« PreviousContinue »
of queen Elizabeth, as I am informed from some curious manuscript authorities, a thin quarto in the black letter was published, with this title, "The MIRROUR OF MIRROVRS, or all the tragedys of the Mirrovr for Magistrates abbreuiated in breefe histories in prose. Very necessary for those that haue not the Cronicle. London, imprinted for James Roberts in Barbican, 15981." This was an attempt to familiarise and illustrate this favourite series of historic soliloquies; or a plan to present its subjects, which were now become universally popular in rhyme, in the dress of prose.
It is reasonable to suppose, that the publication of the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES enriched the stores, and extended the limits, of our drama. These lives are so many tragical speeches in character. We have seen, that they suggested scenes to Shakspeare. Some critics imagine, that HISTORICAL Plays owed their origin to this collection. At least it is certain that the writers of this MIRROUR were the first who made a poetical use of the English chronicles recently compiled by Fabyan, Hall, and Hollinshed, which opened a new field of subjects and events;
Christopher Marlowe. Jarvis Markham. John Marston. Christopher Middleton. Thomas Nashe. [Vere.] Earl of Oxford. George Peele. Matthew Raydon. Master Sackvile. William Shakspeare. Sir Philip Sidney. Edmund Spenser. Thomas Storer. [H. Howard] Earl of Surrey. Joshua Sylvester. George Turberville. William Warner. Thomas Watson. John and William Weever. Sir Thomas Wyat. I suspect that Wood, by mistake, has attributed this collection by Allot, to Charles Fitz-jeffrey above mentioned, a poet before and after 1600, and author of the Affania. But I will quote Wood's words: "Fitzjeffrey hath also made, as tis said, A Collection of choice Flowers and Descriptions, as well out of his, as the works of several others the most renowned poets of our nation, collected about the beginning of the reign of King James I. But this tho I have been years seeking after, yet I cannot get a sight of it." Ath. Oxon. i. 606. But the most comprehensive and exact Common-place of the works of our most eminent poets throughout the reign of queen Elizabeth, and afterwards, was published about forty years ago, by Mr. Thomas Hayward of Hungerford in Berkshire, viz. "The British Muse, A Collection of Thoughts, Moral, Natural, and Sublime, of our English Poets, who flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth Centuries. With several curious Topicks, and beautiful Passages, never before extracted, from Shakspeare, Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, and above a Hundred more. The whole digested alphabetically, &c. In three volumes. London, Printed for F. Cogan, &c. 1738." 12mo. The Preface, of twenty
pages, was written by Mr. William Oldys, with the supervisal and corrections of his friend doctor Campbell. This anecdote I learn from a manuscript insertion by Oldys in my copy of Allot's England's Parnassus, above mentioned, which once belonged to Oldys.
[Hayward's British Muse was in 1740 entitled "The Quintessence of English Poetry," and the name of Mr. Oldys was added as author of the Preface. Other collections of a similar kind had been previously published by Poole, Bysshe and Gildon. Edward Phillips had previously attributed England's Parnassus to Fitzgeoffry, and seems to have been followed implicitly by Wood. See Theatr. Poetr. 1675. p. 219.-PARK.]
1 From manuscripts of Mr. Coxeter, of Trinity-college Oxford, lately in the hands of Mr. Wise, Radclivian Librarian at Oxford, containing extracts from the copyrights of our old printers, and registers of the Stationers, with several other curious notices of that kind. Ames had many of Coxeter's papers. He died in London April 19, 1747 [of a fever, which grew from a cold he caught at an auction of books over Exeter Change, or by sitting up late at the tavern afterwards. See Oldys's MS. notes on Langbaine in the British Museum, p. 353. Coxeter was the original editor of Dodsley's old Plays, and an early writer in the Biographia Britannica. Ames makes an acknowledgement to him for many hints in his Typographical Antiquities. A daughter of his, advanced in years, received pecuniary assistance from the Literary Fund in 1791, 1793 and 1797.-PARK.]
and, I may add, produced a great revolution in the state of popular knowledge. For before those elaborate and voluminous compilations appeared, the History of England, which had been shut up in the Latin narratives of the monkish annalists, was unfamiliar and almost unknown to the general reader*.
