Lydgate, John (DNB00)
LYDGATE, JOHN (1370?–1451?), poet, was born, as he himself tells us, at Lydgate, near Newmarket, ‘where Bacchus licour doth ful scarsly flete’ (Falls of Princes, 176 d, cf. 217 d; Æsop, Prol. 32) Bale and Pits describe him as sixty years old in 1440, making 1380 his date of birth. Other facts prove, however, that he was born at least ten years earlier; in the ‘Falls of Princes’ (bk. viii. Prol.), which he began about 1430, he speaks of his ‘threescore of yearys.’ His later connection with the Benedictine monastery of Bury St. Edmunds makes it possible that he went to the school kept by the monks there (cf. Babees Book, Early English Text Soc., xlv–vi). According to his own account he was an unruly boy. He was fond of ‘jangling’ and ‘japing’ with his schoolfellows; he stole fruit and preferred ‘telling’ cherry-stones to going to church (cf. ‘Testament’ in Halliwell, Minor Poems, pp. 255–257). When fifteen he was admitted into the abbey of Bury, and at the end of a year he had grown serious enough to make his profession (ib.)
In his latest work, ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ he speaks in very sympathetic terms of the high place that a university ought to hold in a civilised state, and it is very probable that he enjoyed the advantages of academic training. But details are wanting. Gloucester Hall at Oxford was a house of education for Benedictine monks, and Lydgate may have spent some time there. Bale asserted that he studied at both the English universities. An early manuscript note describes a rendering of one of Æsop's fables as ‘made in Oxenford’ (Ashmol. MS. 59), and some verses on the foundation of the town and university of Cambridge are assigned to him (cf. Baker MS. in Cambr. Univ. Libr.; Retrospective Review, 2nd ser. i. 498). Bale's further statement that he completed his studies in France and Italy rests on very shadowy evidence. Padadopoli, an historian of the university of Padua, vaguely conjectures that he studied in that university (Historia Gymnasi Patavini, ii. 165). A fourteenth-century Joannes Anglus seems to be known to some Paduan writers, but there is nothing to identify him with the poet (cf. Schick, p. xc). It seems very doubtful if Lydgate at any time visited Italy. He was undoubtedly well acquainted with France, but his foreign tours seem to have been undertaken in the spirit of an adventurous sightseer rather than in the pursuit of academic learning:—
I haue been offte in dyvers londys
And in many dyvers Regiouns. …
In Citees, Castellys, and in touns;
Among folk of sundry naciouns. …
I askyd no mannere of protecciouns;
God was myn helpe ageyn al drede’
(Harl. MS. 2255, ff. 148–50).
Meanwhile, on 13 March 1388–9, ‘fr[ater] Joh[annes] Lidgate, monachus de Bury,’ was admitted in the church of Hadham to the four minor ecclesiastical orders (Tanner, 489). According to the register of William Cratfield, abbot of Bury St. Edmunds, he received letters dimissory for the office of subdeacon on 17 Nov. or Dec. 1389 (Cotton, Tib. B. ix. fol. 35 b), and for that of deacon on 28 May 1393 (ib. fol. 69 b). He was ordained priest by John Fordham, bishop of Ely, on 7 April 1397, in the chapel of the manor of Dounham (cf. ib. fol. 85 b, and Schick, p. lxxxvii).
Bale states that as soon as Lydgate had completed his foreign tour, he opened a school for the sons of noblemen. Warton and later writers locate the school in the Bury monastery. In 1415 the poet was present at the election of William of Exeter as abbot of the monastery.
Lydgate wrote verse from an early age. He seems to have been fired by the example of Chaucer, and he made after 1390 the personal acquaintance, not only of the poet, who died in 1400, but also of Thomas Chaucer [q. v.], the poet's son. Through the reign of Henry IV (1399–1413) he spent much time in London, apparently seeking from men of rank recognition for his poetic efforts. He knew London life and London topography well. In his popular poem ‘London Lackpenny’ he humorously portrays the disadvantages of an empty purse in the metropolis. The corporation of the city acknowledged his merit, and invited him to celebrate civic ceremonies in verse. He wrote a ‘Ballade to the Sheriffs and Aldermen of London on a May day at a Dinner at Bishop Wood’ (Ashmol. MS. 59, No. 31, printed in Chron. of London, ed. Nicolas, p. 257), and he devised pageants for both the Mercers' and the Goldsmiths' Companies in honour of William Estfield, who was mayor in 1429 and 1437 (Addit. MS. 29729, ff. 132 sq.) The chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral also commissioned him to write verses to be inscribed beneath a pictorial representation in the cloisters of the ‘Dance Macabre’ or ‘Dance of Death’ [No. 7 below]. But Lydgate quickly obtained more exalted patronage. He seems to have secured an introduction to Henry IV's court, and at the request of the Prince of Wales in 1412 he began his ‘Troy Book’ or ‘Destruction of Troy’ [No. 2 below]. When it was completed in 1420, Lydgate presented it to the prince, then Henry V, who showed his appreciation of his efforts by inviting him to undertake a ‘Life of our Lady.’ He celebrated in verse Henry V's return to London after Agincourt, 23 Nov. 1415 (Harl. MS. 565, printed in Chron. of London, pp. 216 sq.) In 1417 he lamented in a poem the departure of his friend Thomas Chaucer for France on diplomatic business (Ashmol. MS. 59, No. 21; Harl. MS. 1704), and for Queen Catharine he wrote a ‘balade’ (Addit. MS. 29729, f. 127 b; cf. Harl. MS. 2251, No. 125). At the request of the French king Charles—apparently Charles VI, Queen Catharine's father—he is said to have translated into English the French invocation to St. Denis (Ashmol. MS. 59, No. 33).
From the date of Henry VI's accession Lydgate regularly acted as a court poet, and in the king's uncle, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, he found a generous patron. At Humphrey's recommendation he undertook his largest literary undertaking, the ‘Falls of Princes.’ An application made by him to the duke for money while the work was in progress is extant (Harl. MS. 2251. f. 6; Halliwell, p. 49), and he wrote verses on the duke's marriage in 1422 with Jacqueline (ib. 131, f. 579 b; Addit. MS. 29729, f. 157 b), and in all probability an elegy on the duke's death in 1447 (Ashmol. MS. 59; Stowe's list in Speght's Chaucer, 1598, f. 394). ‘A pytous Complaynte of a Chapellayne of my Lordes of Gloucester’ is also entitled ‘Complainte made by Lidgate of my Ladye of Gloucester and Holland’ (Ashmol. MS. 59, No. 27). The ladies of the court generally seem to have encouraged his poetic enterprises. For Anne, countess of Stafford, he wrote ‘An Invocation to St. Anne’ (ib. No. 20). For that lady's sister-in-law, Anne, widow of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (d. 1424), and wife of John Holland, second earl of Huntingdon (afterwards duke of Exeter), he wrote his ‘Life of St. Margaret,’ and he subsequently produced an ‘Interpretatio missæ in lingua materna’ for the Countess of Suffolk, apparently Alice, daughter of Thomas Chaucer, and granddaughter of the poet (MS. St. John's Coll. Oxf. lvi. 76). Stowe assigns to Lydgate ‘The fyfftene Joyes of oure Lady cleped the xv Odes, translated out of French at th' instance of the worshipfull Pryncesse Isabelle, Countesse of Warwyke, lady Despenser,’ i.e. the second wife of Lydgate's patron Richard de Beauchamp (Harl. MS. 2255; Cotton MS. Titus A. xxv.; cf. Addit. MS. 29729), but Lydgate's responsibility is here disputed.
