAL. He greets me well, sir; I knew him a good backsword man: How doth the good knight? may I ask, how my lady his wife doth ?
BARD. Sir, pardon; a soldier is better accommodated, than with a wife.
SHAL. It is well said, in faith, sir; and it is well said indeed too. Better accommodated!-it is good; yea, indeed, it is: good phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable. Accommodated!-it comes from accommodo: very good; a good phrase ".
* Folio gives Good morrow, honest gentlemen, to Shallow. very good; a good phrase, &c.] Accommodate was a modish term of that time, as Ben Jonson informs us: "You are not to cast or wring for the perfumed terms of the time, as accommodation, complement, spirit, &c. but use them properly in their places as others." Discoveries. Hence Bardolph calls it a word of exceeding good command. His definiton of it is admirable, and highly satirical: nothing being more common than for inaccurate speakers or writers, when they should define, to put their hearers off with a synonymous term; or, for want of that, even with the same term differently accommodated: as in the instance before us. WARBURTON.
The same word occurs in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour :