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      Amongst the various devices to establish a royal road to infantine learning, none are more ancient or useful than the rhymes which serve to impress the letters of the alphabet upon the attention and memory of children. As early as the fifteenth century, "Mayster Benet," who was rector of Sandon, in Essex, in 1440, and afterwards a prebend of St. Paul's, composed or translated an alphabet-rhyme, which not only professed to recall the memory of the letters, but at a time when the benefit of clergy was in vogue, held out the inducement of providing means for avoiding the punishment of death. The following copy is taken from two versions in MS. Harl. 541, compared with each other:
      "Who so wyll be wyse and worshyp to wynne, leern he on lettur and loke upon another of the A. B.C. of Arystotle. Noon argument agaynst that, ffor it is counselle for clerkes and knightes a thowsand; and also it myght amend a meane man fulle oft the lernyng of a lettur, and his lyf save. It shal not greve a good man, though gylt be amend. Rede on this ragment, and rule the theraftur, and whoso be grevid yn his goost governe the bettur. Herkyn and here every man and child how that I begynne:
A. to Amerous, to Aventurous, ne Angre the not to moche.
B. to Bold, to Besy, and Bourde not to large.
C. to Curtes, to Cruel, and Care not to sore.
D. to Dulle, to Dredefulle, and Drynk not to oft.
E. to Ellynge, to Excellent, ne to Ernstfulle neyther.
F. to Ferse, ne to Familier, but Frendely of chere.
G. to Glad, to Gloryous, and Gelowsy thow hate.
H. to Hasty, to Hardy, ne to Hevy yn thyne herte.
J. to Jettyng, to Janglyng, and Jape not to oft.
K. to Keping, to Kynd, and ware Knaves tatches among.
L. to Lothe, to Lovyng, to Lyberalle of goodes.
M. to Medlus, to Mery, but as Maner asketh.
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N. to Noyous, to Nyce, nor yet to Newefangle.
Or. to Orpyd, to Ovyrthwarte, and Othes thou hate.
P. to Preysyng, to Privy, with Prynces ne with dukes.
Q. to Queynt, to Querelous, to Quesytife of questions.
R. to Ryetous, to Revelyng, ne Rage not to meche.
S. to Straunge, ne to Steryng, nor Stare not to brode.
T. to Taylous, to Talewyse, for Temperaunce ys best.
V. to Venemous, to Vengeable, and Wast not to myche.
W. to Wyld, to Wrothfulle, and Wade not to depe,
A mesurabulle meane Way is best for us alle."

      Eachard, a learned clergyman of the Church of England, published a work in 1671,*

Observations, &c., 8vo. Lond. 1671, p. 160.

in which he condescends to illustrate his argument by a reference to this celebrated history. Talking of the various modes of preaching adopted by different sects, he proceeds in this manner: "And whereas it has been observed that some of our clergie are sometimes over nice in taking notice of meer words that they find in texts, so these are so accurate as to go to the very letters. As suppose, sir, you are to give an exhortation to repentance upon that of St. Matthew, 'Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand:' you must observe that Repent is a rich word, wherein every letter exhorts us to our duty, — Repent, R. readily, E. earnestly, P. presently, E. effectually, N. nationally, T. thoroughly. Again, Repent Roaringly, Eagerly, Plentifully, Heavily (because of h), Notably, Terribly. And why not, Repent Rarely, Evenly, Prettily, Elegantly, Neatly, Tightly? And also, why not, A apple-pasty, B bak'd it, C cut it, D divided it, E eat it, F fought for it, G got it, &c. I had not time, sir, to look any further into their way of preaching; but if I had, I am sure I should have found that they have no reason to despise our church upon p.138 / that account." The worthy divine would have censured the sermon on Malt attributed to the elder Dodd.
      We thus find this nursery romance descending in all its purity for nearly two centuries. It may be even older than the time of Charles II., for it does not appear as a novelty in the quotation we have just given. Be this as it may, the oldest edition I know of was printed some half-century since by Marshall, in Aldermary Churchyard, entitled "The Tragical Death of A. Applepye, who was cut in pieces and eat by twenty-five gentlemen, with whom all little people ought to be very well acquainted," which runs as follows:

