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THE first poem which presents itself at the commencement of the reign of queen Elisabeth, is the play of GORBODUC, written by Thomas Sackville lord Buckhurst, the original contriver of the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES. Thomas Norton, already mentioned as an associate with Sternhold and Hopkins in the metrical version of David's Psalms, is said to have been his coadjutorb.

It is no part of my plan, accurately to mark the progress of our drama, much less to examine the merit of particular plays. But as this piece is perhaps the first specimen in our language of an heroic tale, written in blank verse, divided into acts and

It is scarcely worth observing, that one Thomas Brice, at the accession of Elisabeth, printed in English metre a Register of the Martyrs and Confessors under queen Mary, Lond. for R. Adams, 1559, 8vo. I know not how far Fox might profit by this work. I think he has not mentioned it. In the Stationers registers, in 1567, were entered to Henry Binneman, SONGES and SONNETTS by Thomas Brice. REGISTR. A. fol. 164. a. I have never seen the book. In 1570, an elegy, called “ An epitaph on Mr. Bryce preacher" oceurs, licenced to John Alde. Ibid. fol. 205. b. Again, we have the COURT OF VENUS, I suppose a ballad, MORALISED, in 1566, by Thomas Bryce, for Hugh Singleton. Ibid. fol. 156. a. [Brice, at the end of his Metrical "Register" has a poem of the ballad kind, which he calls "The Wishes of the Wise."

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It begins:

When shal this time of travail cease,
Which we with wo sustayne?
When shal the daies of rest and peace
Returne to us againe?

Before his Register he expresses an earnest wish and desire, that "the authour and endightynge were halfe so worthye as the matter, that it myght bee conveyed and delyvered to the Quenes Majesties owne handes."-PARK.]

See supr. vol. iii. p. 453. See Preface to GORBODUC, edit. 1571. Strype says, that Thomas Norton was a clergyman, a puritan, a man of parts and learning, well known to secretary Cecil and archbishop Parker, and that he was suspected, but without foundation, of writing an answer to Whitgift's book against the puritans, published in 1572. LIFE OF PARKER, p. 364. LIFE OF WHITGIFT, p. 28. I forgot to mention before, that Norton has a copy of recommendatory verses prefixed to Turner's PRESERVATIVE, a tract against the Pelagians, dedicated to Hugh Latimer, printed Lond. 1551. 12mo. In the Conferences in the Tower with Campion the Jesuit, in 1581, one Norton, but not our author, seems to have been employed as a notary. See "A TRUE REPORTE OF THE DISPUTATION," &c. Lond. 1583. Bl. lett. 4to. SIGNAT. A a. iij.

scenes, and cloathed in all the formalities of a regular tragedy, it seems justly to deserve a more minute and a distinct discussion in this general view of our poetry.

It was first exhibited in the great Hall of the Inner Temple, by the students of that Society, as part of the entertainment of a grand Christmas*, and afterwards before queen Elisabeth at Whitehall, on the eighteenth day of January in 1561. It was never intended for the press. But being surreptitiously and very carelessly printed in 1565, an exact edition, with the consent and under the inspection of the authors, appeared in 1571, in black letter, thus entitled. "The TRAGIDIE OF FERREX AND PORREX, set forth without addition or alteration, but altogether as the same was showed on stage before the queenes Majestie about nine yeare past, viz. The xviij day of Januarie, 1561. By the gentlemen of the Inner Temple. Seen and allowed, &c. Imprinted at London by John Daye dwelling ouer Aldersgate." It has no date, nor notation of pages, and contains only thirty-one leaves in small octavo. In the edition of 1565, it is called the TRAGEDIE OF GORBODUC. The whole title of that edition runs thus. "The Tragedie of GORBODUC, whereof three actes were wrytten by Thomas Nortone and the two laste by Thomas Sackvyle. Sett forthe as the same was shewed before the queenes most excellent maiestie in her highnes court of Whitehall, the 18 Jan. 1561. By the gentlemen of thynner Temple in London. Sept. 22, 1565." Printed by William Griffith at the sign of the falcon in Fleet-street, in quartoa. I have a most incorrect black lettered copy in duo

[* See a description of the magnificent celebration of that festival in Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales, p. 150.-PARK.]

For the benefit of those who wish to gain a full and exact information about this edition, so as to distinguish it from all the rest, I will here exhibit the arrangement of the lines of the title-page. "The Tragidie of Ferrex | and Porrex,

set forth without addition or alte- | ration but altogether as the same was shewed on stage before the queenes maiestie, about nine yeares past, vz. the xviij daie of Januarie. 1561. by

the Gentlemen of the | Inner Temple. | Seen and allowed &c. | Imprinted at London by John Daye, dwelling ouer Aldersgate." With the Bodleian copy of this edition, are bound up four pamphlets against the papists by Thomas Norton.

d On the books of the Stationers, "The Tragedie of GORBODUC where iij actes were written by Thomas Norton and the laste by Thomas Sackvyle," is ertered in 1565-6, with William Griffiths. REGISTR. A. fol. 132. b.

