Heywood, John (DNB00)
HEYWOOD, JOHN (1497?–1580?), epigrammatist, is described by Bale as civis Londinensis, and is said to have resided at one time at North Mimms, Hertfordshire. The inference that he was born at either place is hazardous (Sharman, xxxvii). According to an entry in the ‘Book of Payments’ of Henry VIII, ‘John Haywood’ was, 6 Jan. 1515, in receipt of ‘wages, 8d. per day.’ In 1519 he is set down as a singer, but not included among the persons forming the establishment of the Chapel Royal. It is possible that, after having been a choir-boy, he was separately retained as a singer. Collier (i. 73 n.) cites from the Cotton. MSS. his poem in praise of ‘the meane,’ beginning:
Longe have I bene a singinge man,
And sondrie partes ofte I have songe.
Choristers for whom there was no room in the chapel were often sent to college at the royal expense when their voices changed (see quotation from Harleian MSS. ap. Sharman, xl n.) An ancient tradition asserts Heywood to have been a member of Broadgates Hall, now Pembroke College, Oxford, where, however, there are no registers of members before 1570. In his portraits (v. infra) he wears a garment resembling an M.A. gown. His ‘Epigram’ 455, ‘of verdingales,’ suggests as the likeliest place where these fashionable enormities would get in ‘Brodegates,’ in Oxford. In February 1521 an annuity of ten marks was granted to Heywood as the king's servant, chargeable on the rentals of two manors in Northamptonshire (State Papers, Henry VIII, iii. 1186). In 1526 ‘John Heywood, player of the virginals,’ is entered in a book of wages paid by the king for the sum of 6l. 13s. 4d. among those whose wages were paid quarterly (Collier, i. 94); and in the king's ‘Books of Payments’ for 1538–1542 he is mentioned only as a ‘pleyer on the virginals,’ but his quarterly allowance is given as 2l. 10s. (ib. i. 116). Collier suggests that the reduction may have been due to his appointment as master of a company of children who played before the court. In March 1538 he is actually stated to have received 40s. for ‘pleying an interlude with his children bifore’ the Princess Mary (Madden, p. 62). He is said to have been first introduced to her by Sir Thomas More, whose niece Eliza Rastell (sister of William Rastell [q. v.]) he had married. Heywood is said to have met the princess at Gobions, More's seat at North Mimms (Thorne, Environs of London, p. 433), where, according to Henry Peacham (Thalia's Banquet, 1620), Heywood produced his ‘Epigrams’ (see Park ap. Warton, iv. 80, n. 2). In Jan. 1537 a payment is entered in the accounts of Mary's ‘Privy Purse Expenses’ to Heywood's servant for bringing of her ‘regalles’ from London to Greenwich (Madden, p. 12). The very pleasing lines entitled ‘A Description of a most noble Ladye, advewed by John Heywoode,’ profess to portray her at the age of eighteen, and, if so, must (to his credit) have been written when she was in disgrace (Madden, Introductory Memoir, p. cliii, quotes these stanzas from Harl. MS. 1703; they were printed anonymously in ‘Tottel's Miscellany,’ 1557, and are given entire in Park's edition of Walpole's ‘Royal and Noble Authors,’ i. 81. The opening and the prettiest passage of the poem are borrowed from Surrey). Under Edward VI Heywood is said, thanks to the ‘honest motion’ of a gentleman of the king's chamber, to have escaped hanging, and thus to have been saved from ‘the jerke of the six-string'd whip’ (Harington, Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596, cited, with Oldys's reference, ap. Fairholt, vii.) Heywood's sincere catholicism proves that the Six Articles Act must be here confounded with the Supremacy Act. In 1544 he had been charged with having denied the royal supremacy, but was allowed to atone for his rashness by a public recantation on 6 July at St. Paul's Cross (given in Sharman, pp. xlii–iii, from Bonner Register, fol. 61, Lambeth MSS.; cf. Foxe, Acts and Monuments, ed. 1853, v. 528). George Puttenham (Of Poets and Poesie, bk. i. ch. xxxi.) states that Heywood came into reputation in Edward VI's time, and was ‘well benefited by the king’ for ‘the myrth and quicknesse of his conceits.’ His fortunes were at their highest, however, under Mary, who had a highly cultivated intelligence, and was fond of innocent fun (cf. Madden, p. xlvi). He was in complete sympathy with her policy in church and state. On her coronation he sat in St. Paul's churchyard ‘in a pageant under a vine, and made to her an oration in Latine’ (Stow, Annals, ed. 1617, p. 617, ap. Madden, p. 239). He celebrated her marriage in a ballad of which the allegory recalls that of Chaucer's ‘Assembly of Fowls’ (repr. in ‘Harleian Miscellany,’ ed. Park, x. 255–6). Shortly before her death, 10 Nov. 1558, she granted to him a lease of the manor of Bolmer and other lands in Yorkshire at a rental of 30l. (State Papers, Dom. xiv. 8); and it is said that his pleasantries, often acceptable in her privy chamber (Anthony à Wood ap. Warton, iv. 81), helped to amuse her even on her deathbed. He had in former days enjoyed Elizabeth's favour (see the entry of a gratuity of 30s. to him in the Household Book of the Princess Elizabeth, ap. Madden, p. 239), but on her accession, or later, he retired to Malines, where he is supposed to have passed the remainder of his days. In 1570 he is mentioned as still alive; and he is probably the John Heywood who (18 April 1575) wrote to Burghley from Malines, ‘where I have been despoiled by Spanish and German soldiers of the little I had,’ thanking him for ordering the arrears from his land at Romney to be paid to him, and speaking of himself as an old man of seventy-eight (which would date his birth about 1497). His name is included in a return of catholic fugitives, dated 29 Jan. 1577, about which time he was found by the royal commissioners to be nominal tenant of lands in Kent and elsewhere. A small estate belonging to his wife Eliza had been made over by grant to their daughter Elizabeth (Sharman, p. xlv). In 1587 Thomas Newton, in his ‘Epilogue, or Conclusion to Heywood's Works,’ speaks of him as ‘dead and gone.’ His two sons, Ellis and Jasper, are separately noticed.