In 1426 Lydgate was in Paris in attendance on other noble patrons. For Thomas de Montacute, earl of Salisbury, he translated in that year Deguilleville's ‘Pilgrimage of Man.’ On 28 July following he translated, at the request of Richard de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (then regent of France in the absence of the Duke of Bedford), a poetical ‘Remembraunce of a Pedigree,’ by Laurence Callot, showing Henry VI's claim to the throne of France (Harl. MS. 7333, f. 31, printed in Wright, Political Poems, ii. 131 sq.) At the end is a ‘roundelle’ in anticipation of the king's coronation. For the little king at holiday seasons Lydgate devised numerous ‘mummings,’ one of which was performed at Windsor, probably in 1424, and another at Eltham, probably at New Year, 1427–8. ‘A New Year's Ballade,’ addressed to the king and his mother ‘at Hertford,’ perhaps celebrated the opening of 1429. Henry's coronation at Westminster, 6 Nov. 1429, called forth both a ballad and a prayer; the former was presented on the day of the ceremony. When the king entered London in February 1431 on his return from France, Lydgate prepared an elaborate set of verses [No. 30 below], and he doubtless helped to welcome Henry when the king visited the monastery of Bury at Christmas 1433. About that date he presented to Henry his ‘Life of St. Edmund,’ written at the request of the abbot, William Curteis. It concludes with a ‘balade royal of Invocation’ prepared at the king's ‘instance.’
Despite his repeated complaints of poverty, his poetic services did not go unrewarded. On 21 Feb. 1423 the privy council decreed that the lands belonging to the alien priory of Longville Gifford or Newenton Longville, with the pension of Spalding, of the value of 40l., appertaining to the Abbey of Angers, were to be leased to four persons nominated by Sir Ralph Rocheford. John Lydgate, a monk, figures on the list of names (Proceedings of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, iii. 43). In June of the same year Lydgate was elected prior of Hatfield Broadoak or Hatfield Regis, Essex, but he does not seem to have performed many of the duties of his office. He was seldom resident at Hatfield, and probably soon resigned. According to Dugdale, whose list of the priors is defective, one John Durham held the office in 1430. On 8 April 1434 Lydgate was formally relieved of all relations with the priory of Hatfield, so as to enable him to return to Bury (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt. ix. p. 139). There the later part of Lydgate's life seems to have been spent. On 22 April 1439 he was granted a pension of ten marks from the customs of Ipswich (Pat. Roll. 17 Henry VI, p. 1, m. 7), and a sum of 6l. 4s. 5¼d. was accordingly paid him by the collectors of customs at the Easter following. On 7 May 1440 the king substituted for this payment an annual pension of 7l. 13s. 4d., to be paid out of the proceeds of the farm of Waytefee, and Lydgate received half the amount at Michaelmas of the same year. Legal difficulties touching the letters patent arose in the next year, and Lydgate petitioned the king (14 Nov. 1441) to direct the issue of new letters patent in which the same pension should be conferred jointly on himself and John Baret (d. 1467), the treasurer of Bury monastery. The request was complied with a week later; extant accounts of the sheriffs of Norfolk show that the pension was duly paid until Michaelmas 1449. An extant receipt, in the Bodleian Library, by Baret alone for half the sum is dated 2 Oct. 1446 (cf. Secreta Secretorum, ed. Steele, Early English Text Soc., and Anglia, iii. 532, by Zupitza).
In 1439, at the request of John Whethamstede, abbot of St. Albans, Lydgate had translated into English metre a Latin ‘Life of St. Alban’ [No. 10 below], and he was paid 3l. 6s. 8d. for his work (Amundesham, Annales Monast. S. Albani, ii. 256, Rolls Ser.) The abbot paid a hundred shillings for translating, copying, and illuminating the manuscript, which was placed before the altar of the saint. Lydgate celebrated miracles wrought at St. Edmund's shrine in 1441 and 1444, and he was ‘charged in his oold dayes’ by Abbot Curteys to make an English metrical translation of the ‘De Profundis,’ to be hung on the walls of the abbey church (cf. Laud. Misc. MS. 682, f. 8, and Harl. MS. 2255, No. 11). He still continued writing court poems, and described in verse ‘the prospect of peace’ during the negotiations of 1443, and the truce of 1444 and the treaty of marriage between Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. Both pieces are printed from Harleian MS. 2255 in Wright's ‘Political Poems,’ ii. 209, 215. Stowe, in his ‘Annals of England,’ 1615, p. 385, states that Lydgate made the verses for the pageants exhibited at Queen Margaret's entry into London in 1445. He wrote ‘A Ballad on presenting an Eagle to the King and Queen on the day of their Marriage’ (Halliwell, Minor Poems, p. 213; cf. Harl. MS. 2251). A poem on the ‘Nightingale,’ in Cotton. MS. Calig. A. II. ff. 59–64, is dedicated to Ann, wife of Humphrey Stafford, duke of Buckingham, whom he had already eulogised when Countess of Stafford. Lydgate there deplored the death (11 June 1445) of Henry de Beauchamp, duke of Warwick [q. v.], (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 80). The epitaph ascribed by Stowe to him on Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, proves that he was writing in 1447. Osbern Bokenam [q. v.], in his ‘Legend of St. Elizabeth,’ which was composed between 1443 and 1447, describes him as a living contemporary, in contrast with Gower and Chaucer, who were dead. He wrote his ‘Testament,’ declaring his readiness for death in his last years, and died while engaged in translating the ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ a treatise on the education of princes, into English verse. In Michaelmas 1449 he received the latest known payment of his pension. John Alcock [q. v.], bishop of Ely, asserts that Lydgate wrote a poem on the occasion of the final loss by the English of France and Gascony, which cannot be dated earlier than 1451. Alcock, who was born in 1430, speaks as though he knew Lydgate personally. Lydgate's death may therefore be conjecturally placed in 1451 (cf. Sermon on Luke viij., W. de Worde, 1496? unique copy in Peterborough Cathedral Library bound up with Alcock's ‘Mons Perfeccionis;’ Brydges, British Bibliographer, ii. 532).
Pits, while denying that he died in 1482, assigns the event to 1440, and many other dates have been suggested. The manuscripts of some of Lydgate's poems have been freely interpolated by later hands, and the additions at times deal with events subsequent to Henry VI's reign. On these unsafe grounds the poet's life has been extended into the reign of Edward IV, and even into that of Henry VII. Thus some versions of Lydgate's verses on English kings [No. 29 below] introduce Edward IV (Harl. MS. 2251. 3) and Henry VII (Brit. Mus. MS. Reg. 18, D. ii). The prologue of the ‘Life of St. Edmund’ is in one copy (Ashmol. MS. 46) accommodated to celebrate Henry VI's successor; and Edward IV's ‘Quene and Modir’ are commemorated in a poem assigned to Lydgate in Harleian MS. 2251. 9. f. 10.
