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was then, and long after, not unusual. At what period he commenced his career as a poet it is, as Mr. Dyce remarks, impossible to determine. He wrote an elegy on the death of Edward IV., which occurred in 1483; and in 1489 he produced another upon the Earl of Northumberland, who had been slain during a popular insurrection in Northumberland. By 1490 we know, from the passage already quoted from Caxton, that he had distinguished himself as a translator in prose of some of the Latin classics, and that he had been "late created poet laureat in the university of Oxenford." The title of poet laureat did not then signify the same as is now understood by the term. It was not an office, but simply a "degree in grammar, which included rhetoric and versification, anciently taken at our universities, particularly at Oxford; on which occasion a wreath of laurel was presented to the new graduate, who was afterwards usually styled poeta laureatus." (Warton.) At a later period he received some office about the king which entitled him to wear a peculiar dress: at the end of many of his poems he styles himself poet laureat and king's orator. The dress appears to have been green and white, and to have had embroidered on it the word Calliope, as we learn from his own account of it in his poems Against Garnesche,' and in his Calliope.' In 1498 he took holy orders, and probably about the same time he was appointed tutor to the Duke of York, afterwards Henry VIII., a sufficient evidence of the eminence he had then attained. He had before this received honorary distinctions from the universities of Cambridge and of Louvain. What influence his teaching may have had upon his youthful charge can only be a matter of conjecture, and one astounding guess has been made of late. Miss Strickland, in her 'Lives of the Queens of England' (vol. iv. p. 104), says :- "It is affirmed that Skelton had been tutor to Henry in some department of his education. How probable it is that the corruption imparted by this ribald and ill-living wretch laid the foundation for his royal pupil's grossest crimes!" But, as Mr. Dyce remarks in quoting this passage, “When ladies attempt to write history, they sometimes say odd things;" we will, therefore, as it is only a guess, let it pass. As Hooker has it, "A man that did mean to prove that he speaketh would surely have taken the measure of his words shorter." We have every reason to believe that Skelton was a careful tutor; he appears to have been the general director of Henry's early education, and he was not thought to have been unsuccessful in it. Erasmus complimented Henry upon his tutor, whom he speaks of as a highly cultivated scholar and an excellent divine: he himself says:

"That the Duke of Yorkis creauncer* when Skelton was,

Now Henry the Eighth, King of England,

A treatise he devised, and brought it to pass,
Called Speculum Principis, to bear in his hand
Therein to read, and to understand

All the demeanour of princely estate,

To be our king of God preordinate."—Garland of Laurel.

All his writings up to this time appear to have been of a serious cast. When his connection with the court ceased is unknown, as is also the exact time of his entering upon his rectory of Diss, in Norfolk; but he resided there as early as 1504. He was for a while suspended from his ministry by Bishop Nix, of infamous memory. Antony à Wood's account of it is characteristic:-" Having been guilty of certain crimes (as most poets are), at least not agreeable to his coat, he fell under the heavy censure of

* Tutor.

Richard Nykke, bishop of Norwich, his diocesan; especially for his scoffs and ill language against the monks and dominicans in his writings." Skelton had bitterly lashed the vices of these men, and it is probable that they incited the bishop against him; but the ostensible cause of his punishment was, according to Bale, his contemporary, his connection with a woman, whom he had secretly married, and by whom he had several children. This was of course a serious offence against the canons of his church, to which he had vowed obedience; but it is probable that he had imbibed some of the free notions on this subject promulgated by the reformers: he was not unacquainted with their opinions, which he strongly condemns; but he might have tenaciously clung to the doctrines of his church, while he doubted the justness of its canons. He is said to have declared on his death-bed that he conscientiously regarded her as his wife, but had been deterred by his cowardliness from publicly avowing his marriage. It was probably after his removal to Diss that he commenced those more remarkable writings upon which his fame depends, and some of which we shall notice hereafter. His satire, first directed against the clergy generally, was afterwards with more earnestness concentrated upon Wolsey, and drew upon him the vengeance of that powerful enemy. Skelton fled from the officers sent to arrest him to the Sanctuary of Westminster, where Abbot Islip, who had long been his friend, received and protected him. Here he remained till his death, which occurred on June 21st, 1529, some years after he sought refuge in it.

After carefully examining what has been written about him, we are constrained to declare that we see no sufficient evidence of his having been immoral in character. What Wood may say is of little value, from his having lived long afterwards, and from his singular readiness to believe and repeat any charges made against such as he suspected of imagination or who had been guilty of poetry. And others who wrote about his time are of no more value. It is certain that somehow Skelton's name had become traditionally associated with a number of stupid and equivocal jests (as that of Shakspere had also), and that many stories were commonly repeated little creditable to him. But of their truth there is no evidence. He retained the friendship of Islip till his death, and there is proof enough in his verses that he had that of many others whose friendship it was honourable to possess. In reality, almost nothing is positively known either way; and his verses, fairly considered, are far from inducing a low estimate of his character.

We should indeed be inclined from his writings to look upon him as a fair sample of a country gentleman of that day; full of a rough and hearty gaiety, a little apt to let his mirth, always unrestrained, become at times boisterous, and even to verge upon buffoonery: when opposed, not slow to quarrel, and in his enmity given to rail at, and even unduly to cry down his adversary. Always ready to censure what was amiss in state, or church, or public manners, he was not inclined to allow others to do so too. He was a patriot after the old fashion. The French he hated; the Scotch he hated; and what Englishman did not then? Were they not our natural enemies? And while grave chroniclers of that day may talk of the "fantastical Frenchmen " or "beggarly Scots" without censure, we may let pass without graver rebuke than a quiet smile the somewhat angrier expressions of national prejudice in a professed

satirist.

A PLEASING CONTRAST.