Heywood, though superior in social position to Henry VIII's jester, Will Summers, or the Princess Mary's fool, Jane, was professionally a lineal descendant of the minstrels, and, like these humbler colleagues, expected to amuse by his powers of repartee. The sayings recorded of him are not always deficient in point; and his humour is perhaps less coarse than might have been expected (see a small collection of his witticisms in Camden, Remains, ed. 1674, pp. 378–9). In 1514 Henry VIII placed his theatrical establishment on an enlarged footing. Heywood seems not to have belonged to it, but to have trained a company of boy-players for performances, probably in the intervals of banquets at court. His interludes, in which personal types entirely supersede personified abstractions, were the earliest of their kind in England, though familiar on the continent (cf. Collier, i. 114); nothing so good of the same kind was afterwards produced. The bridge to English comedy was thus built, and Heywood, whose name to Ben Jonson meant uncouth antiquity (A Tale of a Tub, v. 2), deserves the chief credit for its building.
Of Heywood's three interludes, in the more restricted sense of the term, the ‘Mery Play between the Pardoner and the Frere, the Curate and Neybour Pratte,’ was probably the earliest, if the reference to Leo X (d. 1521) implies that he was the reigning pope. It is a contest of words between the friar and the pardoner, on whose behalf the author coolly borrows a considerable portion of the ‘Prologe of the Pardoner’ in the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ and of blows between them and the representatives of secular clergy and laity. In the same year (1533) as the above was printed the ‘Mery Play between Johan the Husbande, Tyb the Wife, and Syr Jhan the Priest.’ The most amusing situation in the piece is also to be found in the old French ‘Farce de Pernet.’ The most famous of the triad is the ‘Four P's, a merry interlude of a Palmer, a Pardoner, a Potycary, and a Pedlar,’ printed probably between 1543 and 1547, and very possibly written fifteen years or so earlier (Collier, ii. 303). Chaucer is here again laid under contribution (cf. C. H. Herford, pp. 247–8, 328). The satire upon quackery is fresh and original, and although Heywood's humour is bold and broad, it is wholesome and compatible (see the closing lines of the Four P's) with unaffected piety.
Besides these interludes, Heywood composed at least one dialogue, which served the purpose of quasi-dramatic entertainments. The dialogue ‘Of Wit and Folly’ (so named by Collier) is carried on, not in the ordinary mediæval fashion (cf. C. H. Herford, pp. 31–3), by abstractions, but by concrete human characters, ‘in maner of an enterlude.’ It discusses the superiority of the life of a fool (such as ‘sot Somer’), or a wise man (such as ‘sage Salaman’). The manuscript is an autograph of the writer, with whose ‘Amen qd John Heywod’ it concludes. He probably did not write ‘Of Gentylnes and Nobylyte,’ printed without a date by Rastell, who was perhaps its author (cf. Collier, ii. 310; and see Dyce, Skelton, ii. 277). Two pieces of intermediate character by Heywood were formerly confounded with one another by bibliographers (cf. Fairholt, pp. xii sqq.), viz. the ‘Play of Love’ and the ‘Play of the Wether,’ which has an ingenious plot as well as a wholesome moral.