Lydgate was doubtless buried in the Bury monastery. Two fragments of coarse, soft stone were found amid the ruins of the abbey in 1775, and one bore the name of Lydgate amid some undecipherable words (Archæologia, iv. 130). The following epitaph, written soon after his death, may have been the original inscription on his tomb (cf. Harl. MS. 116, f. 170):
Lidgate Cristolicon, Edmundum, Maro Britanus,
Boccasiousque viros psallit; et hic cinis est.
Hæc tria præcipua opera fecit:—vij libros de Christo; librum de vita Sancti Edmundi; et Boccasium de viris illustribus; cum multis aliis.’ A later epitaph is quoted by Fuller:—
Mortuus soclo superis superstes,
Hic jacet Lydgat tumulatus urna;
Qui fuit quondam celebris Britannæ
Lydgate repeatedly describes himself as Chaucer's disciple. He addresses him as his master, and while Chaucer was alive seems to have submitted to him his poems in manuscript, so as ‘with his supporte’ to ‘amende and correcte the wronge traces of’ his ‘rude penne’ (Life of our Lady). To his ‘master with humble affeccioun’ he dedicates his ‘Chorl and Bird.’ In his ‘Troy Booke’ he laments that death has deprived him of Chaucer's literary counsel, and that no survivor was worthy to hold Chaucer's ink-horn. His ‘Story of Thebes’ was designed as a direct imitation and continuation of the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ and was printed with them by Stowe (1561). Lydgate pretends that he told the story on the pilgrims' return journey from Canterbury to Southwark. In the prologue to the ‘Falls of Princes,’ Lydgate, while commending his ‘master,’ enumerates Chaucer's minor works in a passage of classic value to the student of the older poet. John Shirley (1366–1456), who zealously collected and copied out Chaucer's works, did little less extensive service for Lydgate; and the confusing proximity of the two writers' shorter poems in Shirley's manuscripts has occasioned much difficulty in determining the authorship of many minor pieces. Nor was Lydgate unacquainted with the English writings of ‘moral’ Gower, the philosopher Strode, Richard of Hampole (cf. Falls of Princes, viii. 24, f. 192 b, ix. 38, f. 217 c), or Layamon, and he probably read William Langland.
Lydgate mentions familiarly all the great writers of classical and mediæval antiquity. Of Greek authors he claims some acquaintance with ‘grete’ Homer, Euripides, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristotle, and Josephus. Among Latin writers he refers constantly to Ovid, Cicero, Virgil, and his commentator Servius, Livy, Juvenal, and ‘noble’ Persius; to ‘moral’ Seneca, Lucan, Statius, Aulus Gellius, Valerius Maximus, Prudentius, Lactantius, Prosper the ‘dogmatic’ epigrammatist, Vegetius, Boethius, Fulgentius, Alanus ab Insulis, and Guido di Colonna. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are repeatedly commended by him among Italian writers, and he was clearly acquainted with the ‘Roman de la Rose,’ with French fabliaux, romances, and chronicles. Alain Chartier he only seems to mention once (Halliwell, p. 47).
But Lydgate's linguistic attainments may easily be exaggerated. His classical learning was to a large extent obtained at second hand. He had practically no knowledge of Greek (cf. Koeppel, Laurent, pp. 46–8; Falls of Princes, iii. 7, fol. 78). He only knew Homer's ‘Iliad’ from the mediæval Isidore Hispalensis's ‘Origines;’ of the ‘Odyssey’ he seems wholly ignorant, while Guido di Colonna or Dares Phrygius doubtless supplied him with material for his ‘History of Troy.’ It may be questioned whether the Latin classics were more directly at his command. He mentions that Cicero wrote orations and ‘morall ditties,’ but refers to Vincent of Beauvais's ‘Speculum Historiale’ as the source of his information. He undoubtedly read Seneca and Boethius, and much mediæval literature in Latin and French; but when he converted Boccaccio's ‘De Casibus Virorum Illustrium’ into English verse he depended on the French translation of Laurent de Premier fait. His knowledge of the Arthurian legends he mainly derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth, and he freely utilised the ‘Gesta Romanorum.’ In his ‘Court of Sapience’ and elsewhere he treats of science and mathematics, but he disclaims knowledge of Euclid (Troy Book F, a), and has little title to be reckoned a mathematician. He possessed a library, but the sole volume belonging to it now known to be extant (Bodl. Libr. MS. Laud. 233) significantly contains two works of Isidore Hispalensis along with a few sermons of Hildebert of Le Mans and some brief quotations from Virgil and Horace. Lydgate's autograph figures in this volume.
For two centuries after his death Lydgate was assigned by critics of English poetry a place beside Gower and only a little below Chaucer. In his own lifetime he found an ardent disciple in Benedict Burgh [q. v.], who eulogised him unstintedly both in a metrical panegyric (Secreta, ed. Steele, xxix. sq.), and in a continuation of Lydgate's ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ stanzas 214–27. Another contemporary, Bishop Alcock, speaks of his many ‘noble histories’ and ‘vertuous ballettes,’ which led to the ‘encrease of vertue and the oppression of vice’ (Sermo on Luke viij, Wynkyn de Worde, 1496?). Bradshaw in his ‘Life of St. Werburge’ (ii. 20–3), Bokenam in his ‘Legends’ (i. 177, ii. 4, 612, vi. 24, xiii. 1078), and Ashby in his ‘Active Policy of a Prince,’ write of Lydgate with scarcely less warmth. Feylde, in his ‘Lover and a Jaye’ (prol. 19–21), terms his works ‘fruytefull and sentencyous,’ and their author ‘a famous rethorycyne.’ In the early sixteenth century Stephen Hawes, in his ‘Pastyme of Pleasure,’ apostrophised his ‘mayster Lydgate,’ as ‘the most dulcet sprynge Of famous rethoryke, and of the ballad royal The chefe originall.’ Skelton frequently mentions him in close conjunction with Chaucer and Gower (Philip Sparrow, ll. 804–12; Garland of Laurel, ll. 390, 428–41, 1101); and ‘the triad of Scottish poets,’ Dunbar, Gawin Douglas, and Sir David Lyndsay, reckon his name only second to Chaucer's (cf. Dunbar, Golden Targe, ll. 262–70, and Lament for the Makaris, l. 51; Douglas, Palice of Honour, ed. Small, i. 36, 11; Lyndsay, Papyngo, Prol. l. 12). During the Elizabethan period Lydgate's fame was at its zenith. In Tarleton's ‘Seven Deadly Sins,’ of which the ‘platt’ of the second part is alone extant, he figured as chorus (cf. Malone, iii. 348), like Gower in ‘Pericles.’ William Bullein [q. v.], in his ‘Dialogue against the Feuer Pestilence,’ 1564, sets him on Parnassus (p. 16), and Richard Robinson, in the ‘Reward of Wickednesse,’ 1574, places him on Helicon. Sackville, in the prologue before the ‘Induction of the Mirror of Magistrates,’ states that the work was designed to imitate or continue Lydgate's adaptation of Boccaccio's ‘Falls of Princes,’ and he and Norton also obtained hints for their ‘Gorboduc’ from Lydgate's prose ‘Serpent of Division.’ In 1581 one John Lawson wrote a long-winded historical chronicle in lumbering verse, which he called ‘Lawson's Orchet,’ avowedly on the model of Lydgate's longer poems (Lansd. MS. 204), and gave reasons for regarding Lydgate as worthy of equal praise with Chaucer (Brydges, Restituta, iv. 29). William Webbe, in his ‘Discourse of English Poetrie’ (ed. Arber, p. 32), agrees with Lawson as far as the ‘good proportion of’ Lydgate's verse and ‘his meetely currant style’ are concerned, but censures his subject matter as more ‘superstitious and odd … than was requisite in so good a wit.’ Puttenham, in his ‘Arte of English Poesie,’ credits Lydgate with translations only, but, although ‘no deviser of that which he wrote, he wrote in good verse.’ Shakespeare may have sought some hints for his ‘Troilus and Cressida’ from Lydgate's ‘Troy Book,’ which Heywood published in modernised verse in 1614. John Lane [q. v.] performed a like service for Lydgate's ‘Guy of Warwick’ in 1621. Meres, in his ‘Palladis Tamia,’ Nashe, in his preface to Greene's ‘Menaphon,’ Camden, and Francis Beaumont all make honourable reference to Lydgate. Clarke, in his ‘Polimanteia,’ 1595 (fol. R. 3 a) links him with Sir David Lyndsay. Peacham in the ‘Compleat Gentleman,’ 1634, p. 95, credits him ‘for those times’ with ‘a tolerable and smooth verse.’ In ‘Don Zara del Fogo, a Mock Romance,’ 1656, Lydgate is portrayed as a champion of Chaucer in a contest between the latter and Ben Jonson, for the honour of being known as the first of English poets. To Fuller, Lydgate's English seemed purer and more modern than Chaucer's.