In some of the British colonies the encouragement which is now afforded to education might be usefully copied by the mother country. In the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, out of an estimated revenue for 1846 of 178,500.; the sum of 77007. is set apart for the purposes of education. If a similar proportion of the revenue of the United Kingdom were devoted to education, the sum would amount to 2,500,000. The government at the Cape is active in supporting good schools on a plan which Sir John Herschel suggested during his residence at Cape Town a few years ago. There are twenty-one "first-class government schools," in five of which the salary of the master is 2007. a-year; in three the salary is 1507.; in nine, from 1007. to 1307; and in four the salary is under 1007. There are twenty-three "government schools" of the second class, and grants are made to thirty-three other schools, which are chiefly supported by various religious denominations. A normal school and an infant model school are established at Cape Town. The South African College, an institution for superior instruction, is aided by a grant of 4007. In order that the school system may be preserved in an efficient state, there is an inspector-general of schools, with a salary of 5007., and allowances for travelling expenses, &c. We have received private accounts from Cape Town, which state that the results of the improved system of education are already highly gratifying. The asperities which once existed between the colonists of Dutch and English origin are fast wearing out. The Dutch colonists of the old school would not have allowed the younger branches of their families to read English books, but this is no longer the case. The correspondent to whom we are indebted for this information writes for a supply of the 'Rules for the Formation of Book-Clubs,' which were circulated with the early numbers of 'Knight's Weekly Volume.' At Cape Town there are now nine printing-offices, seven booksellers shops, and there are seven newspapers regularly published. Let us contrast this with the state of things in the same colony rather more than twenty years ago. At the time of which we speak (February, 1823), the governor endeavoured to prevent the establishment of a newspaper by the late Mr. T. Pringle and Mr. Fairbairn, and it was not published until permission was obtained from the Colonial Office at home. Former attempts to establish a newspaper had been quashed without ceremony. Mr. Pringle and Mr. Fairbairn conducted their journal with scrupulous care. They avoided mere party politics, and shunned topics on which they felt strongly, but which were likely to excite violent controversy. They were aware that a free press was obnoxious to the governor; but four months elapsed before the slightest complaint could be openly urged against its conductors. The governor, however, having been compelled to prosecute a desperate adventurer for libel, became anxious to prevent the case being reported; and the fiscal, an official now happily extinct, was instructed to assume the censorship of the press. This was a species of tyranny to which neither Mr. Pringle, Mr. Fairbairn, nor Mr. Greig, the printer of the paper, could submit, and the newspaper was in consequence immediately discontinued. The governor next issued a warrant for sealing up Mr. Greig's press, and he was required by the same authority to leave the colony within a month. Mr. Pringle and Mr. Fairbairn were also the conductors of a monthly magazine as well as a newspaper; and the fiscal sent for the former of these gentlemen, and required from him a "pledge" that nothing "obnoxious or offensive to government" should be inserted. He was pressed in vain to show by what law he assumed the right of restricting the legal privileges of the press; and as it was quite impossible even to conjecture what

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might be deemed "obnoxious by the government, and as the right of censorship could not be recognised by the conductors of the magazine, its publication was discontinued. This was not exactly the object of the authorities. They, or rather the governor, wished a press still to exist, but deprived of all freedom. Mr. Pringle was, therefore, sent for by the governor and soundly rated, in the hope of intimidating him; and as this process was not successful, coaxing was tried; but neither threats nor cajolery had the desired effect, and, as already stated, the magazine was discontinued. Next, a school which Mr. Pringle and Mr. Fairbairn conducted, and which had been very successful, was destroyed by the personal influence of the governor. The scholars were withdrawn one by one from fear of offending a man who was armed with almost despotic authority. The same gentlemen had also been active in promoting the formation of a literary and scientific society, and several of the most eminent of the government officials had co-operated with them. The conduct of existing governments, or the politics of the day, and the question of slavery, were to have been prohibited as topics of discussion. The society would have confined its attention to natural history, horticulture, agriculture, and other scientific subjects; but the establishment of a school or a literary and scientific institution were offences when the same parties had also been instrumental in establishing a free press; and Mr. Pringle and his friends were summoned before the fiscal, and charged with holding "illegal meetings." A proclamation was read to them which had been issued in 1800, during the first occupation of the colony, and which was directed against Jacobin Clubs; and the projectors of the literary and scientific society were told that this proclamation would be put in force against them if they ventured to hold further meetings! Mr. Pringle describes the state of things which ensued as the Cape "Reign of Terror." "A frightful system of espionage pervaded every circle of society and rendered perilous even the confidence of the domestic hearth. . . Mutual confidence was shaken; distrust, apprehension, and gloom everywhere prevailed; and men, according to their several characters and circumstances, were perturbed by angry excitement or prostrated by slavish fear." Now, which system was best calculated to ensure the well-being and happiness of the community? The one in which the right of men to express their opinions through a free press was arbitrarily destroyed, a useful school was broken up by official tyranny, and a liberal institution for extending knowledge and creating a taste for literature and science was suppressed, or the system which now exists, when exactly the opposite policy is pursued? It is unnecessary to reply to such a question.

SHAKSPERIANA.

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1596, was Mohammed, who put to death all his brothers; and it has been thought that Shakspere makes his Henry V. allude to this circumstance. A gentleman well acquainted with Turkish history and literature has pointed out to us that Amurath, in Greek Auvpas, is Emeer, the Greek v being pronounced as ee. In old books the Sultan is sometimes called "the Amyrath;" and the style of Mohammed II. in the Greek version of his treaty with the Genoese of Galata is, "I, the great Effendi and great Emeer (Aμvpas), and son of Mourad Bey" (Mouρar). We thus find Amurath in the same sentence as distinct from Murad.

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