Of Heywood's remaining writings the most celebrated are his ‘Epigrams.’ Later writers in the same style often refer to ‘the old English epigrammatist’ (see the quotations from Heath, Bastard, Fitzgeoffrey, Sir John Harington, and Sir John Davies ap. Warton, iv. 87, 1 n., 423, 3 n.) The earliest edition extant, that of 1562 (though a reference on the title-page to additions proves that it was not the original), contains six hundred epigrams, of which three hundred are founded upon so many popular proverbs. It has been suggested that they are probably some of Heywood's and of other people's jokes versified; and Gabriel Harvey (ap. Warton, iv. 81, 2 n.) is cited for attributing some to Sir Thomas More. They show genuine wit as well as humour, and indicate a certain vein of pathos. In his ‘Dialogue conteyning the number of the effectual proverbes in the Englishe tounge …’ (printed seemingly as early as 1546; see Warton, iv. 83, 3 n.) Heywood draws upon a vast store of proverbs awkwardly inserted in a narrative dialogue. His ‘Proverbs,’ like the ‘Epigrams,’ were exceedingly popular, and were reproduced in many early editions (see the lines of Davies of Hereford and the good story of the Marquis of Winchester, and the proverb Heywood left out, ib. n. 4 and 2).
Heywood was not improbably prouder of his queer allegory of the ‘Spider and the Flie,’ printed in 1556. Critics both old and new (cited and approved by Warton, iv. 85 sqq.) agree in describing this production, containing ninety-eight chapters in the seven-line stanza, as a failure. The flies are supposed to signify the catholics and the spiders the protestants, Queen Mary being introduced as a maid executing with her broom (the civil sword) the commands of her (heavenly) master and of her mistress (holy church). Heywood also wrote a few ballads; that upon Mary already mentioned; one in commemoration of ‘the traytorous Takynge of Scarborow Castell,’ by Thomas Stafford in 1557 (reprinted in Harleian Miscellany, ed. Park, x. 257–9), and the ‘Willow Garland’ ballad, the refrain of which was known to Desdemona (reprinted in the Shakespeare Society's Papers, 1844, i. 44–6, from Mr. B. H. Bright's manuscript; see ib. and Warton, iv. 216 n. as to the difference between it and the ballad in Percy's ‘Reliques’).
John Heywood is mentioned, among other early Tudor writers notable for their ‘pretty and learned workes,’ in Webbe's ‘Discourse of English Poësie,’ 1586 (ap. Haslewood, Ancient Critical Essays upon English Poets and Poesy, 1815, ii. 34). Mr. Symonds rather too boldly suggests that he might be styled a prose Chaucer. He deserves respect for the freedom of spirit with which, though a devout catholic, he satirised the abuses of his church. An expression of melancholy has even been found in the woodcut portrait of Heywood accompanying the 1556 edition of ‘The Spider and the Flie,’ and the 1562 edition of his ‘Epigrams upon Proverbs,’ but this is solemn trifling, especially as in ‘The Spider and the Flie’ there are various smaller cuts representing the author.
His works are: 1. ‘A mery Play between the Pardoner and the Frere, the Curate and Neybour Pratte.’ Printed by Rastell, 1533 (unique copy in the library of the Duke of Devonshire). Facsimile reprint, 1820. Reprinted in ‘Four Old Plays,’ ed. Child, Cambridge, U.S.A., 1848, and in Hazlitt's ‘Dodsley,’ vol. i. 1874. 2. ‘A Mery Play between Johan the Husbande, Tyb the Wife, and Syr Jhan the Priest,’ by John Heywood. Printed by Rastell, 1533 (unique copy in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford); and at the Chiswick Press, 1819. 3. ‘The Four P.P.,’ &c., by John Heywood. Printed, n.d., by William Middleton, 1569; and in Hazlitt's ‘Dodsley,’ vol. i. 1874, and elsewhere. 4. ‘The Play of the Wether, a new and a very mery interlude of all maner of Wethers,’ made by John Heywood. Printed 1533. A copy exists at St. John's College, Oxford. There is another edition printed by Robert Wyer. A full account of it by Dr. Bliss is reproduced by Fairholt. 5. ‘The Play of Love, an interlude by John Heywood. Printed at London in Farster Laen by John Waley.’ A copy is in the Bodleian Library, and an account is given by Fairholt. 6. ‘A Dialogue on Wit and Folly,’ by John Heywood. Printed from the original manuscript in the British Museum, with an account of the author and his dramatic works, and nearly complete reprints of Nos. 1 and 2, by F. W. Fairholt. Percy Society's Publications, vol. xx. 1846. 7. ‘A dialogue conteyning the number of the effectuall prouerbes in the Englishe tounge, compact in a matter concernynge two maner of maryages. With one hundred of Epigrammes, and three hundred of Epigrammes vpon three hundred prouerbes; and a fifth hundred of Epigrams. Wherevnto are now newly added a syxt hundred of Epigrams, by the sayde John Heywood,’ London, 1562, 1576, 1587, 1598. Reprinted for the Spenser Society, 1867. The ‘Proverbs’ have also been edited, with an Introduction, by Mr. Julian Sharman, London, 1874. 8. ‘The Spider and the Flie,’ London, 1556, with woodcuts. Of Heywood's ballads many are stated by Collier to have been contained in a manuscript volume formerly belonging to Mr. B. Heywood Bright, but now no longer extant.