Chatterton read Lydgate; he addressed one of the Rowley poems to him, and wrote another in imitation of him. The poet Gray was the most distinguished of all Lydgate's admirers. In his opinion, his choice of expression and the smoothness of his verse rendered him superior to Gower or Hoccleve, and could even ‘raise the more tender emotions of the mind’ (cf. Gray, Works, ed. Gosse, i. 387–407). Warton is no less eulogistic. Recent criticism has been less generous. Hallam perceived in him very occasional displays of spirit, humour, or graphic minuteness. Ritson found him ‘a most prolix and voluminous poetaster,’ or ‘a prosaic and drivelling monk,’ whose ‘stupid and fatiguing productions’ did not deserve the name of poetry, and were only worthy of preservation as typographical curiosities or as specimens of illuminated manuscripts. Mrs. Browning perceived in his verse ‘flashes of genius,’ ‘although not prolonged to the point of warming the soul;’ his moments of power and pathos were infrequent, and he ‘wears for working days no habit of perfection’ (The Greek Christian Poets and the English Poets, p. 120). A ‘barbarous jangle’ was, in J. R. Lowell's opinion, the justest estimate of Lydgate's verse (My Study Windows, art. ‘Chaucer’).
Lydgate wrote clearly; the proportion of obsolete words is smaller than in Chaucer, or Wycliffe, or Pecock; he is, therefore, readily intelligible to the reader of modern English. He frequently apologised for the ‘rudeness’ of his language, and explained the defect by representing the speech of his native county as ‘most corrupt, and with most sondry tonges mixt and rupte’ (Court of Sapience, Prol.) But the influence of French and Latin is more apparent in his vocabulary than that of any East-Anglian dialect. Lydgate's voluminousness attests his industry, but he had little or no poetic imagination. The tedious length of his narrative poems renders them unreadable, and, from a literary point of view, worthless. His moralising, usually in allegorical form, is unimpressive, although the piety which inspires it is obviously sincere. He shows to best advantage in his shorter poems on social subjects, like ‘London Lackpenny,’ or the ballade on the ‘Forked Head-dresses of the Ladies’ (‘a dyte of Womenhis hornys,’ Halliwell, p. 46), or ‘A Satirical Description of his Lady when she hath on hire hood of grene’ (ib. p. 199). There occasionally he exhibits a frolicsome vein of satire, as well as insight into the weaknesses of human nature. Elsewhere he shows some sympathy with rural life and natural scenery, and although he delights in exposing women's foibles, he refers to them in his serious poems in terms of genuine respect. Despite the depression which all but a small fragment of his literary work excites in the reader, Lydgate may fairly be credited with a genial personality.
Lydgate admitted in his ‘Troy Book’ (fol. E 5 b) that he ‘set aside’ ‘truth of metre’ and took ‘none hede nother of shorte nor longe.’ But he employs in the ‘Falls of Princes’ and the majority of his works a very distinct metre known as Rhyme Royal. It consists of seven-line stanzas, each line containing ten syllables with rhymes a b a b b c c, but the scansion is irregular. A well-marked cæsura after the second foot, or after an extra syllable preceding the third foot, is very common, but the accented syllables vary arbitrarily from four to six, and this irregularity gives much of his verse the halting effect of doggerel. The rhyme is often exchanged for mere assonance or a repetition of the same syllable. The ‘Troy Book’ and ‘Thebes’ are in heroic couplets, like many of the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ and in two works, ‘Reason and Sensualitie’ and the ‘Pilgrimage,’ rhyming couplets (in eight-syllable lines) are employed after the manner of Gower's ‘Confessio Amantis.’ Lydgate's ballades are not accurate metrical experiments, but occasionally he attempted ‘roundels’ on a strict French model (cf. Schipper, Englische Metrik, i. 196). Many shorter poems owe such attractions as they possess to the repetition of the same line or refrain at the close of each stanza.
The list of works assigned to Lydgate by Bale, Tanner, and Ritson, is appallingly long. Ritson reached a total of 251, but his carelessness renders his results nearly useless. His titles constantly repeat the same work under two, three, or four different forms, and he assigns to Lydgate numerous poems known to be the work of Chaucer and other contemporaries. A valuable list of 114 works by Lydgate, including many ballads and short pieces, is printed on Stowe's authority in Speght's edition of Chaucer's ‘Works,’ 1598 (fol. 394). Many of Lydgate's writings have been printed by Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, and Pynson, whose volumes are excessively rare, but a large number still remain in manuscript. The chief manuscript volumes are those transcribed by Shirley—Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 2251 (293 ff.) and Addit. MS. 16165, and Bodl. Ashmol. MS. 59—but each volume contains much work by other authors. Harl. MS. 2255 (once the property of John Stowe), Addit. MS. 29729 (a copy in Stowe's autograph of a volume once in Shirley's collection), Lansd. MS. 699, and manuscripts of the Earl of Ashburnham (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. iii.) are also important. Numerous short pieces will be found in very many other volumes in the Harleian collection, in the Bodleian Rawl. MS. c. 48 and Laud. Misc. 683, and in the Camb. Univ. Libr. MS. Kk. i. 6.