[Among the historical poems which seem to have been written in imitation of those entitled "The Mirrour for Magistrates," perhaps with an intention of being engrafted on the popular stock of Baldwin and Higgins, must be noticed the "Legend of Mary Queen of Scots," first published from an original MS. by Mr. Fry of Kingsdown near Bristol in 1810, and attributed by its editor to the pen of Thomas Wenman in 1601; a writer, of whom nothing material has since been added to the short account of Wood, which describes him as an excellent scholar', who took his degree of M.A. in 1590, was afterwards Fellow of Baliol College, and public orator of the University of Oxford in 1594. The editor claims for this historic legend a higher rank than what Mr. Warton has assigned to the generality of the rhyming chronicles contained in the Mirror for Magistrates: but I rather doubt whether our poetical historian would have ratified the claim; since it appears to run singularly parallel in its construction, in its rhythmical cadence and versification, to the greater portion of the pieces in that once popular collection. Pr.-Baldwyn awake, thie penn hath slept to longe;
Ferris is dead; state cares staie Sackvill's ease;
Theise latter witts delighte in pleasaunt songe
Or lovinge sayes, which maie theire masters please;
My ruthfull state breeds no remorse in theise:
For as my liffe was still opreste by fate, So after deathe my name semes out of date.
6. Wm. Wyrley's Life and Death of sir Jno. de Grathy. 1572. (See Cens. Lit. i. 148.)
7. Rd. Johnson's Nine Worthies of London, &c. 1592. (See Harl. Misc.)
8. Tho. Churchyard's Tragedie of the Earl of Morton and sir Simon Burley, (in his Challenge,) 1593. Storer's Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey. 1599.
9. Ch. Middleton's Legend of Duke Humphrey, 1600. (See Cens. Lit. iii. 256.)
10. Tho. Sampson's Fortune's Fashion, pourtrayed in the troubles of the Ladie Elizabeth Gray. 1613.
11. Mich. Drayton's Legend of Rob. D. of Normandy. 1596.
12. Mich. Drayton's Legend of Matilda.
13. Mich. Drayton's Legend of Percie Gaveston.
14. Mich. Drayton's Legend of Great Cromwell.
In the Poetical Works2 of William Browne, 1772, there is a reprint of Verses by him prefixed to "Richard the Third, his character, legend and tragedy," a poem in quarto with the date of 1614. This poem I do not recollect to have seen, but its title makes it presumable to have been of Baldwin's class. Daniel's Complaint of Rosamond first printed in 1592, may be numbered in the same class;, and so may Niccols's Vision of Sir Thomas Overbury, &c. published in 1616.
Another of these imitative histories in verse, which from its extreme rarity was not likely to fall under the observation of Mr. Fry, is entitled "Beawtie dishonoured, written under the title of Shore's Wife," printed at London by John Wolfe in 1593, 4to. It contains 197 six-line stanzas, and is inscribed to sir Edward Winckfield knight, by his "worship's most bounden, A. C." that is, A. Chute or Chewt, who speaks of it as an infant labour, and the "first invention of his beginning Muse." As the poem is upon the whole inferior to that of Churchyard on the same subject, which had been published a few years before, it seems rather strange that Chute should have tried his juvenile strength against that of the veteran bard, who published his "Tragedie" in the same year, with 21 additional stanzas, "in as fine a forme as the first impres
vol. iii. p. 162.
