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THE ENGLISH POETS 

T. H. WARD. 
VOL. I. 

EARLY POETRY: 

CHAUCER TO DONNE. 



VOL. L 



THE 

ENGLISH POETS 

SELECTIONS 

WITH CRITICAL INTRODUCTIONS 

BY VARIOUS WRITERS 

AND A GENERAL INTRODUCTION BY 

MATTHEW ARNOLD 

EDITED BY 



THOMAS HUMPHRY WARD, M.A. 

Late Fellow of Biasenose College, Oxford 



VOL. I 
CHAUCER to DONNE 



MACMILLAN AND CO. 
1880 

\_All rights resei-vsJI 



OXFORD: 

BY E. PICKARD HALL, M.A., AND J. H. STACY, 
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY. 









THE ENGLISH POETS 

T. H. WARD. 

EARLY POETRY: 

CHAUCER TO DONNE. 



/ . 



THE 

ENGLISH POETS 

SELECTIONS 

WITH CRITICAL INTRODUCTIONS 

BY VARIOUS WRITERS 

AND A GENERAL INTRODUCTION BY 

MATTHEW ARNOLD 

EDITED BY 

THOMAS HUMPHRY WARD, M.A. 

Late Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford 

CHAUCEE, to DONNE 

MACMILLAN AND CO. 
1880 

\_All rights, reservsd] 



OXFORD: 

nV p.. PICKARD HALL, M.A., AND J. H. STACY, 
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY. 



PREFACE. 

The aim of this book is to supply an admitted want — that 
of an anthology which may adequately represent the vast and 
varied field of English Poetry. 

Nothing of the kind at present exists. There are great 
collections of tKe whole works of the poets, like that of 
Chalmers ; there are innumerable volumes of ' Beauties ' of 
a more or less unsatisfactory kind ; there are Selections from 
single poets ; there are a few admirable volumes, like that of 
Mr. Palgrave, which deal with special departments of our 
poetical literature. The only book which attempts to cover 
the whole ground and to select on a large scale is Campbell's; 
and Campbell's, though the work of a true poet and, according 
to the standard of his time, a critic of authority, can no 
longer be regarded as sufficient. It is indeed impossible that 
a selection of the kind should be really well done, should be 
done with an approach to finality, if it is the work of one critic 
alone. The history of English poetry is so wide, its various 
sections and stages have become the objects of so special a 
study, that a book which aims at selecting the best from the 
whole field and pronouncing its judgments with some degree 
of authority, must not be the work of one writer, but of many. 
It was on this plan that M. Crepet's excellent book, Les pocks 
/ran^ais, was constructed twenty years ago; and what he 
there did for French poetry we here wish to do for English 



VI PREFACE. 

poetry — to present a collection of what is best in it, chosen 
and judged by those whose tastes and studies specially qualify 
them for the several tasks they have undertaken. 

Our design has not been to present a complete collection 
of all that may fairly be called masterpieces — if it had been 
so, the volumes would of necessity have been three times as 
many as they are. Still less has it been to give a complete 
history of English poetry — if it had been so, many names that 
we have passed over would have been admitted. It has been, 
to collect as many of the best and most characteristic of their 
writings as should fully represent the great poets, and at the 
same time to omit no one who is poetically considerable. 
There are writers who were famous in their day and who 
played a great part in the history of English literature, but 
who have faded from public notice and are no longer gene- 
rally read; men like Sidney, and Cowley, and Waller. Again, 
there are writers who never were well known, but who wrote 
a few beautiful poems as it were by accident ; men like some 
of the minor Elizabethans, or Lovelace, or Christopher Smart. 
We have endeavoured to do justice to both these classes ; 
to gather from the former what may serve to explain why they 
were famous, and from the latter whatever they wrote that is of 
real poetical excellence. 

We have not included the writings of living poets, nor the 
drama, properly so called. Had we admitted the drama we 
should have been compelled to double our space; besides, in 
spite of Charles Lamb, we may venture to say that by the 
nature of the case a play lends itself to selection less than any 
other form of literature. But where a play is only a play in 
name, like Comus or the Gcnlle Shepherd, we have not excluded 
it ; and songs from the dramatists have of course been 
admitted. 



PREFACE. vii 

Two points seem to require a word of notice — the order and 
the orthography. The first is approximately chronological; 
for in this matter it was found impossible to follow any rigid 
rule. To go uniformly by the date, either of birth or pub- 
lication, would be in many cases misleading ; for we often find 
a poet not beginning to write till after the death of some 
younger contemporary, and oftener still we find his poems only 
posthumously collected. A vague floruit circa is the only date 
that is often possible in literary history. With regard to the 
orthography, the principle adopted has been, to print accord- 
ing to contemporary spelling up to the time of Wyatt and 
Surrey — the time ^of the Renascence — and since that date to 
adopt the uniform modern spelling. The exceptions that we 
have made are in the case of the Scotch poets (though with 
them it is a matter rather of language than of orthography), 
and of Spenser, who is so intentionally archaic that his spelling 
is peculiar, and is a part of himself. Spenser accordingly we 
have printed from Dr. INIorris's text. 

It remains for the Editor to express his cordial thanks to 
those who have so kindly co-operated with him ; and he may 
be permitted to mention specially the names of Professor Skeat, 
who has revised the whole of the text of the poets down to 
Douglas ; of Mr. Edmund W. Gosse, whose great knowledge 
of English poetry, especially of that of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, has been of the greatest service to the 
book ; and of Mr. Matthew Arnold, who, besides his direct 
contributions, has from time to time given most valuable 
advice. 



CONTENTS. 

PACK 

General Introduction Matthew Arnold xvii 

Geoffrey Chaucer (i34Q;-i40o) The Editor i 

Extracts from The Boke of the Duchesse iS 

„ ,, Troylus and Criseyde ^^ 

,, ,, The Parlement of Foules 3^ 

„ The Hous of Fame 40 

,, ,, Prologue to the Legende of Goode Women . • 42 

,, ,, Prologue to the Canterbury Tales . . . ■ A^ 

,, The Tale of the Man of Lawe 5^ 

,, The Clerkes Tale 61 

,, ,, The FrankelejTies Tale 62 

,, The Knightes Tale 72 

Good Counseil of Chaucer ^o 

Poems commonly attributed to Chaucer . . The Editor 82 

Extracts from The Romaunt of the Rose 82 

,, ,, The Flower and the Leaf 85 

,, ,, The Court of Love 88 

Wh.LIAM Langley or Langland (born about 1332) . Fro/. Skeat 91 
Extracts from The Vision of Piers the Plow.uan . . . .96 

John Gower (1330-1408) T. Arnold 102 

Extracts from Cinkante Balades io7 

,, ,, Confessio Amantis : 

Prologue ....•••• 107 

Alexander and the Robber io9 

The Story of Constance 110 

John Lydgate (1370-1440) T. Arnold 114 

Extracts from London Lickpenny 119 

,, The Dietary 121 

,, ,, Falls of Princes : 

Description of the Golden Age , . . . 122 



X CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Thomas Occleve (13657-1450?) T. Arnold 124 

Extracts from De Regimine Principum 127 

James the First of Scotland (1394-1437) . . The Editor 129 

Extract from The King's Quair 132 

Poem from The Gude and Godhe Ballates 136 

Robert Henryson (i425?-i48o?) ; . . . W. E. Henley 137 

The Garmond of Fair Ladies 140 

The Taill of the Lyoun and the Mous ...:.. 141 

William Dunbar (i45o?-i5i3?) Prof. Nichol 147 

Extracts from The Thrissill and the Rois 151 

„ The Goldyn Targe 152 

„ ,, The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis . . . 153 

„ ,, The Lament for the Makaris 157 

Gawain Douglas (1474-1522) A Lang 159 

Extracts from The Palice of Honour : 

A Desert Terrible 163 

The F6te Champetre 166 

A Ballade in Commendation of Honour 167 

Extracts from the Aeneid : 

A Scottish Winter Landscape 164 

The Ghost of Creusa 168 

Dido's Hunting 170 

Sleep 171 

Spring 172 

The Tribes of the Dead 173 

The Destiny of Rome 173 

Stephen Hawes (d. 1530?) J. Churto7i Collins 175 

Extracts from The Pastime of Pleasure : 

Dialogue between Graunde Amoure and La Pucel ... 178 

Amoure laments the absence of La Pucel 179 

The Character of a True Knight 181 

Description of La Belle Pucel 182 

John Skelton (1460 ?-iS29) . . . .J. Churion Collins 184 

A Lullabye . . : 186 

Extract from The Bowge of Court : 

Picture of Riot 187 

Extract from The Garlande of Laurell : 

To Maystress Margaret Hussey 187 

Extract from Colyn Cloute 188 

Sir David Lyndesay (1490 P-issB) .... Prof. Nichol 192 

Extracts from The Dreme 196 

,, ,, The Testament and Complnynt of the Papingo . . 198 

., Ane Satire of the Thru! Estaitis i99 



CONTENTS. xi 

PAGE 

Extracts from The Monarchic . 201 

The Hope of Immortality ..... 202 

Ballads a. Lattg 203 

Historical Ballads : 

Sir Patrick Spans ......... 210 

Edom O'Gordon 213 

Romantic Ballads : 

Glasgerion 218 

The Douglas Tragedy 221 

The Twa Corbies ......... 224 

Waly Waly ..... ..... 225 

Supernatural Ballads : 

Clerk Saunders .......... 226 

The Wife of Usher's Well 230 

A Lyke-Wake Dirge' 232 

Ballads of the Marches : 

Kinmont Willie ......... 233 

Robin Hood Ballads : 

Robin Hood rescuing the Widow's Three Sons .... 239 

Robin Hood's Death and Burial 243 

Domestic Ballads : 

The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington . . . . ■ . . 246 

Sir THOJLA.S Wyatt (1503-1542) . . . .J. Churton Collins 248 

Extracts from Songs and Sonnets 251 

,, ,, Satires ......... 253 

The Earl of Surrey (i5I7?-i547) . . .J. Churton Collins 255 

Descriptipn of Spring 257 

A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved .... 257 

Lines wTitten in imprisonment at Windsor ..... 258 

The Means to attain Happy Life ....... 259 

A Praise of his Love 260 

An Epitaph on Clere 261 

On the Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt 261 

George G.-vscoigne (i536?-i577) .... Prof. Hales 263 

The Arraignment of a Lover ........ 265 

A Strange Passion of a Lover 266 

Extracts from The Steel Glass : 

Piers Ploughman 267 

Epilogus 268 

Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst (1536-1608). 

