Page images
[ocr errors]

undertaken for the instruction of posterity. Mr. Warton thinks he sees in the writers of this reign " a certain dignified inattention to niceties," and to this he attributes the “ flowing modulation which

now marked the measures of our poets :" but there seems to bę neither dignity nor inattention in deviating from rules which had never been laid down; and the modulation which he ascribes to this cause, is not less likely to have resulted from the musical studies, which at this time formed a part of general education. The lyrical compositions of this time, are so far from being usually marked with a faulty negligence, that excess of ornament, and laboured affectation, are their characteristic blemishes. Such as are free from conceit and antithesis are, in general, exquisitely polished, and may safely be compared with the most elegant and finished specimens of modern poetry.


[ocr errors]

“ I find none example in English metre so well maintaining

“ this figure (the Exargasia or the Gorgeous) as that ditty of “ her Majesty's own making, passing sweet and harmoni“ cal. And this was the reason : our sovereign Lady,

perceiving how by the Scotch queen's residence within “ this realm, with so great liberty and case as were scarce

meet for so great and dangerous a prisoner, bred secret “ factions among her people, and made many of the nobi“lity incline to favour her party: to declare that she was “ nothing ignorant of those secret practises, though she “had long with great wisdom and patience, dissembled it, “ writeth this ditty, most sweet and sententious," &c. Puttenham, Art of Poesy, 1589, p. 207.


The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy, And wit me warns to shew such snares as threaten

mine annoy.

For falsehood now doth flow, and subject faith

doth ebb; Which would not be if reason ruled, or wisdom But clouds of toys untried do cloak aspiring minds, Which turn to rain of late repent, by course of

weav'd the web.

changed winds. The top of hope supposed, the root of ruth will be, And fruitless all their graffed guiles, as shortly ye

shall see. Then dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition

blinds, Shall be unseald by worthy wights, whose foresight

falsehood finds. The daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sow, Shall reap no gain where former rule hath taught

still peace to grow. No foreign banish'd wight shall anchor in this port, Our realm it brooks no strangers' force, let them

elsewhere resort. Our rusty sword with rest, shall first his edge

employ, To pull their tops that seek such change, and gape

for joy.


Published" the Arte of English Poesie,” contrived into three

books, 1589. This writer has given us many specimens of his own poetry, with a view of exemplifying the rules he inculcates. The following short ditty is perhaps the best that can be selected as an example of his talents.

Cruel you be, who can say nay;

Since you delight in other's woe:
Unwise am I, ye may well say,

For that I have honour'd you so:
But blameless I, who could not chuse

To be enchanted by your eye:
But ye to blame, thus to refuse

My service, and to let me die.

Puttenham speaks of himself as having been a scholar in Oxford; though whether he was bred there, Wood says he could not tell. He recites an anecdote which he remembered in the first year of Queen Mary's reign, and he quotes a passage fiom an eclogue entitled “ Elpine," which he made at the age of 18, addressed to King Edward VI. This places the date of his birth before 1535. He was author of two interludes, “ Lustie London,” and “ The Won," and a copious composer of Triumphals, &c. in honour of Queen Elizabeth; to whom he was a gentleman pensioner. His “ Arte of Poesie” is recommended by Bolton, in his Hypercritica, as EARL OF OXFORD.

elegant, witty, and artificial.”

Edward Vere, the seventeenth earl of Oxford, succeeded his

father in his title and honours in 1562, and died an old man in 1604. It is therefore probable that he was not born later

than 1534. His poetical talents were much admired, or at least much

extolled, by his comtemporaries : and such of his sonnets as are preserved in the Paradise of Dainty Devices are certainly not among the worst, although they are by no means the best, in that collection. One only (the Judgement of Desire) can be said to rise a little above mediocrity,


[From lord Oxford's works, Vol. I. p. 329.] When I was fair and young, then favour graced


Of many was I sought their mistress for to be;
But I did scorn them all, and answer'd them there-

fore, Go, go, go! seek some other-where, importune me

no more!

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe, How many sighing hearts, I have not skill to show.

« PreviousContinue »