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The noble prince amoved, takes ruthe upon
I have a suspicion, that these two pieces in blank-verse, if not fragments of larger works, were finished in their present state, as prolusions, or illustrative practical specimens, for our author's course of lectures in rhetoric. In that case, they were written so early as the year 1547. There is positive proof, that they appeared not later than 1557, when they were first printed by Tottell.
I have already mentioned lord Surrey's Virgil; and for the sake of juxtaposition, will here produce a third specimen* of early blank-verse, little known. In the year 1590, William Vallans published a blankverse poem, entitled, A TALE OF two Swannes, which, under a poetic fiction, describes the situation and antiquities of several towns in Hertfordshire. The author, a native or inhabitant of Hertfordshire, seems to have been connected with Camden and other ingenious antiquaries of his age. I cite the exordium.
When Nature, nurse of every living thing,
With sweetest note to singe their nurse's praise.
Vallans is probably the author of a piece much better known, a history, by many held to be a romance, but which proves the writer a diligent searcher into antient records, entitled, "The HONOURABLE PRENTICE, shewed in the Life and Death of Sir JOHN HAWKEWOOD sometime Prentice of London, interlaced with the famous History of the noble FITZWALTER Lord of Woodham in Essex, and of the poisoning of his faire daughter. Also of the merry Customes of DUNMOwe, &c. Whereunto is annexed the most lamentable murther of Robert Hall at the High Altar in Westminster Abbey"."
The reader will observe, that what has been here said about early specimens of blank-verse, is to be restrained to poems not written for the stage. Long before Vallans's Two SWANNES, many theatrical pieces in blank-verse had appeared; the first of which is, The TRAGEDY OF GORBODUC, written in 1561. The second is George Gascoigne's JoCASTA, a tragedy, acted at Gray's-inn, in 1566. George Peele had also published his tragedy in blank-verse of DAVID AND BETHSABE, about the year 1579h. HIERONYMO, a tragedy also without rhyme, was acted before 1590. But this point, which is here only transiently mentioned, will be more fully considered hereafter, in its proper place. We will now return to our author Grimoald.
Grimoald, as a writer of verses in rhyme, yields to none of his cotemporaries, for a masterly choice of chaste expression, and the concise elegancies of didactic versification. Some of the couplets, in his poem IN PRAISE OF MODERATION, have all the smartness which marks the modern style of sententious poetry, and would have done honour to Pope's ethic epistles.
The auncient Time commended not for nought
The Mean. What better thyng can there be sought?
In meane is vertue placed: on either side,
Both right and left, amisse a man shall slide.
shire then existing, belonging to the queen and the nobility. See Hearne's Lel. Itin. V. Pr. p. iv. seq. ed. 2.
f The founder of Dunmow priory, afterwards mentioned, in the reign of Henry the Third.
There are two old editions, at London, in 1615, and 1616, both for Henry Gosson, in 5 sh. 4to. They have only the
author's initials W. V.
See Hearne, ut modo supr. iii. p. v. ii. p. xvi.
Shakspeare did not begin writing for the stage till 1591; Jonson about 1598. i Icarus, with thy father.
1 that which.
How could August" so many yeres well passe?
By overmuch the sick their bane have got.
The maxim is enforced with great quickness and variety of illustration: nor is the collision of opposite thoughts, which the subject so naturally affords, extravagantly pursued, or indulged beyond the bounds of good sense and propriety. The following stanzas on the NINE MUSES are more poetical, and not less correct.
Imps of king JOVE and quene REMEMBRANCE, lo,
Whose wordes whole routes of rankes do rule in place.
Uranie, her globes to view all bent,
The ninefold heaven observes with fixed face.
The blastes Euterpe tunes of instrument,
With solace sweete, hence my heavie dumps to chase.
To lead them forth, that men in maze they fall.
It would be unpardonable to dismiss this valuable miscellany, without acknowledging our obligations to its original editor Richard Tottell, who deserves highly of English literature, for having collected at a critical period, and preserved in a printed volume, so many admirable specimens of antient genius, which would have mouldered in manuscript, or perhaps from their detached and fugitive state of existence, their want of length, the capriciousness of taste, the general depredations of time, inattention, and other accidents, would never have reached the present age. It seems to have given birth to two favorite and celebrated collections* of the same kind, THe Paradise OF DAINTY DEVISES, and ENGLAND'S HELICON, which appeared in the reign of queen Elisabeth".
Andrew Borde. Bale. Ansley.
Chertsey. Fabyll's Ghost, a poem. The Merry Devil of Edmonton. Other minor Poets of the Reign of Henry the Eighth.