Lydgate's chief poems may be classified thus: I. Narrative or Epic. 1. ‘Falls of Princes,’ probably written between 1430 and 1438 for Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. It consists of 36,316 lines, and is a rendering in English verse (rhyme royal) of a French version by Laurent de Premierfait of Boccaccio's Latin prose work, ‘De Casibus Virorum Illustrium’ (cf. Koeppel, Laurents de Premierfait und John Lydgates Bearbeitungen von Boccaccios De Casibus, Munich, 1885). A contemporary manuscript is Harl. MS. 1766; five other copies are in the same collection; others are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 21410 (imperfect); at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, ccxlii.; at Belvoir Castle, the Duke of Rutland's seat (Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. p. 11), at Longleat (ib. 3rd Rep. p. 188), in Lord Mostyn's library (ib. 4th Rep. p. 362), in Earl of Jersey's library at Osterley (ib. 8th Rep. pt. ii. p. 101), and at Hunterian Museum, Glasgow. An extract, ‘The Tragedie of Duke Pompey,’ is in the Earl of Ashburnham's MS. (ib. 8th Rep. pt. iii. p. 106 b). It was twice printed in folio by Pynson, 27 Jan. 1494 (Bodl. and Brit. Mus. imp.), and 21 Feb. 1527 (Brit. Mus. and Trin. Coll. Camb.), under the title ‘The Tragedies gathered by Jhon Bochas of all such Princes as fell from theyr Estates through the mutability of Fortune since the Creation of Adam until his time.’ Other editions, by Tottel and John Wayland, are dated respectively 1554 and 1558. Some extracts appeared as ‘The Prouerbes of Lydgate’ (col. ‘Here endeth the prouerbes of Lydgate upon the fall of prynces. Enprynted at London in Flete Strete at the sygne of the sonne, by Wynkyn de Worde,’ 4to, 1510? Camb. Univ. Libr. and Brit. Mus.); this book contains, besides extracts from the ‘Falls,’ two short poems, ‘The Concords of Company’ and ‘A Poem against Self Love’ (Halliwell, Minor Poems, pp. 173–8, 156–164; cf. Harl. MS. 75, 78, No. 2).
2. ‘Troy Book’ (thirty thousand lines in heroic couplets, with prologue and epilogue and concluding address to Henry V in thirteen seven-line stanzas). Begun in 1412 it was completed about 1420, in the eighth year of Henry V's reign. The chief manuscripts are: Brit. Mus. MS. Cotton. Aug. A. iv.; Bodl. MS. Digby, 232; St. John's College, Oxford, vi.; the Earl of Ashburnham's MS. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. iii. p. 106 b); the Gloucester Cathedral Library (ib. 12th Rep. pt. ix. p. 399), and Mr. John Tollemache's MS. at Helmingham Hall, Suffolk (ib. 1st Rep. p. 60 b). The first-mentioned manuscript corresponds with a printed edition by Pynson, 1513, fol. (cf. Ward, pp. 75–9; copies are in Brit. Mus., Bodl., and on vellum in Huth Libr.). It reappeared in a text corrected by Robert Braham [q. v.] in 1555 as ‘The Auncient History and onely Trewe and Sincere Cronicles of the Warres betwixt the Grecians and Troyans, Wrytten by Daretas a Troyan, and Dictis a Grecian, and Digested in Latyn by the learned Guydo de Columpnis and sythēs translated into English Verse’ (by Thomas Marshe). Thomas Heywood produced a modernised version as ‘Life and Death of Hector’ (London, by T. Purfoot, 1614). Lydgate mainly paraphrased Guido di Colonna's ‘Historia de Bello Trojano,’ and perhaps Dares Phrygius or Dictys Cretensis (cf. Cambr. Antiquarian Society Proc. iii. 117).
3. ‘The Story of Thebes,’ undertaken, according to the prologue, when the poet was ‘nie fiftie yere of age,’ about 1420. Designed as an additional ‘Canterbury Tale,’ it is in three parts, of which the first reaches to the death of Œdipus, and the other two treat of the wars of Thebes. Lydgate followed some French prose version of the metrical ‘Roman de Thebes,’ but he may have occasionally consulted Statius's ‘Thebais,’ Seneca's ‘Œdipus,’ Boccaccio's ‘Teseide,’ and Chaucer's ‘Knightes Tale’ (cf. Koeppel, Lydgate's Story of Thebes, eine Quellenuntersuchung, Munich, 1884). It consists of 4,716 lines of heroic couplets, with a prologue. The chief manuscripts are: Brit. Mus. MS. Arundel, 119; Addit. MS. 18632, ff. 5–33 (followed by Hoccleve's ‘De Regimine’); Royal MS. D. ii. ff. 147 b–162 (imperfect); Cotton. Appendix, No. xxvii. ff. 11–61 (imperfect). Other manuscripts are at the Bodleian, Rawl. MS. c. 48, and Laud. Misc. 416, f. 227; at Longleat (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 188), in Sir H. R. Ingilby's library (ib. 6th Rep. 361a, with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), in Lord Mostyn's library (ib. 10th Rep. p. 361), and in Mr. J. H. Gurney's library, Keswick Hall, Norfolk (ib. 12th Rep. ix. 164). It was first printed by Wynkyn de Worde, n.d., 4to (1500?), with ‘The Interpretacyon’ [No. 18 below] and ‘Temple of Glas’ [No. 19] (imp. copy in Brit. Mus.), and again in Stowe's edition of Chaucer, 1561 (cf. Ward, pp. 87 sq.).
II. Devotional.—4. ‘The Life of our Lady’ (5,936 lines of rhyme royal), written for Henry V (cf. Brit. Mus.; Cotton MS. App. viii. No. 1; Harl. MS. 629 No. 1, 3862 No. 1, 3952 No. 1, 4011 No. 7, 5272 No. 1; Ashmol. MSS. 39 and 59 No. 67; at St. John's College, Oxford, MS. lvi.; Cambr. Univ. Libr. MS. Kk. i. 3; manuscript at Longleat, see Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 180, and in Lord Mostyn's manuscript, see ib. 4th Rep. p. 35 a; cf. p. 360). It was printed by Caxton, 1484 (Brit. Mus. and Bodl.: a fragment of a second edition by Caxton is in the Bodleian Library). It was reissued by Robert Redman, 1531, and again as ‘Early English Religious Literature,’ No. 2, ed. C. E. Tame, ‘from manuscripts in the British Museum,’ London, 1871. 5. ‘Our Lady's Lamentacion’ (cf. Ashmol. MSS. 59, f. 66, and Harl. MS. 2255 No. 15); printed by de Worde, and in ‘Early English Religious Literature,’ ed. Tame, No. 1. 6. ‘The Vertue of ye Masse’ (574 lines in rhyme royal), printed by Wynkyn de Worde (Cambr. Univ. Libr.), and reprinted in Huth's ‘Fugitive Tracts,’ 1st ser. 1875. The eleventh stanza claims Lydgate as the author. 7. ‘Dance of Death,’ or ‘Dance Machabre,’ from the French, in 24 quatrains, written for pictures (cf. Lansd. MS. 699); printed at the end of Tottell's editions of the ‘Falls,’ 1554; in Dugdale's ‘St. Paul's,’ ed. 1658, p. 289; in Holbein's drawings of the ‘Dance of Death,’ ed. Douce, 1794; and in Holbein's ‘Alphabet of Death,’ Paris, 1846, ed. Montaiglon (cf. Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, iv. 704). 8. ‘On the Procession at the Feast of Corpus Christi’ (cf. Longleat MS., Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 183); printed in Nicholas's ‘Chronicle of London,’ 1827, and in Halliwell, p. 95. 9. ‘Lydgate's Testament’ (897 lines, seventy alternately rhyming eight-line stanzas, forty-seven stanzas in rhyme royal) (cf. Harl. MS. 2255, fol. 47–66, and Harl. MS. 218; MS. Coll. Jes. Cantab. Q.T. 8). It was printed by Pynson, n.d. (Cambridge, Bridgewater House, and the British Museum), and in Halliwell, 232 sq.
