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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

IV. Barclay and Skelton

§ 11. Why come ye nat to courte?

All Skelton’s poems against Wolsey are full of exaggerations and unjust imputations. Wolsey’s statesmanship, his learning and the services he rendered to his country, are grossly underrated; but, here again, Skelton expresses not only his personal opinion but that of a large portion of the nation, which hated the omnipotent minister and held him responsible for many things, not all of which could be laid to his charge. In any case, we must admire the poet’s courage. For, even if Why come ye nat to courte was not printed then, the poem must have circulated in numerous copies. Wolsey must have heard of it pretty soon, if he did not even get a sight of it himself, and Skelton must have been well aware of the consequences. As has been seen, he had a very narrow escape from the cardinal’s revenge.

We have not yet spoken of Skelton’s extant dramatic production. The lost Robin Hood pageant, mentioned above, was not his only attempt in that direction. In the Garlande of Laurell he mentions “of Vertu the soverayne enterlude” (1177) and “the commedy, Achademios callyd by name” (1184). Neither has been preserved, and the loss of the latter is to be regretted particularly, because, probably, it would have shown Skelton’s views on educational questions, whereas now we have only a few dark passages in Speke, Parrot for information on that point. Another of Skelton’s comedies, De bono ordine, is mentioned by Bale; and Warton relates the plot of a play called Negromansir, which treated of a lawsuit against Simony and Avarice, with the devil as judge and a public notary as barrister or scribe. Warton’s account is somewhat mysterious but the subject would have been truly Skeltonic. The poet is said to have used all sorts of metres and to have interspersed the English text with numerous scraps of Latin and French. What the “paiauntes that were played in Joyows Garde” (G. of L. 1583) were like, it is impossible to say. The Enterlude of Godly Queene Hester is probably not by Skelton.