decimo, without title, but with the printer's monogram in the last page, I suspect of 1569, which once belonged to Pope, and from which the late Mr. Spence most faithfully printed a modern edition of the tragedy, in the year 1736. I believe it was printed before that of 1571, for it retains all the errors of Griffith's first or spurious edition of 1565. In the Preface prefixed to the edition of 1571, is the following passage. "Where [whereas] this tragedy was for furniture of part of the grand Christmasse in the Inner-temple, first written about nine years ago by the right honourable Thomas now lord Buckhurst, and by T. Norton; and afterwards showed before her maiestie, and neuer intended by the authors thereof to be published: Yet one W. G. getting a copie thereof at some young mans hand, that lacked a little money and much discretion, in the last great plague anno 1565, about fiue yeares past, while the said lord was out of England, and T. Norton far out of London, and neither of them both made priuy, put it forth exceedingly corrupted," &c. W. G. is William Griffith, the printer in Fleetstreet, above mentioned. Mr. Garrick had another old quarto edition, printed by Alde, in 1590.

These are the circumstances of the fable of this tragedy. Gorboduc, a king of Britain about six hundred years before Christ, made in his life-time a division of his kingdom to his sons Ferrex and Porrex. The two young princes within five years quarrelled for universal sovereignty. A civil war ensued, and Porrex slew his elder brother Ferrex. Their mother Viden, who loved Ferrex best, revenged his death by entering Porrex's chamber in the night, and murthering him in his sleep. The people, exasperated at the cruelty and treachery of this murther, rose in rebellion, and killed both Viden and Gorboduc. The nobility then assembled, collected an army, and destroyed the rebels. An intestine war commenced between the chief lords:

e In the year 1717, my father, then a fellow of Magdalene college at Oxford, gave this copy to Mr. Pope, as appears by a letter of Pope to R. Digby, dat. Jun. 2, 1717. See Pope's LETTERS, Vol.

ix. p 39. edit. 12mo. 1754. "Mr. Warton forced me to take Gorboduc," &c. Pope gave it to the late bishop Warburton, who gave it to me about ten years ago, 1770.

the succession of the crown became uncertain and arbitrary, for want of the lineal royal issue: and the country, destitute of a king, and wasted by domestic slaughter, was reduced to a state of the most miserable desolation.

In the dramatic conduct of this tale, the unities of time and place are eminently and visibly violated: a defect which Shakespeare so frequently commits, but which he covers by the magic of his poetry. The greater part of this long and eventful history is included in the representation. But in a story so fertile of bloodshed, no murther is committed on the stage. It is worthy of remark, that the death of Porrex in the bed-chamber is only related. Perhaps the players had not yet learned to die, nor was the ponyard so essential an article as at present among the implements of the property-room. Nor is it improbable, that to kill a man on the stage was not now avoided as a spectacle shocking to humanity, but because it was difficult and inconvenient to be represented. The writer has followed the series of facts related in the chronicles without any material variation, or fictitious embarrassments, and with the addition only of a few necessary and obvious characters.

There is a Chorus of Four Antient and Sage Men of Britain, who regularly close every Act, the last excepted, with an ode in long-lined stanzas, drawing back the attention of the audience to the substance of what has just passed, and illustrating it by recapitulatory moral reflections, and poetical or historical allusions. Of these the best is that which terminates the fourth Act, in which prince Porrex is murthered by his mother Viden. These are the two first stanzas.

When greedie lust in royall seat to reigne,
Hath reft all care of goddes, and eke of men,
And Cruell Heart, Wrath, Treason, and Disdaine,
Within th' ambicious breast are lodged, then
Behold howe MISCHIEFE wide herselfe displaies,
And with the brothers hand the brother slaies!

When blood thus shed doth staine the heauens face,
Crying to Joue for vengeaunce of the deede,

The mightie god euen moueth from his place,
With wrath to wreak. Then sendes he forth with spede
The dreadful Furies, daughters of the night,

With serpents girt, carrying the whip of ire,
With haire of stinging snakes, and shining bright
With flames and blood, and with a brande of fire.
These for reuenge of wretched murder done
Do make the mother kill her onelie son!

Blood asketh blood, and death must death requite:
Joue, by his iust and euerlasting doom,

Justly hath euer so required it, &c.

In the imagery of these verses, we discern no faint traces of the hand which drew the terrible guardians of hell-gate, in the INDUCTION to the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES.

The moral beauties and the spirit of the following ode, which closes the third act, will perhaps be more pleasing to many readers.

The lust of kingdom3 knowes no sacred faithe,
No rule of reason, no regarde of right,
No kindlie loue, no feare of heauens wrathe:
But with contempt of goddes, and man's despight,
Through blodie slaughter doth prepare the waies
To fatall scepter, and accursed reigne:

The sonne so lothes the fathers lingerynge daies,
Ne dreads his hande in brothers blode to staine!

O wretched prince! ne dost thou yet recorde
The yet fressh murthers done within the lande,
Of thie forefathers, when the cruell sworde
Bereft Morgain his liefe with cosyn's hande?

Act iv. Sc. ult.

kingdoms,' edit. 1565

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