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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

275 Edmund Spenser 1552?-1599 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
QUOTATION:I was promised on a time
To have reason for my rhyme;
From that time unto this season,
I received nor rhyme nor reason. 1
ATTRIBUTION:Lines on his Promised Pension. 2
Note 1.
Rhyme nor reason.—Pierre Patelin, quoted by Tyndale in 1530. Farce du Vendeur des Lieures, sixteenth century. George Peele: Edward I. William Shakespeare: As You Like It, act iii. sc. 2; Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 5; Comedy of Errors, act ii. sc. 2.

Sir Thomas More advised an author, who had sent him his manuscript to read, “to put it in rhyme.” Which being done, Sir Thomas said, “Yea, marry, now it is somewhat, for now it is rhyme; before it was neither rhyme nor reason.” [back]
Note 2.
Thomas Fuller: Worthies of England, vol ii. p. 379. [back]