The Dean of St. Paul's 270 

Extract from The Induction 271 

Complaint of the Duke of Buckingham 273 

Sleep 274 



xu CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Edmund Spenser (1552-1598) . . . The Dean of St. Paul's 275 

Extracts from The Shepheard's Calender : 

Fable of the Oak and the Briar , . 284 

Chase after Love 287 

Description of Maying . , 289 

The Complaint of Age ........ 290 

Extracts from The Faerie Queene : 

The Red Cross Knight and Una 293 

The House of Pride 296 

Una's Marriage .......... 298 

Phaedria and the Idle Lake 300 

The Cave of Mammon ........ 305 

The Bower of Bliss 313 

The Gardens of Venus 315 

Wooing of Amoret .,.,..... 317 

The Quelling of the Blatant Beast ...... 322 

Claims of Mutability pleaded before Nature .... 326 

Extract from the Teares of the Muses : 

Complaint of Thaha (Comedy) 330 

Sonnets ... 331 

Epithalamion ........... 333 

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) .... Mary A. Ward 341 

Sonnets from Astrophel and Stella ....... 348 

Songs from the Same 359 

Philomela . 361 

A Dirge 362 

Two Sonnets ........... 363 

Poems from The Arcadia 364 

FULKE Greville, Lord Brooke (1554-1628) . Mary A. Ward 365 

Extracts from Mustapha : 

Chorus of Tartars .... . : . . . 369 

Choms of Priests . 370 

Chorus from Alaham 371 

Extracts from Caelica : 

Seed-time and Harvest 372 

Elizabetha Regina 373 

Sonnet 373 

An Elegy on Sir Philip Sidney 374 

SiK Edward Dyer (is5o?-i6o7) .... Mary A. Ward 376 

My Mind to me a Kingdom is 377 

To Phillis the Fair Shepherdess 378 

Extracts from Sixe Idillia : 

Helen's Epithalamion . . ' 379 

The Prayer of Theocritus for Syracuse 380 



CONTENTS. xiii 

PAGE 

Henry Constable (1555-1615?) A. Lang 381 

A Pastoral Song 382 

The Shepherd's Song of Venus and Adonis 384 

Sonnet to Sir Philip Sidney's Soul 388 

Thomas Watson (i557?-i592?) The Editor 389 

Extracts from The Hecatompathia : 

Passion II 391 

Passion XL 392 

Passion LXV 393 

John Lyly (1554-1606) W. Minto 394 

Songs from Plays : 

Sappho's Song (from Sappho and Phao) 396 

Apelles' Song (from Alexander and Campaspe) .... 396 

Pan's Song (from Midas) 397 

George Peele (i558?-i592?) W. Minto 398 

A Farewell to Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake . , . 400 

Robert Greene (i56o?-i592) .... Edmund IV. Gosse 402 

Sephestia's Song to her Child 405 

Samela 406 

Fawnia , . 406 

The Palmer's Ode in Never too I>ate 407 

Song 408 

Philomela's Ode 409 

Orpheus' Song 410 

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) . . . . A. C. Bradley 411 

The Passionate Shepherd to his Love 418 

A Fragment 418 

Extracts from the First Sestiad of Hero and Leander . . . 419 

Thomas Lodge (15567-1625) .... Edmund W. Gosse 424 

Rosalynd's Madrigal 427 

Rosader's description of Rosalynd ....... 428 

The Harmony of Love 429 

Phillis' Sickness 429 

Love's Wantonness 430 

William Warner (i55o?-i6o9) G. Saintsbicry 431 

Extract froni Albion's England : 

Before the Battle of Hastings 433 

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) .... Prof. Dowden 431; 

Extracts from Venus and Adonis 442 

,, ,, Lucrece 446 

Sonnets ............ 450 



xiv CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Songs from Plays : 

A Morning Song for Imogen (from Cymbeline) .... 462 
Silvia (from The Two Gentlemen of Verona) . . . .462 

Sigh no more, Ladies (from Much Ado about Nothing) . . 4^3 

A Lover's Lament (from Twelfth Night) 463 

Ariel's Song (from The Tempest) 4^4 

A Sea Dirge (from The Tempest) 4^4 

In the Greenwood (from As You Like It) 4^5 

Winter (from Love's Labour 's Lost) 4^5 

Song of Autolycus (from The Winter's Tale) .... 4^6 

Samuel Daniel (1562-1619) G. Sainishury 467 

Sonnet to Delia 4^9 

Extracts from The History of the Civil War : 

The Death of Talbot 469 

To the Lady Margaret, Countess of Cumberland .... 471 

Extract from Hymen's Triumph 473 

Richard Barnfield (1574-1627) The Editor 474 

Sonnet from Cynthia 476 

Extracts from Poems in Divers Humors : 

Sonnet to his friend Maister R. L 476 

An Ode 477 

Robert Southwell (15627-1594) .... Prof. Hales 479 

Times go by Turns 482 

Loss in Delay ........... 482 

The Burning Babe . . . . . . . . « • 484 

Extract from St. Peter's Complaint , 484 

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) .... Prof. Hales 486 

A Vision upon this Conceit of The Fairy Queen . . . . 489 

Reply to Marlowe's ' The Passionate Shepherd to His Love ' . . 489 

The Lie 490 

His Pilgrimage 492 

■Verses found in his Bible at the Gate-House at Westminster . . 494 

Elizabethan Miscellanies . . . . . The Editor 495 
From The Paradyse of Dainty Devises : 

Amantium Irae [R. Edwards) 498 

From A Handefull of Pleasant Dclites : 

A Proper Sonnet {Anon.) 498 

From The Arbor of Amorous Devises : 

A Sweet Lullaby (Anon.) 500 

From England's Helicon : 

A V.iWnodi: (Edmund Bolton) ....... 501 

Pliillida and Corydon (Nicolas Breton) ..... 502 



C0.\ TEXTS. XV 

PAGE 

To Colin Qout [Shepherd Tonic) 503 

Phillida's Lx)ve-call to her Corydon, and his Replying (Ignoto) . 503 
From Davison's Poetical Rapsody: 

A Fiction : how Cupid made a N)Tnph wound herself with his 

Arrows (Anon., but attributed to A. W,) . . . .505 

A Sonnet to the Moon (Charles Best) S°7 

Sonnet (J. Sylvester) S°7 

A Hymn in Praise of Neptime ( T. Campion) .... 508 

Of Corinna's Singing (T*. Caw?/?o«) 508 

Madrigals 5^9 

George Chapman {1557? i559?-i634) A. Lang 510 

The Thames (from 0\-id's Banquet of Sense) 516 

The Spirit of Homer (from The Tears of Peace) .... 516 

The Procession of Time . ._ 517 

Helen on the Rampart (from lUad III) 518 

The Camp at Night (from Iliad VIII) 519 

The grief of Achilles for the slajing of Patroclus, Menoetius' Son 

(from Iliad XVIII) 520 

Hermes in Cal>-pso's Island (from Odyssey V) 521 

Odysseus' Speech to Nausicaa (from Odyssey VI) .... 522 

The Song the Sirens sung (from Odyssey XII) 524 

Odysseus reveals himself to his Father (from Odyssey XXIV) . . 524 

Michael Drayton (1463-1631) G. Saintsbury 526 

Queen Margaret to William de la Pool, Duke of Suffolk . . . 529 

To the Cambro-Britons and their Harp, his BaUad of Agincourt . 530 

The Arming of Pigwiggen (from NjTnphidia) ..... 534 

Extract from Polyolbion 535 

Joseph Hall (1574-1656) J. Churton Collins 537 

The Golden Age 540 

Hollow Hospitahty 541 

A Coxcomb 542 

A Deserted Mansion 542 

Advice to Marry betimes 543 

John Marston ( ? - ? ) W. Minto 544 

To Detraction 546 

To Everlasting Oblivion 546 

Sir John Davies (d. 1626) Mary A, Ward 548 

Extracts from Nosce Teipsiun : 

The Soul compared to a River 551 

The Soul compared to a Virgin wooed in Marriage . . . 552 

Extract from Orchestra, or A Poeme of Dauncing : 

Antinous praises dancing before Queen Penelope . . . 553 



XVI CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

From Hymnes of Astrea, in Acrostic Verse : 

To the Spring 556 

To the Nightingale 556 

To the Month of September 557 

John Donne {1573-1631) Prof. Hales 558 

Song 361 

A Valediction forbidding Mourning 561 

Song 563 

From Verses to Sir Henry Wootton 564 

The Will 565 



INTRODUCTION. 

' The future of poetry is immense, because in poetry, where 
it is wortliy of its high destinigs, our race, as time goes on, 
will find an ever surer and surer stay. There is not a creed 
which is not shaken, not an accredited dogma which is not 
shown to be questionable, not a received tradition which does 
not threaten to dissolve. Our religion has materialised itself 
in the fact, in the supposed fact; it has attached its emotion 
to the fact, and now the iact is failing it. But for poetry 
the idea is everything ; the rest is a world of illusion, of 
divine illusion. Poetry attaches its emotion to the idea; the 
idea is the £ict. The strongest part of our religion to-day is 
its unconscious poetry.' 