A. apple-pye, B. bit it,
C. cut it, D. dealt it,
E. eat it, F. fought for it,
G. got it, H. had it,*
J. join'd for it, K. kept it,
L. long'd for it, M. mourn'd for it,
N. nodded at it, O. open'd it,
P. peep'd in it, Q. quarter'd it,
R. ran for it, S. stole it,
T. took it, V. viewed it, W. wanted it;
X. Y. Z. and Ampersy-and,
They all wish'd for a piece in hand.

At last they every one agreed
Upon the apple-pye to feed;
But as there seem'd to be so many,
Those who were last might not have any.
Unless some method there was taken,
That every one might save their bacon.
They all agreed to stand in order
Around the apple-pye's fine border.
Take turn as they in hornbook stand,
From great A down to &,
In equal parts the pye divide,
As you may see on t'other side.

Some copies say "H. halv'd it, I. ey'd it," and afterwards, "U. hew'd it, .. X. crossed it, Y. yearn'd for it, and Z. put it in his pocket, and said, Well done!"

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      Then follows a woodcut of the pie, surrounded by a square of the letters, though it is not very easy to perceive how the conditions of the problem are to be fulfilled. The remainder of the book, a small 32mo., is occupied with "A Curious Discourse that passed between the twenty-five letters at dinner-time,"—

Says A, give me a good large slice.
Says B, a little bit, but nice.
Says C, cut me a piece of crust.
Take it, says D, it's dry as dust.
Says E, I'll eat now fast, who will.
Says F, I vow I'll have my fill.
Says G, give it me good and great.
Says H, a little bit I hate.
Says I, I love the juice the best,
And K the very same confest.
Says L, there's nothing more I love,
Says M, it makes your teeth to move.
N noticed what the others said;
O others' plates with grief survey'd.
P praised the cook up to the life.
Q quarrel'd 'cause he'd a bad knife.
Says R, it runs short, I'm afraid.
S silent sat, and nothing said.
T thought that talking might lose time;
U understood it at meals a crime.
W wish'd there had been a quince in;
Says X, those cooks there's no convincing.
Says Y, I'll eat, let others wish.
Z sat as mute as any fish,
While Ampersy-and he licked the dish.
      The manner in which a practical moral good was to be inferred from this doggerel is not very apparent, but Mr. Marshall had a way of his own in settling the difficulty. The finale must not be omitted: "Having concluded their discourse and dinner together, I have nothing more to add, but that, if my little readers are pleased with what they have found in this book, they have nothing to do but to run to Mr. Marshall's at p.140 / No. 4, in Aldermary Churchyard, where they may have several books, not less entertaining than this, of the same size and price. But that you may not think I leave you too abruptly, I here present you with the picture of the old woman who made the apple-pye you have been reading about. She has several more in her basket, and she promises, if you are good children, you shall never go supperless to bed while she has one left. But as good people always ask a blessing of God before meals, therefore, as a token that you are good, and deserve a pye, you must learn the two following graces, the one to be said before the meals, the other after; and the Lord's prayer every night and morning." Two graces and the Lord's Prayer conclude the tract.
      The following alphabet or literal rhyme refers to Carr, Earl of Somerset, the favorite of James I:
J. C. U. R.
Good Mounseir Car
     About to fall;
U. R. A. K.
As most men say,
     Yet that's not all.
U. O. K. P.
With a nullytye,
     That shamelesse packe!
S. X. his yf (wife),
Whos shamelesse lyfe
     Hath broke your backe.
MS. Sloane 1489, f. 9, v°.

          A. B. C.
          D. E. F. G.
H. I. J. K., if you look you'll see;
          L. M. N. O. P. Q.
          R. S. T. U. V. W.
          X. Y. Z.

Heigh ho! my heart is low,
    My mind is all on one;
It's W for I know who,
    And T for my love, Tom!