Yet cannot this redeeme thy spotted name, Nor interdict thy body of her shame.
sion thereof," and with a soldier-like protestation, that the production was entirely his own, though some malignant had denied him the credit of producing it. Chute did not in his rival effort adopt the seven-line stanza of Churchyard, but many passages bear such partial resemblance, as a choice of the same personal history was likely to induce. A late reprint of the Mirror for Magistrates will give to many an opportunity of perusing Churchyard's work; but as that of Chute remains in an unique copy, I proceed to extract a few of the best stanzas. The ghost of Shore's Wife is made to narrate her own story, on the plan of Baldwin's heroes and heroines. The following lines express her compunction for having yielded to the criminal passion of Edward IV.
Who sees the chast liv'd turtle on a tree In unfrequented groves sit and complaine her; Whether alone all desolate, poore shee, And for her lost love seemeth to restraine her;
And there, sad thoughted, howleth to the ayre
The excellencie of her lost-mate's fayre1: So I, when sinne had drown'd my soule in badnesse,
To solitarie muse my selfe retired, Where wrought by greefe to discontented sadnesse,
Repentant thoughts my new won shame admired;
And I, the monster of myne owne misfortune,
My hart with grones and sorrow did importune.
She proceeds to lament that posterity will consign her memory to defamation. Thus in thy life, thus in thy death, and boath
Dishonor'd by thy fact, what mayst thou doe?
Though now thy soule the touch of sinne doth loath, And thou abhorst thy life, and thy selfe too:
But he that could command thee, made thee sin :
Yet that is no priviledge, no sheeld to thee.
Now thou thyselfe hast drownd thyselfe therein,
Thou art defam'd thyselfe, and so is hee: And though that kings commands have wonders wrought,
Yet kings commands could never hinder thought.
Say that a monarke may dispence with sin; The vulgar toung proveth impartiall still, And when mislike all froward shall begin,
The worst of bad, and best of worst to ill, A secret shame in every thought will smother,
For sinne is sinne in kinges, as well as other.
O could my wordes expresse in mourning sound
The ready passion that my mynde doth trye,
Then greefe all cares, all sences would confound,
And some would weepe with me, as well as I;
Where now, because my wordes cannot reveale it,
I weepe alone, inforced to conceale it. Had I bin fayre, and not allur'd so soone,
To that at which all thoughtes levell their sadnesse,
My sunbright day had not bin set ere noone,
Nor I bin noted for detected badnesse: But this is still peculiar to our state, To sinne too soone and then repent too
The moral reflections of Chute will be found more meritorious than his poetic garniture, and this is a distinction of personal honour to the author; since, as Cowper cogently asks, "What is the poet, if the man be naught?"-PARK.]
Richard Edwards. Principal poet, player, musician, and buffoon, to the courts of Mary and Elizabeth. Anecdotes of his life. Cotemporary testimonies of his merit. A contributor to the Paradise of Daintie Devises. His book of comic histories, supposed to have suggested Shakspeare's Induction of the Tinker. Occasional anecdotes of Antony Munday and Henry Chettle. Edwards's songs.
IN tracing the gradual accessions of the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES, an incidental departure from the general line of our chronologic series has been incurred. But such an anticipation was unavoidable, in order to exhibit a full and uninterrupted view of that poem, which originated in the reign of Mary, and was not finally completed till the beginning of the seventeenth century. I now therefore return to the reign of queen Mary.
To this reign I assign Richard Edwards, a native of Somersetshire, about the year 1523. He is said by Wood to have been a scholar of Corpus Christi college in Oxford; but in his early years he was enployed in some department about the court. This circumstance appears from one of his poems in the PARADISE OF DAINTIE DEVISES, a miscellany which contains many of his pieces.
In youthfull yeares when first my young desires began
To pricke me forth to serve in court, a slender tall young man,
Who blessing me with trembling hand, these wordes gan say to me,
In the year 1547, he was appointed a senior student of Christ-church in Oxford, then newly founded. In the British Museum there is a small set of manuscript sonnets signed with his initials, addressed to some of the beauties of the courts of queen Mary, and of queen Elizabeth". Hence we may conjecture that he did not long remain at the university. About this time he was probably a member of Lincoln's-inn. In the year 1561, he was constituted a gentleman of the royal chapel by queen Elizabeth, and master of the singing boys there. He had received his musical education, while at Oxford, under George Etheridge.
a Edit. 1585. 4to. Carm. 7.
b MSS. Cotton. Tit. A. xxiv. "To some court Ladies."-Pr. "Howarde is not hawghte," &c.