Let me be permitted to quote these words of my own, as 
uttering the thought which should, in my opinion, go with 
us and govern us in all our study of poetry. In the present 
work it is the course of one great contributory stream to the 
world-river of poetry that we are invited to follow. We are 
here invited to trace the stream of English poetry. But 
whether we set ourselves, as here, to follow only one of the 
several streams that make the mighty river of poetry, or 
whether we seek to know them all, our governing thought 
should be the same. We should conceive of poetry worthily, 
and more highly than it has been the custom to conceive of 
it. We should conceive of it as capable of higher uses, and 

vol.. I. b 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



called to higher destinies, than those which in general men 
have assigned to it hitherto. IMore and more mankind will 
discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for 
us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science 
will appear incomplete ; and most of what now passes with 
us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry. 
Science, I say, will appear incomplete without it. For finely 
and truly does Wordsworth call poetry ' the impassioned ex- 
pression which is in the countenance of all science ; ' and 
what is a countenance without its expression .? Again, Words- 
worth finely and truly calls poetry ' the breath and finer spirit 
of all knowledge : ' our religion, parading evidences such as 
those on which the popular mind relies now ; our philosophy, 
pluming itself on its reasonings about causation and finite 
and infinite being ; what are they but the shadows and dreams 
and false shows of knowledge.'' The day will come when 
we shall wonder at ourselves for having trusted to them, for 
having taken them seriously ; and the more we perceive their 
hollowness, the more we shall prize ' the breath and finer spirit 
of knowledge ' off"ered to us by poetry. 

But if we conceive thus highly of the destinies of poetry, 
we must also set our standard for poetry high, since poetry, 
to be capable of fulfilling such high destinies, must be poetry 
of a high order of excellence. We must accustom ourselves 
to a high standard and to a strict judgment. Sainte-Beuve 
relates that Napoleon one day said, when somebody was spoken 
of in his presence as a charlatan : * Charlatan as much as you 
please ; but where is there not charlatanism ? ' ' Yes,' answers 
Sainte-Beuve, ' in politics, in the art of governing mankind, 
that is perhaps true. But in the order of thought, in art, the 
glory, the eternal honour is that charlatanism shall find no 
entrance ; herein lies the inviolablcncss of that noble portion of 



INTRODUCTION. 



man's being.' It is admirably said, and let us hold fast to it. 
In poetry, which is thought and art in one, it is the glory, the 
eternal honour, that charlatanism shall find no entrance ; that 
this noble sphere be kept inviolate and inviolable. Charlatan- 
ism is for confusing or obliterating the distinctions between 
excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-sound, 
true and untrue or only half-true. It is charlatanism, conscious 
or unconscious, whenever we confuse or obliterate these. And 
in poetry, more than anywhere else, it is unpermissible to con- 
fuse or obliterate them. For in poetry the distinction between 
excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-sound, 
true and untrue or only half-true, is of paramount importance. 
It is of paramount importance because of the high destinies of 
poetry. In poetry, as a criticism of life under the conditions 
fixed for such a criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic 
beauty, the spirit of our race will find, we have said, as time 
goes on and as other helps fail, its consolation and stay. But 
the consolation and stay will be of power in proportion to the 
power of the criticism of life. And the criticism of life will be 
of power in proportion as the poetry conveying it is excellent 
rather than inferior, sound rather than unsound or half-sound, 
true rather than untrue or half-true. 

The best poetry is what we want; the best poetry will be 
found to have a power of forming, sustaining, and delighting 
us, as nothing else can. A clearer, deeper sense of the best 
in poetry, and of the strength and joy to be drawn from it, 
is the most precious benefit which we can gather from a 
poetical collection such as the present. And yet in the very 
nature and conduct of such a collection there is inevitably 
something which tends to obscure in us the consciousness of 
what our benefit should be, and to distract us from the pursuit 
of it. We should therefore steadily set it before our minds 

b2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



at the outset, and should compel ourselves to revert constantly 
to the thought of it as we proceed. 

Yes ; constantly, in reading poetry, a sense for the best, the 
really excellent, and of the strength and joy to be drawn from 
it, should be present in our minds and should govern our 
estimate of what we read. But this real estimate, the only 
true one, is liable to be superseded, if we are not watchful, 
by two other kinds of estimate, the historic estimate and the 
personal estimate, both of which are fallacious. A poet or 
a poem may count to us historically, they may count to us on 
grounds personal to ourselves, and they may count to us really. 
They may count to us historically. The course of develop- 
ment of a nation's language, thought, and poetry, is profoundly 
interesting; and by regarding a poet's work as a stage in this 
course of development we may easily bring ourselves to make 
it of more importance as poetry than in itself it really is, we 
may come to use a language of quite exaggerated praise in 
criticising it ; in short, to over-rate it. So arises in our poetic 
judgments the fallacy caused by the estimate which we may call 
historic. Then, again, a poet or a poem may count to us on 
grounds personal to ourselves. Our personal affinities, likings, 
and circumstances, have great power to sway our estimate of 
this or that poet's work, and to make us attach more import- 
ance to it as poetry than in itself it really possesses, because 
to us it is, or has been, of high importance. Here also we 
over-rate the object of our interest, and apply to it a language 
of praise which is quite exaggerated. And thus we get the 
source of a second fallacy in our poetic judgments, — the fallacy 
caused by an estimate which we may call personal. 

Both fallacies are natural. It is evident how naturally the 
study of the history and development of a poetry may incline 
a man to pause over reputations and works once conspicuous 



INTJWDUCTION. 



but now obscure, and to quarrel with a careless public for 
skipping, in obedience to mere tradition and habit, from one 
famous name or work in its national poetry to another, igno- 
rant of what it misses, and of the reason for keeping what it 
keeps, and of the whole process of growth in its poetry. The 
French have become diligent students of their own early poetry, 
which they long neglected ; the study makes many of them 
dissatisfied with their so-called classical poetry, the court- 
tragedy of the seventeenth century, a poetry which Pellisson 
long ago reproached with its want of the true poetic stamp, 
with its politesse sterile et rampante, but which nevertheless has 
reigned in France as absolutely as if it had been the perfec- 
tion of classical poetry indeed. Tlie dissatisfaction is natural ; 
yet a lively and accomplished critic, M. Charles d'Hericault, the 
editor of Clement INIarot, goes too far when he says that ' the 
cloud of glory playing round a classic is a mist as dangerous 
to the future of .a literature as it is intolerable for the purposes 
of history.' * It hinders,' he goes on, ' it hinders us from seeing 
more than one single point, the culminating and exceptional 
point; the summary, fictitious and arbitrary, of a thought and 
of a work. It substitutes a halo for a physiognomy, it puts 
a statue where there was once a man, and hiding from us all 
trace of the labour, the attempts, the weaknesses, the failures, 
it claims not study but veneration ; it does not show us how 
the thing is done, it imposes upon us a model. Above all, for 
the historian this creation of classic personages is inadmissible ; 
for it withdraws the poet from his time, from his proper life, 
it breaks historical relationships, it blinds criticism by con- 
ventional admiration, and renders the investigation of literary 
origins unacceptable. It gives us a human personage no 
longer, but a God seated immovable amidst his perfect work, 
like Jupiter on Olympus; and hardly will it be possible for 



THE ENGLISH rOETS. 



the young student, to whom such work is exhibited at such 
a distance from him, to believe that it did not issue ready 
made from that divine head.' 

All this is brilliantly and tellingly said, but we must plead 
for a distinction. Everything depends on the reality of a 
poet's classic character. If he is a dubious classic, let us sift 
him; if he is a false classic, let us explode him. But if he 
is a real classic, if his work belongs to the class of the very 
best (for this is the true and right meaning of the word classic, 
classical), then the great thing for us is to feel and enjoy his 
work as deeply as ever we can, and to appreciate the wide dif- 
ference between it and all work which has not the same high 
character. This is what is salutary, this is what is formative ; 
this is the great benefit to be got from the study of poetry. 
Everything which interferes with it, which hinders it, is injurious. 
True, we must read our classic with open eyes, and not with 
eyes blinded with superstition ; we must perceive when his work 
comes short, when it drops out of the class of the very best, and 
we must rate it, in such cases, at its proper value. But the 
use of this negative criticism is not in itself, it is entirely in its 
enabling us to have a clearer sense and a deeper enjoyment of 
what is truly excellent. To trace the labour, the attempts, 
the weaknesses, the failures of a genuine classic, to acquaint 
oneself with his time and his life and his historical relation- 
ships, is mere literary dilettantism unless it has that clear sense 
and deeper enjoyment for its end. It may be said that the 
more we know about a classic the better we shall enjoy him; 
and, if we lived as long as INIethuselah and had all of us heads 
of perfect clearness and wills of perfect steadfastness, this might 
be true in fact as it is plausible in theory. But the case here is 
much the same as the case with the Greek and Latin studies of 
our schoolboys. The elaborate philological groundwork which 



INTR on L ^C TION. 



we require them to lay is in theory an admirable preparation 
for appreciating the Greek and Latin authors worthily. The 
more thoroughly we lay the groundwork, the better we shall be 
able, it may be said, to enjoy the authors. True, if time were 
not so short, and schoolboys' wits not so soon tired and their 
power of attention exhausted ; only, as it is, the elaborate 
philological preparation goes on, but the authors are little 
known and less enjoyed. So with the investigator of ' historic 
origins' in poetry. He ought to enjoy the true classic all the 
better for his investigations ; he often is distracted from the 
enjoyment of the best, and with the less good he overbusies 
himself, and is prone to overrate it in proportion to the trouble 
which it has cost him. 

