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a tragedye, and to all PRINCES a right worthy instruction, we paused; having passed through a miserable tyme, full of pyteous tragedyes. And seyng the reygne of Henry the Fourth ensued, a man more ware and prosperous in hys doynges, although not untroubled with warres both of outforthe and inward enemyes, we began to serch what Pyers [peers] were fallen therein, wherof the number was not small: and yet because theyr examples were not muche to be noted for our purpose, we passed over all the Maskers, of whom kynge Rycharde's brother was chiefe: whych were all slayne and put to death for theyr trayterous attempt. And fyndynge Owen Glendoure next one of Fortune's owne whelpes, and the Percyes his confederates, I thought them unmete to be overpassed, and therefore sayd thus to the sylent cumpany, What, my maysters, is every one at once in a browne study, and hath no man affection to any of these storyes? You mynd so much some other belyke, that those do not move you. And to say the trouth, there is no special cause why they should. Howbeyt Owen Glendoure, becaus he was one of Fortune's darlynges, rather than he should be forgotten, I wil tel his tale for him, under the privelidge of Martine hundred. Which OWEN, cuming out of the wilde mountains lyke the Image of Death in al pointes, (his darte onlie excepted,) so sore hath famyne and hunger consumed hym, may lament his folly after this maner." This process was a departure from Sackville's idea; who supposes, as I have hinted, the scene laid in hell, and that the unfortunate princes appeared to him in succession, and uttered their respective complaints, at the gates of Elysium, under the guidance of SORROW.
Many stanzas in the legends written by Baldwyne and Ferrers, and their friends, have considerable merit, and often shew a command of language and versification. But their performances have not the pathos which the subject so naturally suggests. They give us, yet often with no common degree of elegance and perspicuity, the chronicles of Hall and Fabyan in verse. I shall therefore, in examining this part of the MIRROUR OF MAGISTRATES, confine my criticism to Sackville's INDUCTION and Legend of Buckingham.
* That is, Baldwyne had previously prepared and written his legend or monologue, and one of the company was to act his part, and assume this appearance. fol. xviii. b.
f These lines in Collingbourne's legend are remarkable, fol. cxliiii. a.
Like Pegasus a poet must have wynges,
He must have knowledge of eternal
[Mr. Haslewood states the reference in this note to agree with the edition of 1563, and that the extract accords with an improved reading which first appeared in 1571.-PRICE.]
Sackville's Induction to the Mirrour for Magistrates.
Comparative view of Dante's
SACKVILLE'S INDUCTION, which was to have been placed at the head of our English tragical story, and which loses much of its dignity and propriety by being prefixed to a single life, and that of no great historical importance, is opened with the following poetical landscape of wintera.
The wrathfull winter, prochinge on apace,
With blustring blasts had all ybard the treene;
With chilling colde had pearst the tender greene:
The soile that earst so seemly was to seen,
Was all despoyled of her beauty's hewe;
And soote freshe flowres, wherewith the sommers queen
The naked twigges were shivering all for colde;
When loe the night, with mistie mantels spred,
See fol. cxvi. [Warton's text is taken from the edition of 1610, corrected by the emendations of Capell in his Prolusions. Some of these are manifestly erroneous, and the original readings have consequently been restored. Sir Egerton Brydges objects to the reading of the seventh line,
The altered scene of things, the flowers and verdure of summer deformed by the frosts and storms of winter, and the day suddenly over
because "bloom applies to spring, not autumn." Have we then no autumnal flowers? It may be questioned whether the modern abstract idea of "bloom" was current in Sackville's day. But the succeeding stanza clearly justifies Warton's election.-PRICE.]
spread with darkness, remind the poet of the uncertainties of human life, the transient state of honour, and the instability of prosperity.
And sorrowing I to see the sommer flowers,
The sturdy trees so shattred with the showers,
Then looking upwards to the heavens eams,
Immediately the figure of SORROW suddenly appears, which shows the poet in a new and bolder mode of composition.
And strayt forth stalking with redoubled pace,
Her body small, forwithered and forespent,
I stoode agast, beholding all her plight,
Unwrap thy woes, whatever wight thou be!
Thou canst not dure with sorowe thus attaynt.
Alas, I wretche, whom thus thou seest distrayned,
Whence come I am, the drery destinie,
And luckles lot, for to bemone of those,
Of wretched chaunce, most wofull myrrours chose :
Theyr pomp, theyr power, and that they thought most sure,
SORROW then conducts the poet to the classical hell, to the place of torments and the place of happiness.
I shall thee guyde first to the griesly lake,
Where thou shalt see and heare the playnt they make,
And with these wordes as I upraysed stood
And gan to folowe her that straight forth paste,
We nowe were come: where hand in hand embraced,
As, but I had beene guyded by her might,
But loe! while thus amid the desert darke
An hydeous hole al vast, withouten shape,
A deadly gulfe where nought but rubbish growes,
Our author appears to have felt and to have conceived with true taste, that very romantic part of Virgil's Eneid, which he has here happily copied and heightened. The imaginary beings which sate within the porch of hell, are all his own. I must not omit a single figure of this dreadful group, nor one compartment of the portraitures which are feigned to be sculptured or painted on the SHIELD OF WAR, indented with gashes deepe and wide.
And, first, within the porch and jaws of hell
Her eyes unstedfast, rolling here and there,
Tost and tormented with the tedious thought
Next, saw we DREAD, all trembling how he shook,