Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

Literature and Art. 
John Skelton, poet-laureat of his time, appears to have been known in 
the courts of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. quite as much in the chara6ter 
of a jeiler as in that of a poet. Poet-laureat was then a title or degree 
given in the univerfity of Oxford. His " Merye Tales" are all perfonal of 
himfelf, and we fhould be inclined to fay that his jefts and his poetry are 
equally bad. The former pieture him as holding a place fomewhere 
between Eulenfpiegel and the ordinary court-fool. VVe may give as a 
fample of the belt of them the tale No. I.- 
" Haw Slaelton came llama late to Oxfardfrom llbington. 
" Skelton was an Englysheman borne as Skogyn was, and hee was educated and 
hroughte up in Oxtoorde, and there was he made a poete lauriat. And on a tyme 
he had hen at Abbington to make mery, wher that he had eatc salte meates, and 
hec did com late home to Oxtorde, and he did lye in an ine named the Tabere, 
whyche is now the Angell, and hee dyd drynke, and went to bed. About mid- 
night he was so thyrstie or drye that he was constrained to call to the tapster for 
drynke, and the tapster harde him not. Then hee cryed to hys o.ste and hys ostes, 
and to the ostler, for drinke, and no man would here hym. Alacke, sayd Skelton, 
I shall peryshe for lacke of drynke! What reamedye? At the last he dyd crie 
out and sayd, Fyer, fyer, fyer! When Skelton hard every man bustle hymselte 
upward, and some ot them were naked, and some were halfe asleepc and amased, 
and Skelton dyd crye, Fier, tier! styll, that everye man knewe not whether to 
resorte. Skelton did go to bed, and the oste and ostis, and the tapster, with the 
ostler, dyd runne to Skeltons chamber with candles lyghted in theyr handes, saying, 
Where, where, where is the fyer? Here, here, here, said Skelton, and poynted hys 
fynger to hys mouth, saying, Fetch me some drynke to quenche the fyer and the 
heate and the drinesse in my mouthe. And so they dyd." 
Another of thefe " Merye Tales" of Skelton contains :-1 fatire upon 
the pracilice which prevailed in the flxteenth and early part of the 
feventeenth centuries of obtaining letters-patent of monopoly from the 
crown, and alfo on the bibulous propenfities of Welll1men-- 
" How tlze lVz[sl1man d_yd desyrz Skelton tn ajde l1_ym in l1_y: sure to tlze kyngzfbr a Patznt 
In sell drjnke. 
" Skelton, when he was in London, went to the kyngcs courte, where there did 
come to hym a Welshman, saying, Syr, it is so, that manye dooth come upp of my 
country to the kynges court, and some doth get of the kyng by patent a castell, and 
some a parke, and some a forest, and some one fee and some another, and they dooe 
lyve lyke honest men ; and I shoulcle lyve as honestly as the best, if I myght have 
a patyne for good drynvke, wherefore I dooe praye yow to write a tewe woords for 
mee in a lytle byll to geve the same to the kvnges handes, and I wil geve you well 


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