The idea of tracing historic origins and historical relation- 
ships cannot be absent from a compilation like the present. 
And naturally the poets to be exhibited in it will be assigned to 
those persons for exhibition who are known to prize them 
highly, rather than to those who have no special inclination 
towards them. IMoreover the very occupation with an author, 
and the business of exhibiting him, disposes us to affirm and 
amplify his importance. In the present work, therefore, we are 
sure of frequent temptation to adopt the historic estimate, or 
the personal estimate, and to forget the real estimate; which 
latter, nevertheless, we must employ if we are to make poetry 
yield us its full benefit. So high is that benefit, the benefit 
of clearly feeling and of deeply enjoying the really excellent, 
the truly classic in poetry, that we do well, I say, to set it 
fixedly before our minds as our object in studying poets and 
poetry, and to make the desire of attaining it the one prin- 
ciple to which, as the Imilation says, whatever we may read 
or come to know, we always return. Cum multa legen's et 
cogjiovcris, ad tiniim semper oporiei redire principium. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The historic estimate is likely in especial to affect our 
judgment and our language when we are dealing with ancient 
poets ; the personal estimate when we are dealing with poets 
our contemporaries, or at any rate modern. The exaggerations 
due to the historic estimate are not in themselves, perhaps, of 
very much gravity. Their report hardly enters the general ear; 
probably they do not always impose even on the literary men 
who adopt them. But they lead to a dangerous abuse of lan- 
guage. So we hear Csedmon, amongst our own poets, com- 
pared to IMilton. I have already noticed the enthusiasm of 
one accomplished French critic for ' historic origins.' Another 
eminent French critic, ~Si. Vitet, comments upon that famous 
document of the early poetry of his nation, the Chanson de 
Rola7id. It is indeed a most interesting document. The 
joculaior or jongleur Taillefer, who was with William the Con- 
queror's army at Hastings, marched before the Norman troops, 
so said the tradition, singing ' of Charlemagne and of Roland 
and of Oliver, and of the vassals who died at Roncevaux ; ' 
and it is suggested that in the Chanson de Roland by one 
Turoldus or Theroulde, a poem preserved in a manuscript 
of the twelfth century in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, we 
have certainly the matter, perhaps even some of the words, of 
the chaunt which Taillefer sang. The poem has vigour and 
freshness ; it is not without pathos. But M. Vitet is not 
satisfied with seeing in it a document of some poetic value, 
and of st\y high historic and linguistic value; he sees in it 
a grand and beautiful work, a monument of epic genius. In its 
general design he finds the grandiose conception, in its details 
he finds the constant union of simplicity with greatness, which 
are the marks, he truly says, of the genuine epic, and distinguish 
it from the artificial epic of literary ages. One thinks of Homer; 
this is the sort of praise which is given to Homer, and justly 



INTRODUCTION. 



given. Higher praise there cannot well be, and it is the praise 
due to epic poetry of the highest order only, and to no other. 
Let us try, then, the Chamon de Roland at its best. Roland, 
mortally wounded, lays himself down under a pine-tree, with his 
face turned towards Spain and the enemy :— 

'De plusurs choses a remembrer li prist, 
De tantes teres ciime li bers cunquist, 
De dulce France, des humes de sun lign, 
De Carleriiagne sun seignor Id Tnurrit '.' 

That is primidve work, I repeat, with an undeniable poetic 
quality of its own. It deserves such praise, and such praise 
is sufficient for it. . But now turn to Homer :— 

*ns <pkTo- Tois S' ■7S7? KaTix^y cpvai^oos aTa 
kv ^aKi5aiflovl av9i, (piXy «" -^arpih 70177 '^ 

We are here in another world, another order of poetry alto- 
creiher ■ here is righdy due such supreme praise as that which 
M Vitet gives to the C/ianson de Roland. If our words are 
to have any meaning, if our judgments are to have any solidity, 
we must not heap that supreme praise upon poetry of an order 
immeasurably inferior. 

Indeed there can be no more useful help for discovering 
what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can 
therefore do us most good, than to have always in one's mmd 
lines and expressions of the great masters, and to apply them 
as a touchstone to other poetry. Of course we are not to 
require this other poetry to resemble them; it may be very 

> 'Then be-an lie to call many things to remembrance,-aU the lands 
which his valour conquered, and pleasant France and the men of h.s 
lineage, and Charlemagne h.s liege lord who nourished h.m. -Lhan.on de 

Roland, iii. 9.^9-942- . 

■^ 'So said she; they long since in Earth's soft arms were reposing, 
There in their own dear land, their father land, Lacedccmon. 

Iliad, iii. 243-4 (translated by Dr. Ilawtrcy). 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



dissimilar. But if we have any tact we sliall find thenm, when 
we have lodged them well in our minds, an infallible touch- 
stone for detecting the presence or absence of high poetic 
quality, and also the degree of this quality, in all other poetry 
which we may place beside them. Short passages, even single 
lines, will serve our turn quite sufficiently. Take the two lines 
which I have just quoted from Homer, the poet's comment on 
Helen's mention of her brothers ; — or take his 

'^A SeiXw, Tt cr^cDi" Su/Jec II?;\^i' avaitri 
Ovi]rZ\ vixits S' karov dyi'jpQj t aOavaro} re. 
^ iVa hvarr]Voiai- [liT dvSpdaiv a\ye' (xt^tov'; 

the address of Zeus to the horses of Peleus ; — or, take finally, his 

Kal ere, ycpov, t6 Ttplv filv aKovofiiv oK^iov ilvai^' 

the words of Achilles to Priam, a suppliant before him. Take 
that incomparable line and a half of Dante, Ugolino's tre- 
mendous words : — 

* lo no piangeva ; si dentro impietrai. 
Piangevan elli . . .^ ' 

take the lovely words of Beatrice to Virgil: — 

' lo son fatta da Dio, sua merce, tale, 
Che la vostra miseria non mi tange, 
Ne fiamma d' esto incendio non m' assale . . .*' 

take the simple, but perfect, single line : — 
' In la sua volontade e nostra pace '.* 

* 'Ah, unhappy pair, why gave we you to King Peleus, to a mortal? 
but ye are without old age, and immortal. Was it that with men born to 
misery ye might have sorrow?' — Iliad, xvii. 443-5. 

"^ ' Nay, and Ihou too, old man, in former days wast, as we hear, happy.' 
— Iliad, xxiv. 543. 

^ 'I wailed not, so of stone grew I within; — they wailed.' — Inferno, 
xxxiii. 39, 40. 

* 'Of such sort hath God, thanked be his mercy, made me, that your 
misery touchcth me not, neither doth the flame of this fire strike me.' — 
Inferno, ii. 91-3. 

* 'In Ills will is our peace.' — Paradiso, iii. 85. 



introduction: xxvu 



Take of Shakespeare a line or two of Henry the Fourth's 
expostulation with sleep : — 

' Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast 
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains 
In cradle of the rude imperious surge . . .' 

and take, as well, Hamlet's dying request to Horatio : — 

' If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain 
To tell my story . . .' 

Take of JMilton that INIiltonic passage : — 

' Darken'd so, yet shone 
Above them all the arch- angel; but his face 
Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd, and care 
Sat on his faded cheek . . .' 

add two such lines as :— 

' And courage never to submit or yie'd 
And what is else not to be overcome . . .' 

and finish with the exquisite close to the loss of Proserpine, 

the loss 

• which cost Ceres all that pain 

To seek her through the world.' 

These few lines, if we have tact and can use them, are enough 
even of themselves to keep clear and sound our judgments 
about poetry, to save us from fallacious estimates of it, to 
conduct us to a real estimate. 

The specimens I have quoted differ widely from one another, 
but they have in common this : the possession of the very 
highest poetical quality. If we are thoroughly penetrated by 
their power, we shall find that we have acquired a sense en- 
abling us, whatever poetry may be laid before us, to feel the 
degree in which a high poetical quality is present or wanting 
there. Critics give themselves great labour to draw out what 



THE EXGLISII POETS. 



in the abstract constitutes the characters of a high quality of 
poetry. It is much better simply to have recourse to concrete 
examples ; — to take specimens of poetry of the high, the very 
highest quaUty, and to say : The characters of a high quality 
of poetry are what is expressed there. They are far better 
recognised by being felt in the verse of the master, than by 
being perused in the prose of the critic. Nevertheless if we 
are urgently pressed to give some critical account of them, we 
may safely, perhaps, venture on laying down, not indeed how 
and why the characters arise, but where and in what they arise. 
They are in the matter and substance of the poetry, and they 
are in its manner and style. Both of these, the substance and 
matter on the one hand, the style and manner on the other, 
have a mark, an accent, of high beauty, worth, and power. 
But if we are asked to define this mark and accent in the 
abstract, our answer must be : No, for we should thereby be 
darkening the question, not clearing it. The mark and accent 
are as given by the substance and matter of that poetry, by the 
style and manner of that poetry, and of all other poetry which 
is akin to it in quality. 

Only one thing we may add as to the substance and matter 
of poetry, guiding ourselves by Aristotle's profound observation 
that the superiority of poetry over history consists in its possess- 
ing a higher truth and a higher seriousness {(pi\o(To(pu)Tfpov Koi 
(TTTovdaiuTfpov). Let us add, therefore, to what we have said, 
this : that the substance and matter of the best poetry acquire 
their special character from possessing, in an eminent degree, 
truth and seriousness. We may add yet further, what is in 
itself evident, that to the style and manner of the best poetry 
their special character, their accent, is given by their diction, and, 
even yet more, by their movement. And though we distinguish 
between the two characters, the two accents, of superiority, yet 



IN7R0DUCTI0X. 



they are nevertheless vitally connected one with the other. 
The superior character of truth and seriousness, in the matter 
and substance of the best poetry, is inseparable from the supe- 
riority of diction and movement marking its style and manner. 
The two superiorities are closely related, and are in steadfast 
proportion one to the other. So far as high poetic truth and 
seriousness are wanting to a poet's matter and substance, so 
far also, we may be sure, will a high poetic stamp of diction 
and movement be wanting to his style and manner. In propor- 
tion as this high stamp of diction and movement, again, is 
absent from a poet's style and manner, we shall find, also, that 
high poetic truth and seriousness are absent from his substance 
and matter. 

So stated, these are but dry generalities ; their whole force 
lies in their application. And I could wish every student of 
poetry to make the application of them for himself. Made by 
himself, the application would impress itself upon his mind 
far more deeply than made by me. Neither will my limits 
allow me to make any full application of the generalities above 
propounded ; but in the hope of bringing out, at any rate, 
some significance in them, and of establishing an important 
principle more firmly by their means, I will, in the space which 
remains to me, follow rapidly fiom the commencement the 
course of our English poetry with them in my view. 