Ir will not be supposed, that all the poets of the reign of Henry the Eighth were educated in the school of Petrarch. The graces of the Italian muse, which had been taught by Surrey and Wyat, were confined to a few. Nor were the beauties of the classics yet become general objects of imitation. There are many writers of this period who still rhymed on, in the old prosaic track of their immediate predecessors, and never ventured to deviate into the modern improvements. The strain of romantic fiction was lost; in the place of which, they did not substitute the elegancies newly introduced.
I shall consider together, yet without an exact observation of chronological order, the poets of the reign of Henry the Eighth who form this subordinate class, and who do not bear any mark of the character of the poetry which distinguishes this period. Yet some of these have
*[Quere whether these collections were not more immediately derived from "A gorgeous Gallery of gallant Inventions," &c. and the "Phoenix Nest," both reprinted in Heliconia, vol. i.—PARK.]
"The reader will observe, that I have followed the paging and arrangement of Tottell's second edition in 1565. 12mo. In his edition of 1557, there is much confusion. A poem is there given to Grimoald, on the death of lady Margaret Lee, in 1555. Also among Grimoald's is a poem on sir James Wilford, mentioned above,
who appears to have fought under Henry the Eighth in the wars of France and Scotland. This edition of 1557, is not in quarto, as I have called it by an oversight, but in small duodecimo, and only with signatures. It is not mentioned by Ames, and I have seen it only among Tanner's printed books at Oxford. It has this colophon "Imprinted at London in Flete Strete within Temple barre, at the sygne of the hand and starre by Richard Tottel, the fifte day of June. An. 1557. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum.”
their degree of merit; and, if they had not necessarily claimed a place in our series, deserve examination.
Andrew Borde, who writes himself ANDREAS PERFORATUS, with about as much propriety and as little pedantry as Buchanan calls one Wisehart SоPHOCARDIUS, was educated at Winchester and Oxford"; and is said, I believe on very slender proof, to have been physician to king Henry the Eighth. His BREVIARY OF HEALTH, first printed in 1547, is dedicated to the college of physicians, into which he had been incorporated. The first book of this treatise is said to have been examined and approved by the University of Oxford in 1546°. He chiefly practised in Hampshire; and being popishly affected, was censured by Poynet, a Calvinistic bishop of Winchester, for keeping three prostitutes in his house, which he proved to be his patients. He appears to have been a man of great superstition, and of a weak and whimsical head: and having been once a Carthusian, continued ever afterwards to profess celibacy, to drink water, and to wear a shirt of hair. His thirst of knowledge, dislike of the reformation, or rather his unsettled disposition, led him abroad into various parts of Europe, which he visited in the medical character*. Wood says, that he was "esteemed a noted poet, a witty and ingenious person, and an excellent physician." Hearne, who has plainly discovered the origin of Tom Thumb, is of opinion, that this facetious practitioner in physic gave rise to the name of MERRY ANDREW, the Fool on the mountebank's stage. The reader will not perhaps be displeased to see that antiquary's reasons for this conjecture; which are at the same time a vindication of Borde's character, afford some new anecdotes of his life, and show that a Merry Andrew may be a scholar and an ingenious man. "It is observable, that the author [Borde] was as fond of the word DOLENTYD, as of many other hard and uncooth words, as any Quack can be. He begins his BREVIARY OF HEALTH, Egregious doctours and Maysters of the eximious and archane science of Physicke, of your urbanite exasperate not your selve, &c. But notwithstanding this, will any one from hence infer or assert, that the author was either a pedant or a superficial scholar? I think, upon due consideration, he
a See his Introduction to Knowledge, ut infr. cap. xxxv.
b "Compyled by Andrewe Boorde of Physicke Doctoure an Englysshe man.' It was reprinted by William Powell in 1552, and again in 1557. There was an impression by T. East, 1587, 4to. others, also in 1548, and 1575, which I have never seen. The latest is by East in 1598, 4to. [This seems to have been printed, says Herbert, before 1547, by William Mydilton, in 12mo, because therein he mentions his Introduction to Knowledge, as at that time printing at old Rob. Copland's. But the dedication of
that to the princess Mary is dated 3 May 1542, and may be supposed to have been printed soon after, though indeed it has no date of printing. It was printed by Wm. Copland. See Bibl. West. No. 1643. -PARK.]
At the end of which is this note :"Here endeth the first boke Examined in Oxforde in the yere of our Lorde MCCCCCXLVI," &c.
4 See Against Martin, &c. p. 48.
["I have gone round Christendome and overthwart Christendome," says Borde in his Dietarie of Health.-PARK.]