[This MS. appears to be the fragment of a collection of original poetry, by different writers. In Ayscough's Catalogue, it is described as " Sonnets by R. E." but no sonnet occurs among the several pieces, and only four out of fourteen are signed R. E. The rest bear the signatures of Norton (the dramatic associate probably of Lord Buckhurst), Surre (i.e. Surrey), Va.
Pig, and six are unsignatured. That quoted by Mr. Warton may be seen at length in Nug. Antiq. ii. 392. Another by Edwards is printed in Mr. Ellis's Specimens, vol. ii. and Norton's is also there inserted.-PARK.] George Etheridge, born at Thame in Oxfordshire, was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi college Oxford, under the tuition of the learned John Shepreve, in 1534. Fellow, in 1539. In 1553, he was made royal professor of Greek at Oxford. In 1556, he was recommended by lord Williams of Thame, to sir Thomas Pope founder
When queen Elizabeth visited Oxford in 1566, she was attended by Edwards, who was on this occasion employed to compose a play called PALAMON AND ARCITE, which was acted before her majesty in Christchurch halld. I believe it was never printed. Another of his plays is DAMON AND PYTHIAS, which was acted at court. It is a mistake, that the first edition of this play is the same that is among Mr. Garrick's collection printed by Richard Johnes, and dated 1571. The first edition* was printed by William Howe in Fleet-street, in 1570, with this title, "The tragical comedie of DAMON AND PITHIAS, newly imprinted as the same was playde before the queenes maiestie by the children of her graces chapple. Made by Mayster Edward then being master of the children." There is some degree of low humour in the dialogues between Grimme the collier and the two lacquies, which I presume was highly pleasing to the queen. He probably wrote many other dramatic pieces now lost. Puttenham having mentioned lord Buckhurst and Master Edward Ferrys, or Ferrers, as most eminent in tragedy, gives the prize to Edwards for Comedy and Interludes. The word Interlude is here of wide extent. For Edwards, besides that he was a writer of regular dramas, appears to have been a contriver of masques, and a composer of poetry for pageants. In a word, he united all those arts and accomplishments which minister to popular pleasantry: he was the first fiddle, the most fashionable sonnetteer, the readiest rhymer, and the most facetious mimic, of the court. In consequence of his love and his knowledge of the histrionic art, he taught the choristers over which he presided to act plays; and they were formed into a company of players, like those of St. Paul's cathedral, by the queen's licence, under the superintendency of Edwards.
of Trinity college in Oxford, to be admitted a fellowof his college at its first foundation; but Etheridge choosing to pursue the medical line, that scheme did not take effect. He was persecuted for popery by queen Elizabeth at her accession; but afterwards practised physic at Oxford with much reputation, and established a private seminary there for the instruction of catholic youths in the classics, music, and logic. Notwithstanding his active perseverance in the papistic persuasion, he presented to the queen, when she visited Oxford in 1566, an Encomium in Greek verse on her father Henry, now in the British Museum, MSS. Bibl. Reg. 16 C. x. He prefixed a not inelegant preface in Latin verse to his tutor Shepreve's Hyppolytus, an Answer to Ovid's Phædra, which he published in 1584. Pits his cotemporary says, "He was an able mathematician, and one of the most excellent vocal and instrumental musicians in England, but he chiefly delighted in the lute and lyre. A most elegant poet, and a most exact composer of English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew verses, which he used to set to his harp with the greatest skill." Angl. Script. p. 784. Paris.
1619. Pits adds, that he translated seve-
[Vid. infra, p. 241. note *.]
6 Arte of English Poetry, fol. 51.