Once more I return to the early poetry of France, with which 
our own poetry, in its origins, is indissolubly connected. In 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, that seed-time of all modern 
language and literature, the poetry of France had a clear pre- 
dominance in Europe. Of the two divisions of that poetry, 
its productions in the languc d'oil and its productions in the 
hwgne d'oc, the poetry of the langue d'oc, of southern France, 
of the troubadours, is of importance because of its effect on 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Italian literature; — the first literature of modern Europe to 
strike the true and grand note, and to bring forth, as in Dante 
and Petrarch it brought forth, classics. But the predominance 
of French poetry in Europe, during the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries, is due to its poetry of the langiie d'oil, the poetry of 
northern France and of the tongue which is now the French 
language. In the twelfth century the bloom of this romance- 
poetry was earlier and stronger in England, at the court of 
our Anglo-Norman kings, than in France itself. But it was 
a bloom of French poetry; and as our native poetry formed 
itself, it formed itself out of this. The romance-poems which 
took possession of the heart and imagination of Europe in 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are French ; ' they are,' as 
Southey justly says, ' the pride of French literature, nor have 
we anything which can be placed in competition with them.' 
Themes were supplied from all quarters ; but the romance- 
setting which was common to them all, and which gained the 
ear of Europe, was French. This constituted for the French 
poetry, literature and language, at the height of the Middle Age, 
an unchallenged predominance. The Italian Brunetto Latini, 
the master of Dante, wrote his Treasure in French because, 
he says, ' la parleure en est plus delitable et plus commune 
a toutes gens.' In the same century, the thirteenth, the French 
romance-writer. Christian of Troyes, formulates the claims, in 
chivalry and letters, of France, his native country, as follows: — 

• Or vous eit par ce livre apris, 
Que Gresse ot cle chevalcrie 
Le premier los et cle clcrgie; 
Puis vint chevalcrie i Rome, 
Et cle la clergie la some, 
Qui ore est en Prance venue. 
Diex (loinst qu'ele i soit rctenue, 
i;t (luc li lius li abelisse 
'J'aiit cjue cle France n'isse 
L'onor qui s'i est arcstcel' 



INTRODUCTION. 



' Now by this book you will learn that first Greece had the 
renown for chivalry and letters ; then chivalry and the primacy 
in letters passed to Rome, and now it is come to France. 
God grant it may be kept there; and that the place may 
please it so well, that the honour which has come to make 
stay in France may never depart thence ! ' 

Yet it is now all gone, this French romance-poetry, of which 
the weight of substance and the power of style are not unfairly 
represented by this extract from Christian of Troyes. Only 
by means of the historic estimate can we persuade om-selves 
now to think that any of it is of poetical importance. 

But in the fourteenth century there comes an Englishman 
nourished on this poetry, taught his trade by this poetry, getting 
words, rhyme, metre from this, poetry ; for even of that stanza 
which the Italians used, and which Chaucer derived immediately 
from the Italians, the basis and suggestion was probably given 
in France. Chaucer (I have already named him) fascinated his 
contemporaries, but so too did Christian of Troyes and Wolfram 
of Eschenbach. Chaucer's power of fascination, however, is 
enduring ; his poetical importance does not need the assistance 
of the historic estimate, it is real. He is a genuine source of joy 
and strength which is flowing still for us and will flow always. 
He will be read, as time goes on, far more generally than 
he is read now. His language is a cause of difliculty for us ; 
but so also, and I think in quite as great a degree, is the 
language of Burns. In Chaucer's case, as in that of Burns, 
it is a difficulty to be unhesitatingly accepted and overcome. 

If we ask ourselves wherein consists the immense superiority 
of Chaucer's poetry over the romance-poetry, why it is that 
in passing from this to Chaucer we suddenly feel ourselves 
to be in another world, we shall find that his superiority is both 
in the substance of his poetry and in the style of his poetry. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



His superiority in substance is given by his large, free, simple, 
clear yet kindly view of human life, — so unlike the total want, in 
the romance-poets, of all intelligent command of it. Chaucer 
has not their helplessness ; he has gained the power to survey 
the world from a central, a truly human point of view. We have 
only to call to mind the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. 
The right comment upon it is Dryden's : ' It is sufficient to say, 
according to the proverb, that here is God's plenly! And 
again: ' He is a perpetual fountain of good sense.' It is by 
a large, free, sound representation of things, that poetry, this 
high criticism of life, has truth of substance ; and Chaucer's 
poetry has truth of substance. 

Of his style and manner, if we think first of the romance- 
poetry and then of Chaucer's divine liquidness of diction, his 
divine fluidity of movement, it is difficult to speak temperately. 
They are irresistible, and justify all the rapture with which his 
successors speak of his ' gold dew-drops of speech.' Johnson 
misses the point entirely when he finds fault with Dryden 
for ascribing to Chaucer the first refinement of our numbers, 
and says that Gower also can show smooth numbers and easy 
rhymes. The refinement of our numbers means something far 
more than this. A nation may have versifiers with smooth 
numbers and easy rhymes, and yet may have no real poetry 
at all. Chaucer is the father of our splendid English poetry, he 
is our ' well of English undefiled,' because by the lovely charm 
of his diction, the lovely charm of his movement, he makes an 
epoch and founds a tradition. In Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, 
Keats, we can follow the tradition of the liquid diction, the fluid 
movement, of Chaucer ; at one time it is his liquid diction of 
which in these poets we feel the virtue, and at another time it is 
his fluid movement. And the virtue is irresistible. 

Bounded as is my space, I must yel find room for an example 



INTRODUCTION. XXXUl 



of Chaucer's virtue, as I have given examples to show the virtue 

of the great classics. I feel disposed to say that a single line is 

enough to show the charm of Chaucer's verse ; that merely one 

line like this : 

' O mart}T souded ^ in virginitee ! ' 

has a virtue of manner and movement such as we shall not find 
in all the verse of romance-poetry ; — but this is saying nothing. 
The virtue is such as we shall not find, perhaps, in all English 
poetry, outside the poets whom I have named as the special 
inheritors of Chaucer's tradition. A single line, however, is too 
little if we have not the strain of Chaucer's verse well in our 
memory ; let us take a stanza. It is from The Prioress's Tale, 
the story of the Christian child murdered in a Jewry : — 

' My throte is cut unto my nekke-bone 
Saide this child, and as by way of kinde 
I should have deyd, yea, longe time agone; 
But Jesu Christ, as ye in bookes finde. 
Will that his glory last and be in minde, 
And for the worship of his mother dere 
Yet may I sing O Alma loud and clere.' 

Wordsworth has modernised this Tale, and to feel how delicate 
and evanescent is the charm of verse, we have only to read 
Wordsworth's first three lines of this stanza after Chaucer's : — 

' My throat is cut unto the bone, I trow. 
Said this young child, and by the law of kind 
I should have died, yea, many hours ago.' 

The charm is departed. It is often said that the power of liquid- 
ness and fluidity in Chaucer's verse was dependent upon a free, 
a licentious dealing with language, such as is now impossible ; 
upon a liberty, such as Burns too enjoyed, of making words 
like neck, bird, into a dissyllable by adding to them, and words 

* The French sonde; soldered, fixed fast. 
VOL. I. C 



xxxiv THE ENGLISH POETS. 

like cause, rhyme, into a dissyllable by sounding the e mute. It is 
true that Chaucer's fluidity is conjoined with this liberty, and is 
admirably served by it; but we ought not to say that it was 
dependent upon it. It was dependent upon his talent. Other 
poets with a like liberty do not attain to the fluidity of Chaucer; 
Burns himself does not attain to it. Poets again, who have a 
talent akin to Chaucer's, such as Shakespeare or Keats, have 
known how to attain to his fluidity without the like liberty. 

And yet Chaucer is not one of the great classics. His poetry 
transcends and effaces, easily and without efi'ort, all the romance- 
poetry of Catholic Christendom ; it transcends and effaces all 
the English poetry contemporary with it, it transcends and 
effaces all the English poetry subsequent to it down to the 
age of Elizabeth. Of such avail is poetic truth of substance, 
in its natural and necessary union with poetic truth of style. 
And yet, I say, Chaucer is not one of the great classics. He 
has not their accent. What is wanting to him is suggested 
by the mere mention of the name of the first great classic 
of Christendom, the immortal poet who died eighty years 
before Chaucer, — Dante. The accent of such verse as 

'In la sua volontade e nostra pace ..." 

is altogether beyond Chaucer's reach; we praise him, but we 
feel that this accent is out of the question for him. It may 
be said that it was necessarily out of the reacli of any poet 
in the England of that stage of growth. Possibly; but we are 
to adopt a real, not a historic, estimate of poetry. Plowever we 
may account for its absence, something is wanting, then, to 
the poetry of Chaucer, which poetry must have before it can be 
placed in the glorious class of the best. And there is no doubt 
what that something is. It is the <n\ovhai6rr\^, the high and 
excellent seriousness, which Aristotle assigns as one of the 



INTRODUCTION. xxxv 



grand virtues of poetry. The substance of Chaucer's 
poetry, his view of things and his criticism of Ufe, has largeness, 
freedom, shrewdness, benignity; but it has not this high 
seriousness. Homer's criticism of Ufe has it, Dante's has it, 
Shakespeare's has it. It is this chiefly which gives to our spirits 
what they can rest upon ; and with the increasing demands of 
our modern ages upon poetry, this virtue of giving us what we 
can rest upon will be more and more highly esteemed. A voice 
from the slums of Paris, fifty or sixty years after Chaucer, the 
voice of poor Villon out of his life of riot and crime, has at its 
happy moments (as, for instance, in the last stanza of La Belle 
Heaiilmiere^) more of this important poetic virtue of serious- 
ness than all the productions of Chaucer. But its apparition in 
Villon, and in men like Villon, is fitful ; the greatness of the 
great poets, the power of their criticism of life, is that their 
virtue is sustained. 

To our praise, therefore, of Chaucer as a poet there must be 
this limitation; he lacks the high seriousness of the great 
classics, and therewith an important part of their virtue. Still, 

* The name BeanlmVere is said to be derived from a head-dress (helm) 
worn as a mark by courtesans. In Villon's ballad, a poor old creature of 
this class laments her days of youth and beauty. The. last stanza of the 
ballad runs thus : — 

'Ainsi le bon temps regretons 
Entre nous, pauvres vieilles sottes, 
Assises bas, a croppetons, 
Tout en ung tas comme pelottes; 
A petit feu de chenevottes 
Tost allumees, tost estainctes. 
Et jadis fusmes si mignottes ! 
Ainsi en prend a maintz et maintes.' 
' Thus amongst ourselves we regret the good time, poor silly old things, 
low-seated on our heels, all in a heap like so many balls ; by a little fire of 
hemp-stalks, soon lighted, soon spent. And once we were such darlings ! 
So fares it with many and many a one.' 