III. Hagiological.—10. ‘Life of Albon and Amphabel,’ translated ‘out of french and laten into English’ (4,724 lines of rhyme royal). (Cf. MSS. Trin. Coll. Oxford, 38, Lincoln Cathedral, 157, Lansd. MSS., 699, ff. 96–1766, and Phillipps, Cheltenham, 8299; see Hardy, Descriptive Cat. Rolls Ser. i. 23–4). It was ‘printed at the request of Robert Catton, abbot of thexempt monastery of saynt Albon,’ 1533, by John Herford at St. Albans, 4to, and was re-edited in 1882 by Carl Horstmann from the Trin. College MS., and the 1533 imprint (Berlin). 11. ‘The Legend of St. Edmund and Fremund’ (3,693 lines of rhyme royal). An illuminated manuscript, apparently the dedication copy, is Harl. MS. 2278. (Cf. Harl. MS. 372, 4826; Ashmol. MS. 46; Tanner MS. 347 [Edmund only]; and MS. belonging to Lord Mostyn— Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 350). It was printed by Horstmann in ‘Altenglische Legenden,’ Neue Folge (pp. 376–445), along with 464 ‘Verses commemorating Miracles wrought by St. Edmund in 1441 and 1444’ (cf. Retrospective Review, new ser. i. 98, 100). Another edition by Dr. Axel Erdmann is announced by the Early English Text Society (cf. Hardy, i. 523, 537). 12. ‘A Goodly Narrative how St. Augustine the Apostle of England raised two Dead Bodies at Long Compton, collected out of divers authors’ (408 lines), printed at Canterbury, 4to, before 1520 (no copy known), and in Halliwell, p. 135 (cf. Harl. MS. 2255, ff. 24, 32). 13. ‘Life of St. Giles’ (368 lines of rhyme royal), printed in Horstmann, ii. 368 sq. (cf. Harl. MS. 2255, f. 95, and Lansd. MS. 699, ff. 2–3, imperfect). 14. ‘Life of St. Margarete,’ written in 1430 (540 lines), printed in Horstmann, ii. 371 sq. (cf. MS. in Bishop Cosin's Libr. Durham, and Addit. MS. 29729 f. 170 b.)
IV. Philosophical and Scientific.—15. ‘Court of Sapience’ (2, 282 lines of rhyme royal). The chief manuscript is at Trin. Coll. Cambr., formerly the property of Stowe. It was printed as ‘Curia Sapientiæ, or the Court of Sapience, in ballad royal’ [n. p. or d.], by Caxton, 1481? (St. John's Coll. Oxf. and Althorpe), and by W. de Worde in 1510 (cf. Addit. MS. 29729). A new edition by Dr. Borsdorf was long ago announced by Early Eng. Text. Soc. 16. ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ ‘Secrees of Old Philosoffres,’ a rendering in rhyme royal of a mediæval treatise on the training of princes wrongly assigned to Aristotle, and said to have been written at the request of Alexander the Great. Lydgate depended on one of the many Latin prose versions, with possibly one of the French prose manuscripts. Hoccleve derived his ‘De Regimine Principum’ from a like source, and Gower a digression in his ‘Confessio,’ bk. vii. Lydgate only translated detached portions of the work, and it was edited and completed by his disciple, Benedict Burgh [q. v.] Lydgate's part in the completed versions ends with the end of the 213th stanza and with the line
Deth al consumyth, whych may nat be.
Immediately after it the manuscripts have the rubric, ‘Here deyed this translatour and nobyl poete, and the yonge folwere gan his prologe on this wyse.’ Lydgate's share extends to 1,484 lines and Burgh's to 1,239. The chief manuscripts are: Sloane MS. 2464; Addit. MS. 14408 (dated 1473); Harl. MS. 4826, ff. 52a–81a; Arundel MS. 59, ff. 90a–130b (written about 1470); Harl. MS. 2251, ff. 188 b–224a. See also manuscripts belonging to the Earl of Ashburnham (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. iii. 107, ‘A Booke of the Governour of Kings or Princes’). The work was printed from the Sloane MS. 2464, for the Early Eng. Text. Soc. (1893), under the editorship of Mr. Robert Steele. 17. ‘Medicina Stomachi,’ or the ‘Diatory’ (81 lines), in alternate rhyme, a poem, printed by Caxton with ‘The Governal of Health,’ 1489? 4to (Bodl.) The whole volume was reprinted by William Blades in 1850. The Harl. MS. 116 assigns the poem to Lydgate. Very similar verses by Lydgate are known as ‘Rules for Preserving Health’ (Halliwell, p. 66; and Lansd. MS. 699), and are adapted from the ‘Secreta.’
V. Allegories, Fables and Moral Romance.—18. ‘The Assembly of Gods’ (2,107 lines of rhyme royal), thrice printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1498 (Brit. Mus.), between 1498 and 1500 (Cambr. Univ. Libr.); and in 1500 (Brit. Mus.), as ‘Assemble de Dyeus,’ with the ‘Story of Thebes’ and ‘Temple of Glas’ (Brit. Mus. and Cambr. Univ. Libr.); again as ‘The Interpretacyon of the Natures of Goddys and Goddesses, as is rehersed in this treatyse followyng as poetes wryte,’ by Richard Pynson, n.d., and by Robert Redman (n.d., 4to, and 1540, 16mo). Prudentius's ‘Psychomachia’ may have been used by Lydgate. A new edition was issued by the Early English Text Soc. in 1896. 19. ‘The Temple of Glas,’ wrongly claimed for Stephen Hawes [q. v.] (cf. at Oxford, Tanner MS. 346; Fairfax MS. 16; Bodl. 638; at Cambridge, Magd. Coll., Pepys, 2006; Univ. Libr. Gg. 4. 27; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 16165; and at Longleat, Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. pp. 188–9). It was printed by Caxton, 1479 (?) (Cambr. Univ. Libr.); thrice by Wynkyn de Worde (Brit. Mus., Advocates' Library, Edinb., and Duke of Devonshire's Library); by R. Pynson, 1500 (?), 4to (Bodl., fragments), and by Berthelet, n.d. (Bodl.). It was reprinted by Early Eng. Text Soc. in 1892, and the first edition appeared in facsimile at Cambridge in 1905. ‘A temple ymad of glas’ figures in Chaucer's ‘House of Fame,’ ll. 119–120. 20. ‘Æsop’ (959 lines of rhyme royal); a version of seven fables, possibly written while Lydgate was at Oxford, about 1387 (cf. Harl. MS. 2251, ff. 283 sq.; Ashmol. MS. 186), printed by Sauerstein from the former manuscript in ‘Anglia,’ ix. 1–24, and again by Zupitza in ‘Archiv,’ lxxxv. 1. 