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With Elinor Rumming,
Skog. Or, what do you say to Ruffian Fitz-Ale? Johp. An excellent sight, if he be not too stale. But then we can mix him with modern Vapors, The child of tobacco, his pipes, and his papers.
Mere. You talk'd of Elinor Rumming, I had rather See Ellen of Troy.
6 With Elinor Rumming,
To make up the mumming, &c.] These are Skelton's own verses in his ballad on Eleanor Rumming, the old ale-wife. WHAL.
Jonson was evidently fond of Skelton, and frequently imitates his short titupping style, which is not his best. I know Skelton only by the modern edition of his works, dated 1736. But from this stupid publication I can easily discover that he was no ordinary man. Why Warton and the writers of his school rail at him so vehemently, I know not; he was perhaps the best scholar of his day, and displays, on many occasions, strong powers of description, and a vein of poetry that shines through all the rubbish which ignorance has spread over it. He flew at high game, and therefore occasionally called in the aid of vulgar ribaldry to mask the direct attack of his satire. This was seen centuries ago, and yet we are now instituting a process against him for rudeness and indelicacy! "By what means," says Grange, (who wrote about the beginning of Elizabeth's reign,) "could Skelton, that laureat poet, have uttered his mind so well at large, as thorowe his cloke of mery conceytes, as in his Speake Parrot, Ware the Hawke, The Tunning of Elinor Rumming, Why come ye not to the Court, &c. Yet what greater sense or better matter can be, than is in this ragged rhyme contayned? Or who would have hearde his fault so playnely told him, if not in such gibyng sorte?" The Golden Aphroditis.
Johp. Her you shall see :
That Mary Ambree
Fohp. Ay, that! that! that!
We'll have 'em all,
As the ballad doth vaunt.] The ballad, of which the first stanza follows, is re-published in Percy's Reliques, vol. ii. p. 218.
"When captains courageous, whom death colde not daunte, Did march to the siege of the cittye of Gaunte,
They mustred their souldiers by two and by three,
8 Or Westminster Meg.] There is a penny story-book of this tremendous virago, who performed many wonderful exploits about the time that Jack the Giant-killer flourished. She was buried, as all the world knows, in the cloisters of Westminster abbey, where a huge stone is still pointed out to the Whitsuntide visitors as her grave-stone.
The ANTIMASQUE follows,
Consisting of these twelve persons, HOWLEGLASS, the four Knaves, two Ruffians, (FITZ-ALE and VAPOR,) ELINOR RUMMING, MARY AMBREE, LONG MEG of Westminster, TOM THUMB, and doctor RAT.
They DANCE, and withdraw.
Mere. What, are they vanish'd! where is skipping Skelton?
Or moral Skogan? I do like their shew,
The company of [the] players. Go, you are,
When all the Fortunate Islands should be join'd,
9 The company of [the] players.] Professional actors, as has been already observed, were sometimes employed in the Antimasques, more especially where they were of a very grotesque and ridiculous
Instructed to adhere to your Britannia :
Here the scene opens, and the Masquers are discovered sitting in their several sieges. The air opens above, and APOLLO, with HARMONY, and the Spirits of Music sing, the while the Island moves forward, PROTEUS sitting below, and hearkening.
Look forth, the shepherd of the seas,
The winds are sweet and gently blow,
Cho. Then, think it not a common cause,
By this time, the island having joined itself to the shore, PROTEUS, PORTUNUS, and SARON come forth, and go up singing to the state, while the Masquers take time to rank themselves.
Pro. Ay, now, the heights of Neptune's honours shine,
To speak it blessed!
These are the true groves
Where joys are born.
Sar. That live!
No intermitted wind
Blows here, but what leaves flowers or fruit behind. Cho.'Tis odour all that comes!
And where loves!
And every tree doth give his gums.
Pro. There is no sickness, nor no old age known
Por. And light Anacreon,
Por. Here, all the day, they feast, they sport, and spring,
Stesichorus there, too,
That Linus and old Orpheus doth outdo
And Amphion! he is there.
Nor is Apollo dainty to appear