C 2 



xxxvi THE ENGLISH POETS. 

the main fact for us to bear in mind about Chaucer is his 
sterling value according to that real estimate which we firmly 
adopt for all poets. He has poetic truth of substance, though 
he has not high poetic seriousness, and corresponding to his 
truth of substance he has an exquisite virtue of style and 
manner. With him is born our real poetry. 

But for my present purpose I need not dwell on our Eliza- 
bethan poetry, or on the continuation and close of this poetry 
in Milton. We all of us profess to be agreed in the estimate 
of this poetry ; we all of us recognise it as great poetry, our 
greatest, and Shakespeare and Milton as our poetical classics. 
The real estimate, here, has universal currency. With the next 
age of our poetry divergency and difficulty begin. An historic 
estimate of that poetry has established itself; and the question 
is, whether it will be found to coincide with the real estimate. 

The age of Dryden, together with our whole eighteenth cen- 
tury which followed it, sincerely believed itself to have produced 
poetical classics of its own, and even to have made advance, in 
poetry, beyond all its predecessors. Dryden regards as not 
seriously disputable the opinion ' that the sweetness of English 
verse was never understood or practised by our fathers.' Cowley 
could see nothing at all in Chaucer's poetry. Dryden heartily 
admired it, and, as we have seen, praised its matter admirably; 
but of its exquisite manner and movement all he can find to 
say is that ' there is the rude sweetness of a Scotch tune in it, 
which is natural and pleasing, though not perfect.' Addison, 
wishing to praise Chaucer's numbers, compares them with 
Dryden's own. And all through the eighteenth century, and 
down even into our own times, the stereotyped phrase of appro- 
bation for good verse found in oiu" early poetry has been, that 
it even approached the verse of Dryckn, Addison, Pope, and 
Johnson. 



INTRODUCTION. 



Are Dryden and Pope poetical classics? Is the historic 
estimate, which represents them as such, and which has been so 
long established that it cannot easily give way, the real estimate ? 
Wordsworth and Coleridge, as is well known, denied it; but 
the authority of Wordsworth and Coleridge does not weigh 
much with the young generation, and there are many signs to 
show that the eighteenth century and its judgments are coming 
into favour again. Are the favourite poets of the eighteenth 
century classics ? 

It is impossible within my present limits to discuss the 
question fully. And what man of letters would not shrink 
from seeming to dispose dictatorially of the claims of two men 
who are, at any rate, such masters in letters as Dryden and 
Pope ; two men of such admirable talent, both of them, and 
one of them, Dryden, a man, on all sides, of such energetic 
and genial power ? And yet, if we are to gain the full benefit 
from poetry, we must have the real estimate of it. I cast about 
for some mode of arriving, in the present case, at such an 
estimate without offence. And perhaps the best way is to 
begin, as it is easy to begin, with cordial praise. ^ 

When we find Chapman, the Elizabethan translator of 
Homer, expressing himself in his preface thus : ' Though truth 
in her very nakedness sits in so deep a pit, that from Gades to 
Aurora and Ganges few eyes can sound her, I hope yet those 
few here will so discover and confirm, that, the date being out 
of her darkness in this morning of our poet, he shall now gird 
his temples with the sun,' — we pronounce that such a prose is 
intolerable. When we find Milton writing : ' And long it was 
not after, when I was confirmed in this opinion, that he, who 
would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in 
laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem,' — we pro- 
nounce that such a prose has its own grandeur, but that it 



xxxviii THE ENGLISH POETS. 

is obsolete and inconvenient. But when we find Dryden telling 
us : ' What Virgil wrote in the vigour of his age, in plenty and 
at ease, I have undertaken to translate in my declining years ; 
struggling with wants, oppressed with sickness, curbed in my 
genius, liable to be misconstrued in all I write,' — then we 
exclaim that here at last we have the true English prose, a 
prose such as we would all gladly use if we only knew how. 
Yet Dryden was Milton's contemporary. 

But after the Restoration the time had come when our nation 
felt the imperious need of a fit prose. So, too, the time had 
likewise come when our nation felt the imperious need of freeing 
itself from the absorbing preoccupation which religion in the 
Puritan age had exercised. It was impossible that this freedom 
should be brought about without some negative excess, without 
some neglect and impairment of the religious Ufe of the soul ; 
and the spiritual history of the eighteenth century shows us that 
the freedom was not achieved without them. Still, the freedom 
was achieved ; the preoccupation, an undoubtedly baneful and 
retarding one if it had continued, was got rid of. And as with 
religion amongst us at that period, so it was also with letters. A 
fit prose was a necessity; but it was impossible that a fit prose 
should establish itself amongst us without some touch of frost 
to the imaginative life of the soul. The needful qualities for 
a fit prose arc regularity, uniformity, precision, balance. The 
men of letters, whose destiny it may be to bring their nation 
to the attainment of a fit prose, must of necessity, whether they 
work in prose or in verse, give a predominating, an almost 
exclusive attention to the qualities of regularity, uniformity, 
precision, balance. But an almost exclusive attention to these 
qualities involves some repression and silencing of poetry. 

We are to regard Dryden as the puissant and glorious 
founder, Pope as the splendid high-priest, of our age of prose 



INTRODUCTIOiV. 



and reason, of our excellent and indispensable eighteenth cen- 
tury. For the purposes of their mission and destiny their 
poetry, like their prose, is admirable. Do you ask me whether 
Dryden's verse, take it almost where you will, is not good } 

' A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged, 
Fed on the lawns and in the forest ranged.' 

I answer : Admirable for the purposes of the inaugurator of an 
age of prose and reason. Do you ask me whether Pope's 
verse, take it almost where you will, is not good } 

' To Hounslow Heath I point, and Banstead Down ; 
Thence comes your mutton, and these chicks my own.' 

I answer : Admirable for the purposes of the high-priest of 
an age of prose and reason. But do you ask me whether such 
verse proceeds from men with an adequate poetic criticism of 
life, from men whose criticism of hfe has a high seriousness, 
or even, without that high seriousness, has poetic largeness, 
freedom, insight, benignity .? Do you ask me whether the ap- 
plication of ideas to Hfe in the verse of these men, often a 
powerful appHcation, no doubt, is a powerful poetic application ^ 
Do you ask me whether the poetry of these men has either the 
matter or the inseparable manner of such an adequate poetic 
criticism ; whether it has the accent of 



or of 
or of 



' Absent thee from felicity awhile . . .' 

• And what is else not to be overcome . . .* 

' O martyr souded in virginitee !' 



I answer : It has not and cannot have them ; it is the poetry of 
the builders of an age of prose and reason. Though they may 
write in verse, though they may in a certain sense be masters of 



xl THE ENGLISH POETS. 

the art of versification, Dryden and Pope are not classics of our 
poetry, they are classics of our prose. 

Gray is our poetical classic of that literature and age ; the 
position of Gray is singular, and demands a word of notice 
here. He has not the volume or the power of poets who, 
coming in times more favourable, have attained to an inde- 
pendent criticism of life. But he lived with the great poets, 
he lived, above all, with the Greeks, through perpetually study- 
ing and enjoying them; and he caught their poetic point of 
view for regarding life, caught their poetic manner. The point 
of view and the manner are not self-sprung in him, he caught 
them of others ; and he had not the free and abundant use 
of them. But whereas Addison and Pope never had the use of 
them, Gray had the use of them at times. He is the scantiest 
and frailest of classics in our poetry, but he is a classic. 

And now, after Gray, we are met, as we draw towards the 
end of the eighteenth century, we are met by the great name of 
Burns. We enter now on times where the personal estimate of 
poets begins to be rife, and where the real estimate of them 
is not reached without difficulty. But in spite of the disturbing 
pressures of personal partiality, of national partiality, let us try 
to reach a real estimate of the poetry of Burns. 

By his English poetry Burns in general belongs to the 
eighteenth century, and has little importance for us. 

' Mark ruffian Violence, distain'd with crimes, 
Rousing elate in these degenerate times ; 
View unsuspecting Innocence a piey. 
As guileful Fraud points out the erring way; 
While subtle Litigation's pliant tongue 
The life-blood equal sucks of Right and Wrong 1' 

Evidently this is not the real Burns, or his name and fame 
would have disappeared long ago. Nor is Clarindu's love-poet, 



INTRODUCTION. xli 



Sylvander, the real Burns either. But he tells us himself: 
' These English songs gravel me to death. I have not the 
command of the language that I have of my native tongue. 
In fact, I think that my ideas are more barren in English than 
in Scotch. I have been at Duncan Gray to dress it in English, 
but all I can do is desperately stupid.' We English turn natu- 
rally, in Burns, to the poems in our own language, because we 
can read them easily; but in those poems we have not the real 
Burns. 

The real Burns is of course in his Scotch poems. Let us 
boldly say that of much of this poetry, a poetry dealing per- 
petually with Scotch drink, Scotch religion, and Scotch manners, 
a Scotchman's estimate is apt to be personal. A Scotchman is 
used to this world of Scotch drink, Scotch religion, and Scotch 
manners ; he has a tenderness for it ; he meets its poet half way. 
In this tender mood he reads pieces like the Holy Fair or 
Halloween. But this world of Scotch drink, Scotch religion, 
and Scotch manners is against a poet, not for him, when it 
is not a partial countryman who reads him; for in itself it 
is not a beautiful world, and no one can deny that it is of 
advantage to a poet to deal with a beautiful world. Burns's 
world of Scotch drink, Scotch religion, and Scotch manners, 
is often a harsh, a sordid, a repulsive world ; even the world of 
his Cotter's Saturday Night is not a beautiful world. No doubt 
a poet's criticism of life may have such truth and power that it 
triumphs over its world and delights us. Burns may triumph 
over his world, often he does triumph over his world, but let us 
observe how and where. Burns is the first case we have had 
where the bias of the personal estimate tends to mislead ; let us 
look at him closely, he can bear it. 