21. ‘The Fable of the Horse, the Sheep, and the Goose,’ in 658 lines of rhyme royal (cf. Lansd. MS. 699; Harl. MS. 2251, fol. 314–316; Lambeth MS. 306; Rawl. MS. C. 48; Laud. MS. 598; Cambr. Univ. Libr. Hh. iv. 52). It was twice printed by Caxton, 1479(?) (Cambr. Univ. Libr., and York Cathedral Libr.); thrice by Wynkyn de Worde, 1500(?) (Cambr. Univ. Libr.); reprinted by Roxburghe Club in 1818, and by Halliwell, pp. 117 sq. 22. ‘Flour of Curtesie’ (270 lines of rhyme royal), written after Chaucer's death (cf. Envoy), and in imitation of Chaucer's ‘Parliament of Foules;’ printed in Chaucer's ‘Works,’ 1561, fol. ccxlviii, with a ballade forming part of it. 23. ‘Compleint of the Black Knight,’ in metre, imitating ‘The Book of the Duchess,’ with some interesting references to Chaucer (cf. Addit. MS. 16165, by Shirley, Bodl. MS. 638, Tanner MS. 346, Digby MS. 181); printed in Chaucer's ‘Works,’ 1561, f. cclxx and modernised as ‘from Chaucer’ by Mr. Dart in 1718. 24. ‘Chorl and Bird’ (386 lines of rhyme royal) with an envoy ‘Unto my maister,’ Chaucer (d. 1400), perhaps from a French fabliau, ‘Le Lais de l'Oiselet,’ or a French version of the ‘Disciplina Clericalis’ (cf. Cott. MS. Calig. A. ii. and Harl. MS. 116, ff. 146–52). It was twice printed by Caxton, 1479 (?), 4to (Cambr. Univ. Libr.), and 1480 (?) (York Chapter Library); by Pynson , 4to (Brit. Mus.); twice by Wynkyn de Worde, 1500 (?) and 1507 (Duke of Devonshire and Cambr. Univ. Libr.); by John Mychell, 1540 (?) (Bodl. and Ellesmere Libr.); by Wylliam Copland, 1550(?). Caxton's second edition was reprinted for the Roxburghe Club in 1818, and Copland's edition in Ashmole's ‘Theatrum Chemicum,’ 1652, 4to. It is also in Halliwell's ‘Minor Poems,’ p. 179 sq. 25. ‘Fabula duorum mercatorum,’ 910 lines of rhyme royal (cf. Harl. MSS. 2251, 33, fol. 56 and 2255). The tale is probably drawn from ‘Gesta Romanorum’ (‘De vera amicitia’), or from the French version of the ‘Disciplina Clericalis,’ known as ‘Le Castoiement d'un Père à son Fils,’ or from Boccaccio's ‘Tito and Gisippo’ in ‘Decamerone,’ x. 8 (cf. Ward, i. 929). Printed by Zupitza and Schleich in ‘Quellen und Forschungen,’ Vienna, vol. 83. 26. ‘Reason and Sensuality’ (cf. Bodl. MS. Fairfax, 16, and Addit. MS. 29729 f. 184, imperfect). An edition by Dr. Schick is in preparation for the Early English Text Society. Alanus ab Insulis's ‘De Planeta Naturæ,’ the ‘Roman de la Rose,’ and moral allegories based or drawn from the game of chess have been suggested as its sources. 27. ‘Pilgrimage of Man,’ an English metrical version written in 1426 of Deguilleville's ‘Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine,’ pt. i. (Cotton. MSS. Tib. A. vii. ff. 39–106, Vitell. C xiii. ff. 2–308, both imperfect; Ashburnham Libr.—Hist. MSS. Comm., 8th Rep. pt. iii. 30 a, and at Ewelme Almshouse, Oxford, ib., 8th Rep. pt. ii. 629 a). Extracts appear in ‘The Ancient Poem of Guillaume de Guilleville compared with Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress,’ by Nathaniel Hill. The work was first printed by Early Eng. Text Soc. (1899–1901). Chaucer's ‘A.B.C.’ renders a portion of the original, and when Lydgate arrived at the passage dealt with by Chaucer (ff. 255–6), he wrote:
My mayster Chaucer in hys time
After the French he dyde it ryme,
and left a blank space for the insertion of Chaucer's ‘A.B.C.’ (cf. W. Aldis Wright, Deguileville's Lyf of the Manhode, Roxb. Club, 1869, ii. ix.; Furnivall, Trial Forewords, pp. 13–15, 100; Skeat, Minor Poems, p. xlviii). 28. ‘Of Two Monstrous Beasts, Bicorne and Chichesache’ (cf. Harl. MS. 2251, ff. 270–2), doutless borrowed from a French mystery play. A manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge, describes it as devised at the request of a London citizen, as a design for tapestry (cf. Gent. Mag. 1834, pt. ii.); printed in Dodsley's ‘Old Plays,’ 1780, xii. 333, and in Halliwell, p. 129.
VI. Historical (α Political).—29. ‘Verses on the Kings of England after the Conquest till Henry VI’ (cf. Lansd. MS. 699, f. 79; Cott. MS. Jul. E. iv. No. 1; Harl. MS. 2251, with later additions, and Addit. MS. 31042, f. 96, imperfect; at Oxford, Ashmol. MSS. 59 and 456; Tanner MS. 383, f. 51; and Rawl. MS. c. 48, No. 3). It was printed in a single sheet by Wynkyn de Worde, 25 June 1530 (Cambr. Univ. Libr.), and in ‘Historical Collections’ (Camd. Soc. 1876, pp. xvi, 49 sq.). 30. ‘Pur le Roy’ (544 lines of rhyme royal), the entry of Henry VI into London after his coronation in France (cf. Harl. MS. 565, ff. 114–24; Cotton. MS. Julius, b. ii. ff. 87, 98; and Cotton. MS. Cleop. c. iv. ff. 38–48). Printed by Nicolas (London Chronicle, pp. 235–50), and in Halliwell, pp. 1 sq.
(β Romantic) 31. ‘Guy of Warwick,’ about 1420, from the lost Chronicle of Girardus Cornubiensis [see Guy of Warwick] (cf. Bodl. Laud. Misc. 683 and Brit. Mus. Lansd. MS. 699, ff. 18 b–19 b, and Harl. MS. 7333, f. 35 b). Revised by John Lane, it was licensed for the press in 1617 (cf. Harl. MS. 5243).
VII. Social Satire. 32. ‘London Lackpenny’ (112 lines of rhyme royal) (cf. Harl. MSS. 367 and 542); printed by Strutt, Pugh, Nicolas (Chronicle, 2 versions, pp. 260 sq.), and partly by Stowe, and from the first manuscript by Halliwell, pp. 103 sq. 33. ‘A Treatyse called Galand’ (i.e. gallant), 234 lines rhyme royal, written on the occasion of the final expulsion of the English from France in 1451; assigned by Alcock in ‘Sermon on Luke, viii.’ (Wynkyn de Worde, n.d. 1496?) to Lydgate. It is an attack on the French customs and modes of dress adopted by the English upper classes, and is marked by the refrain: ‘England may wayle, yt euer Galand came here’ (cf. Brydges, Brit. Bibliographer, ii. 532). It was printed by De Worde anonymously thrice (1520? and 1525) and was reprinted in Ashbee's facsimile reprints, and in Hazlitt's ‘English Popular Literature,’ ii. 151 sq. 34. ‘Of a mariage betwixt an olde Man and a yonge wife’ (546 lines of rhyme royal), printed from Harl. MS. 372 ff. 45–51, by Halliwell, p. 27.