Many of his admirers will tell us that we have Burns, con- 
vivial, genuine, delightful, here : — 



xlii THE ENGLISH POETS. 



' Leeze me on drink ! it gies us mair 

Than either school or college; 
It kindles wit, it waukens lair, 

It pangs us fou o' knowledge. 
Be 't whisky gill or penny wheep 

Or ony stronger potion, 
It never fails, on drinking deep. 
To kittle up our notion 

By night or day.' 

There is a great deal of that sort of thing in Burns, and it is 
unsatisfactory, not because it is bacchanalian poetry, but because 
it has not that accent of sincerity which bacchanalian poetry, 
to do it justice, very often has. There is something in it of 
bravado, something which makes us feel that we have not 
the man speaking to us with his real voice; something, there- 
fore, poetically unsound. 

With still more confidence will his admirers tell us that we 
have the genuine Burns, the great poet, when his strain asserts 
the independence, equality, dignity, of men, as in the famous 
song For a that and a that : — 

' A prince can mak' a belted knight, 
A marquis, duke, and a' that; 
But an honest man's aboon his might, 
Guid faith he mauna fa' that ! 
For a' that, and a' that, 

Their dignities, and a' that, 
The pith o' sense, and pride o' worth. 
Are higher rank than a' that.' 

Here they find his grand, genuine touches ; and still more, when 
this puissant genius, who so often set morality at defiance, falls 
moralising : — 

' The sacred lowe o' weel-placed love 
Luxuriantly indulge it; 
But never tempt th' illicit rove, 
The' naething should divulge it. 



INTRODUCTION. xliii 



I waive the quantum o' the sin, 

The hazard o' concealing, 
But och ! it hardens a' within, 

And petrifies the feeling.' 

Or in a higher strain : — 

* Who made the heart, 'tis He alone 

Decidedly can try us ; 
He knows each chord, its various tone; 

Each spring, its various bias. 
Then at the balance let's be mute, 

We never can adjust it ; 
What's done we partly may compute. 

But know not what's resisted.' 

Or in a better strain yet, a strain, his admirers will say, unsur- 
passable : — 

' To make a happy fire-side clime 
To weans and wife. 
That's the true pathos and sublime 
Of human life.' 

There is criticism of life for you, the admirers of Burns will 
say to us; there is the application of ideas to life! There 
is, undoubtedly. The doctrine of the last-quoted lines coincides 
almost exactly with what was the aim and end, Xenophon 
tells us, of all the teaching of Socrates. And the application 
is a powerful one ; made by a man of vigorous understanding, 
and (need I say ?) a master of language. 

But for supreme poetical success more is required than the 
powerful application of ideas to life ; it must be an application 
under the conditions fixed by the laws of poetic truth and 
poetic beauty. Those laws fix as an essential condition, in the 
poet's treatment of such matters as are here in question, high 
seriousness ; — the high seriousness which comes from absolute 
sincerity. The accent of high seriousness, born of absolute 
sincerity, is what gives to such verse as 

' In la sua volontade h. nostra pace , . .' 



xliv THE ENGLISH POETS. 

to such criticism of life as Dante's, its power. Is this accent 
felt in the passages which I have been quoting from Burns ? 
Surely not ; surely, if our sense is quick, we must perceive that 
we have not in those passages a voice from the very inmost soul 
of the genuine Burns ; he is not speaking to us from these 
depths, he is more or less preaching. And the compensation 
for admiring such passages less, from missing the perfect poetic 
accent in them, will be that we shall admire more the poetry 
where that accent is found. 

No; Burns, like Chaucer, comes short of the high seriousness 
of the great classics, and the virtue of matter and manner which 
goes with that high seriousness is wanting to his work. At 
moments he touches it in a profound and passionate melan- 
choly, as in those four immortal lines taken by Byron as a 
motto for The Giaour, but which have in them a depth of poetic 
quality such as resides in no verse of Byron's own : — 

' Had we never loved sae kindly, 
Had we never loved sae blindly, 
Never met, or never parted. 
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.' 

But a whole poem of that quality Burns cannot make ; the rest, 
in the Farewell to Nancy, is verbiage. 

We arrive best at the real estimate of Burns, I think, by con- 
ceiving his work as having truth of matter and truth of manner, 
but not the accent or the poetic virtue of the highest masters. 
His genuine criticism of life, when the sheer poet in him speaks, 
is ironic; it is not: 

' Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme 
These woes of mine fulfil, 
Here firm I rest, they must be best 
Because they are Thy will!' 

It is far rather : Whistle owre the lave oil Yet we may say of him 

as of Chaucer, that of life and the world, as they come before him, 



INTRODUCTION. xlv 



his view is large, free, shrewd, benignant, — truly poetic, there- 
fore ; and his manner of rendering what he sees is to match. 
But we must note, at the same time, his great di (Terence from 
Chaucer. The freedom of Chaucer is heightened, in Burns, by 
a fiery, reckless energy ; the benignity of Chaucer deepens, in 
Burns, into an overwhelming sense of the pathos of things ; — of 
the pathos of human nature, ihe pathos, also, of non-human 
nature. Instead of the fluidity of Chaucer's manner, the manner 
of Burns has spring, bounding swiftness. Burns is by far the 
greater force, though he has perhaps less charm. The world of 
Chaucer is fairer, richer, more significant than that of Burns ; 
but when the largeness and freedom of Burns get full sweep, as 
in Tarn o' Shan/er, or still more in that puissant and splendid 
production, The Jolly Beggars, his world may be what it will, 
his poetic genius triumphs over it. In the world of the Jolly 
Beggars there is more than hideousness and squalor, there 
is bestiality ; yet the piece is a superb poetic success. It has 
a breadth, truth, and power which make the famous scene in 
Auerbach's Cellar, of Goethe's Faust, seem artificial and tame 
beside it, and which are only matched by Shakespeare and 
Aristophanes. 

Here, where his largeness and freedom serve him so admi- 
rably, and also in those poems and songs, where to shrewdness 
he adds infinite archness and wit, and to benignity infinite 
pathos, where his manner is flawless, ard a perfect poetic whole 
is the result, — in things like the address to the IMouse whose 
home he had ruined, in things like Duncan Gray, Tarn Glen, 
Whistle arid Til come to you, my lad, Auld lang syne (the list might 
be made much longer), — here we have the genuine Burns, of 
whom the real estimate must be high indeed. Not a classic, 
nor with the excellent o-77ov5aiorr;r of the great classics, nor with 
a verse rising to a criticism of life and a virtue like theirs; 



xlvi . THE ENGLISH POETS. 

but a poet with thorough truth of substance and an answer- 
ing truth of style, giving us a poetry sound to the core. We 
all of us have a leaning towards the pathetic, and may be 
inclined perhaps to prize Burns most for his touches of piercing, 
sometimes almost intolerable, pathos ; for verse like : 

' We twa hae paidl't i' the bum 
From momin' sun till dine; 
But seas between us braid hae roai'd 
Sin auld lang syne . . .' 

where he is as lovely as he is sound. But perhaps it is by the 
perfection of soundness of his lighter and archer master-pieces 
that he is poetically most wholesome for us. For the votary 
misled by a personal estimate of Shelley, as so many of us have 
been, are, and will be, — of that beautiful spirit building his 
many- coloured haze of words and images 

' Pinnacled dim in the intense inane ' — 

no contact can be wholesomer than the contact with Burns at 
his archest and soundest. Side by side with the 

' On the brink of the night and the morning 
My coursers are wont to respire, 
But the Earth has just whispered a warning 
That their flight must be swifter than fire . . .' 

of Prometheus Unbound, how salutary, how very salutary, to 

place this from Tarn Glen : — 

' My minnie does constantly dcavc me 
And bids me beware o' young men; 
They flatter, she says, to deceive me ; 
But wha can think sac o' Tam Glen?' 

But we enter on burning ground as we approach the poetry 
of times so near to us, poetry like that of Byron, Shelley, and 
Wordsworth, of which the estimates are so often not only per- 
sonal, but personal with passion. For my purpose, it is enough 



IXTRODUCTION. xlvii 



to have taken the single case of Burns, the first poet we come 
to of whose work the estimate formed is evidently apt to be 
personal, and to have suggested how we may proceed, using 
the poetry of the great classics as a sort of touchstone, to 
correct this estimate, as we had previously corrected by the 
same means the historic estimate where we met with it. A 
collection like the present, with its succession of celebrated 
names and celebrated poems, offers a good opportunity to us 
for resolutely endeavouring to make our estimates of poetry 
real. I have sought to point out a method which will help 
us in making them so, and to exhibit it in use so far as to 
put any one who likes in a way of applying it for himself. 

At any rate the end to which the method and the estimate are 
designed to lead, and from leading to which, if they do lead to 
it, they get their whole value, — the benefit of being able clearly 
to feel and deeply to enjoy the best, the truly classic, in poetry, — 
is an end, let me say it once more at parting, of supreme im- 
portance. We are often told that an era is opening in which 
we are to see multitudes of a common sort of readers, and 
masses of a common sort of literature ; that such readers do not 
want and could not relish anything better than such literature, 
and that to provide it is becoming a vast and profitable industry. 
Even if good literature entirely lost currency with the world, it 
would still be abundantly worth while to continue to enjoy it by 
oneself. But it never will lose currency with the world, in spite 
of momentary appearances ; it never will lose supremacy. Cur- 
rency and supremacy are insured to it, not indeed by the 
world's deliberate and conscious choice, but by something far 
deeper, — by the instinct of self-preservation in humanity. 

IM.vTTHEw Arnold. 



CHAUCER. 