VIII. Occasional Poems. The following printed in the 1561 edition of Chaucer may be safely assigned to Lydgate: ‘A Saying of Dan Ihon’ (f. cccxxxii); ‘A Ballade of Good Counseile translated out of Latin’ (f. cccxxxvii; cf. Cambr. Univ. Libr. MS. Ff. i. 6); ‘A Ballade in Commendacion of our Ladie’ (f. cccxxix); two stanzas, ‘Go foorthe Kyng rule thou by Sapience’ (f. cccxxxvi); ‘A Ballade which Chaucer made in the Praise, or rather Dispraise, of Women for their Doublenes’ (f. cccxl; cf. Fairfax MS. 16, and Ashmol. MS. 59); ‘A Ballade warning Men to Beware of deceiptfull Women’ (f. cccxliiii; cf. Harl. MS. 2251). Lydgate is also credited, apparently on good grounds, with ‘Chaucer's Proverbs,’ printed in Dr. R. Morris's edition of Chaucer's ‘Works,’ vi. 303; manuscripts of these are in Addit. MS. 16165, Fairfax MS. 16, and Harl. MS. 7578.
Halliwell printed forty-four works as ‘A Selection from the Minor Poems of Dan John Lydgate’ (Percy Society, 1840). Of these pieces many have been already specified. Among the others, ‘Dan Joos,’ p. 62, from Vincent de Beauvais's ‘Speculum Historiale’ (cf. Harl. MS. 2251, f. 70 b), imitating at some points Chaucer's ‘Prioress's Tale,’ was re-edited in ‘Originals and Analogues’ (Chaucer Soc. 286 sq. 1888) as ‘The Monk who honoured the Virgin.’ Similarly Lydgate's ‘Order of Fools’ (Halliwell, 164–71, from Harl. MS. 2251) was edited from Cotton MS. Nero, A. vi. 11, 36, in ‘Queen Elizabeth's Achademy’ (Early English Text Society), 79–84 (cf. Bodl. MS. 798). At least two, ‘Moral of the Legend of Dido,’ p. 69, and ‘A Poem against Idlenes,’ p. 84, are extracts from the ‘Falls of Princes’ (bk. ii. pp. 13, 14, 15).
IX. Poems doubtfully assigned to Lydgate. Although manuscripts (cf. Cambr. Univ. Libr. MS. Hh., iv. 12) frequently credit Lydgate with the well-known poem ‘Stans Puer ad Mensam’ (printed by Caxton, 1479? and frequently later), his authorship has been questioned. Similar doubts exist respecting ‘The Childe of Bristowe, a tale of Bristol,’ a moral tale in ninety-three six-line stanzas, often printed as his from Harl. MS. 2382, f. 118, in ‘Retrospective Review,’ new ser. pt. vi., in Halliwell's Nugæ Poeticæ, 1844; in Hazlitt's Early Popular Poetry, i. 111 sq.; in Horstmann's ‘Sammlung Altenglischen Legenden,’ ii. 315; and in the ‘Camden Miscellany,’ vol. iv. 1859. Some poems are doubtfully included by Halliwell, e.g. ‘Thank God for all Things,’ p. 225 (cf. Anglia, vii. 306 sq.); ‘Make Amendes,’ p. 228 (cf. ib. p. 281); ‘On the Instability of Human Affairs,’ p. 74; ‘Measure is Treasure,’ p. 213 (last two verses); ‘Devotion of the Fowls,’ p. 78; ‘A Ditty upon Improvement,’ p. 222 (Koeppel, Laurents de Premierfait, p. 76 n.)
The only Prose work certainly assigned to Lydgate is ‘The Damage and Destruccyon in Realmes,’ written by Lydgate in December 1400; (manuscript in Lord Calthorpe's library—Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. p. 402). It is an account of Julius Cæsar's wars and death, and was printed with an ‘envoye’ in verse by Peter Treveris, 1520?, 12mo; again as ‘The Serpent of Division,’ London, by Owen Rogers, 1559, 8vo, and under the same title together with ‘The Tragedye of Gorboduc,’ by E. Allde, for Iohn Perrin, 1590, 4to (cf. Gorboduc, ed. Toulmin Smith, p. xxi). The ‘Pilgrimage of the Soul,’ printed by Caxton, 6 June 1483, a rendering into English prose of Jehan de Gallopes's French prose version of Guillaume de Deguilleville's ‘Pèlerinage de l'Ame,’ may be Lydgate's; a few poems, which also appear in Lydgate's ‘Life of our Lady,’ are added by Caxton (cf. Blades, Caxton, p. 262; Aldis Wright, Deguileville, Roxb. Club, vol. ix.) Lydgate has been wrongly credited with Burgh's ‘Cato Major’ and ‘Cato Minor’ (Harl. MS. 2251); and with a translation of Vegetius made for Sir Thomas Berkeley in 1408 (Lansd. MS. 285).
Seven miniature portraits, appearing in illuminated manuscripts of Lydgate's works, have been identified with the poet: (1) in Harl. MS. 4826, ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ an old man dressed in the black habit of the Benedictines, presenting a poem called the ‘Pilgrim’ (i.e. ‘Pilgrimage of Man’) to Thomas Montacute, earl of Salisbury; (2) in Harl. MS. 2278, 1, ‘Life of St. Edmund,’ the poet presenting his work at St. Edmund's shrine to Henry VI in presence of William Curteis, abbot of Bury; (3) Arundel MS. 119, f. 1, ‘Thebes,’ in the first initial, figure of a black monk on horseback; (4) in Aug. A. iv. ‘Troy-book;’ (5) in Harl. MS. 1766, 3, ‘Fall of Princes;’ (6) in Bodl. MS. Digby, 232, ‘Troy Book;’ (7) in Ashmole MS. 46, ‘Secreta Secretorum,’ author presenting book to the king (defaced).
[Dr. Schick's valuable introduction to the Temple of Glas (Early English Text Soc.) supplies most of the information currently accessible. Mr. Steele's preface to his edition of Secreta Secretorum (for the same society) adds some important documents. See also Koeppel's tracts on the Falls of Princes and Story of Thebes; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, ed. Hazlitt; Ritson's Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica; Chaucer's Minor Poems, ed. Skeat; Ward's Cat. of Romances, vol. i.; Morley's English Writers; Collier's Bibliographical Catalogue; Hazlitt's Bibliographical Collections; Ames's Typographical Antiquities, ed. Herbert and Dibdin; Corser's Collectanea; A Chronicle of London from 1089 to 1483 anon. (1827, 4to), ed. Nicolas; J. Schipper's Englishe Metrik, i. 429 sq. ii. 193, 916; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Bale's Scriptores; Pits's Scriptores; Catalogues of MSS. in Brit. Mus., Oxford and Cambridge, esp. Harleian Cat. and Black's Cat. of Ashmolean MSS. Some information has been most kindly supplied by R. R. Steele, esq., Canon Clayton of Peterborough, and E. Gordon-Duff, esq.]