[Geoffrey Chaucer, bom in London probably about 1340, died at West- 
minster in 1400. He was the son of a vintner ; was page in Prince Lionel's 
household, served in the army, was taken prisoner in France. He was 
afterwards valet and squire to Edward III, and went as king's commissioner 
to Italy in 1372, and later. He was Controller of the Customs in the port 
of London from 1381 to 1386, was M. P. for Kent in 13S6, Clerk of the 
King's Works at Windsor in 1389, and died poor. Mr. Fumivall divides, 
his poetical history into four periods: (i) up to 1371, including the early 
poems, viz the A. B. C, the Compleynte to Pile, the Boke of the Dtichesse, and 
the Compleynte of Mars ; (2) from 1372 to 1381, including the Troyliis and 
Criseyde, Anelida, and the Former Age; (3) the best period, from 1381 to 
1389, including the Parlement of Foides, the Hous of Fame, the Legende of 
Goode Women, and the chief of the Canterbury Tales ; (4) from 1390 to 1400, 
including the latest Canterbury Tales, and the Ballades and Poems of Reflec- 
tion and later age, of which the last few, like the Steadfastness, show failing 
power.] 

It is natural that a book which aims at including the best that 
has been done in English verse should begin with Chaucer, to 
whom no one has ever seriously denied the name which Dryden 
gave him, of the Father of English poetry. The poems of an 
earlier date, the Brut and the Ormithiin, the Romances and the 
Homilies, have indeed an interest of their own ; but it is a purely 
antiquarian interest, and even under that aspect it does not exist 
for the reader of Chaucer, who cannot in any sense be said to have 
been inspired by them. English poetry, distinguished on the one 
hand from the ' rym dogerel' of the romancers, which is not poetry, 
and on the other from Beowulf, which is poetry but not, in the 
ordinary sense, Enghsh, begins in the reign of Edward III, with 
Chaucer and his lesser contemporaries. In them we see at a 

VOL. I. B 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



glance that the step has been taken which separates the rhymer 
from the poet, the ' maker,' who has something new to say, and 
has found the art of saying it beautifully. The poet, says an 
Elizabethan critic, ' can express the true and lively of everything 
which is set before him, and which he taketh in hand to describe' — 
words that exactly meet Chaucer's case, and draw the line between 
himself and his predecessors. In the half century before Chaucer 
there had indeed been isolated poems — a lyric or two of real 
freshness and beauty — but not till that time of heightened national 
life, of wider culture, and of more harmonised society into which 
he was born, was there a sufficiency either of ideas or of accessible 
poetical material on English ground to shape and furnish an 
imaginative development like his. To him first among the writers 
of English it was given to catch and to express ' the true and 
lively 'throughout a broad life of human range and feeling. Before 
him there had been stoiy-telling, there had been stray notes of 
poetry : but in Chaucer England brought forth her first poet, as 
modern times count poetry ; her first skilled and conscious work- 
man, who, coming in upon the stores of natural fact open to all 
alike, was enabled to communicate to whatever he touched that 
colour, that force, that distinction, in virtue of which common life 
and common feelings turn to poetry. And having found her poet, 
she did not fail to recognise him. Very soon, as Gower's 'Venus' 
says of him in the often-quoted lines, 

' Of dites and of songes glad 
The whiche he for my sake made 
The land fulfilled is over al.' 

The themes of his books run glibly from the tongue of his own 
'Sergeaunt of Lawe,' like matter familiar to all. His literary 
contemporaries felt and confessed in him the Poet's mysterious 
gifts, and his height above themselves. The best English 
poetical opinion, in the mouth of Spenser, Sidney, Milton, Dry- 
den, has continuously acknowledged him ; while the more our 
later world turns back to him, and learns to read and under- 
stand him, the stronger grows his claim in even our critical 
modern eyes, not only to the antiquarian charm of the story- 
teller and the ' translateur,' but to the influence and honours of 
the poet. 

Chaucer then is for us the first English poet, and as such has all 
the interest that attaches to a great original figure. But he makes 



CHAUCER. 



no parade of his originality ; on the contrary, Hke all medieval 
writers, he translates, and borrows, and is anxious to reveal his 
authorities, lest he should be thought to be palming off mere frivolous 
inventions of his own. Other men's work is to him an ever open 
storehouse to be freely used, now for foundation, now for ornament. 
Hence with a wTiter like Chaucer the examination of his sources is 
at once more possible and more fruitful than is the case with a 
later poet. We know that every writer is in a great measure the 
creation of the books he has read and the times he has lived in ; 
but with a modem writer, or one like Virgil, it is impossible to 
disengage these influences with any real success. Not so with 
Chaucer and the poets of a young, unformed civilisation ; they 
bear on their foreheads the traces of their origin. They reflect 
simply and readily the influence of the moment ; happiness or 
sorrow, success or failure, this book or that — each has its instant 
effect on their work, so that it becomes a matter of real importance 
for him who would appreciate an early poet to know what he read 
and how he lived. Accordingly, from very early times, from the 
time of Stowe, Speght, and the Thynnes, those who have cared for 
Chaucer have shown a curiosity about the influences that formed him. 
A century ago, Tyrwhitt did as much as one man could to set the 
study of these influences on a sound footing, and in our own day the 
labours of the Chaucer Society and of Professor Ten Brink and other 
Germans have furnished us with a nearly complete apparatus for 
conducting it. With infinite industry, such as is sho\vn in Mr. 
Furnivall's Six-Text edition of the poet, they have given us what 
materials exist for settling Chaucer's text ; they have separated, on 
evidence both internal and derived from the circumstances of his 
life and times, his genuine work from the spurious pieces that 
tradition had thrust upon him ; and they have skilfully tracked his 
poems to their sources. On ground so prepared we may tread 
firmly, and even in a short sketch like the present, which attempts 
no more than to present results that are generally agreed upon, it 
is possible to speak with some approach to certainty. 

Chaucer was a great reader, and in more than one well-known 
passage he tells us what he felt for books. 

' On bookes for to rede I me delyte, 
And to hem yive I feyth and ful credence,' 

he says, in the prologue to the Legende of Goode Women. Books 
arc to him the soil from which knowledge springs : — 

B 2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



' For out of olde feldes, as men saith, 
Cometh al this newe com from yeer to yere, 
And out of olde bokes, in good faith, 
Cometh al this newe science that men lere.' 

He reads 'the longe day ful fast' ; and it is no vain fancy which 
would discover in the book-loving ' Gierke of Oxenford' some traits 
that the poet has transferred from his own character. He knew 
Latin, French, and Italian, and was familiar with the best that had 
been written in those languages. His Latin studies included 
Boethius, whose book De Cotisolatione Philosophiae he translated 
into English ; Macrobius, as far as the Somnium Scipiotiis is con- 
cerned ; Livy and others of the great Roman prose writers, and 
many of the poets, ' Ovide, Lucan, Stace,' with Virgil and probably 
Claudian. But it must be remembered that he read Latin not as 
we read it, but as we read a modern foreign language, rapidly rather 
than exactly, with more desire to come by a rough and ready way 
to the sense than to be clear about the structure of the sentences. 
He cared very little either for grammar or for prosody ; he talks of 
^neas and Anchises, and some would believe that he makes of 
LoUius, the correspondent of Horace, ' myn auctour Lollius,' a 
historian of the Trojan war.-^ In the same way, of the historical 
study of Latin literature, of the conscious attempt to realise the 
life of classical times, there is no trace in Chaucer. His favourite 
Latin writers were unquestionably Boethius and Ovid, as they 
were the favourites of the middle ages in general ; Boethius, of 
whom a recent editor has counted nineteen imitations before the 
end of the fifteenth century, and Ovid, whose Ars Amaiidi and 
Metamorphoses were the storehouse of the mediceval love-poet 
and story-teller. Nothing, on the other hand, shows more clearly 
the limitations of Chaucer's genius than his attitude towards Virgil. 

* Horace to Lollius, Epp. i. 2. i — 

' Trojani belli scriptorcm, maxime Lolli, 
Dum tu declamas Romae, Praeneste relegi.' 
Dr. Latham supposes that Chaucer mistook the name of the person ad- 
dressed for the historian, and Prof. Ten Brink suggests that he read — 
' Trojani belli scriptor?/;« maxime, Lolli, 
Dum lu declamas Romac, Praeneste le legi.' 
The false quantity would be no argument against this ingenious suppo- 
sition ; but what is more to the point is that the context shows Horace to 
be writing about a tiiird person. Besides, it is not certain that Chaucer 
had read Horace. 



CHA UCER. 



No 'long study and great love' had made him search the volume 
of that 'honour and light of other poets' as Dante was made to 
search it ; on the contrary, he prefers the romantic exaggerations 
of Statius, and it is for the rhetorical Lucan that he reserves the 
epithet of 'the gret poete.' Among the Good Women of the 
Legende comes Dido, it is true, and her story is taken more from 
the ^neid than from the Heroides. But what a change has 
passed over the tale since the religious Roman, charged with the 
sense of destiny, called away his hero from the embraces of the 
love-lorn queen to the work of founding the empire of the world ! 

' The fresshe lady, of the citee queene, 
Stood in the temple, in her estat royalle. 
So richely, and eke so faire withalle, 
So yong, so lusty, with her eighen glade, 
That yf the God that heven and erthe made 
"Wolde han a love, for beaute and goodnesse, 
And womanhode, and trouthe, and seml}Tiesse, 
Whom sholde he loven but this lady swete? 
Ther nys no woman to him half so mete.' 

Such is Dido ; while the grave Trojan, for whom in Virgil the 
gods are contending, becomes in Chaucer's hands a m_ere vulgar 
deceiver, a ' grete gentilman ' indeed to outward seeming, that has 
the gifts of pleasing, and can 

' Wei doon al his obeysaunce 
To hire at festeynges and at daunce,' 

but hollow at heart, false in his oaths and in his tears ; in a word, 
a cool, unscrupulous seeker of bonnes forttines. And again, at the 
central point of all, what has become of the 'conscious heaven' 
and ' pronuba Juno' ? 

' For ther hath j^neas yknyled soo, 
And tolde her al his herte and al his woo ; 
And sworn so depe to hire to be trewe 
For wele or woo, and chaunge for noo newe. 
And as a fals lover so wel kan pleyne 
That sely Dido rewed on his peyne, 
And toke him for housbonde, and was his wife 
For evermor, whil that hem laste lyfe.' 

Chaucer, in fact, is purely mediaeval in his rendering of antiquity, 
and among the ancient writers he turns with the greatest sympathy 
to those in whom the romantic clement is strongest. The spirit 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



of the Renascence is stirring within him, but it is not in his 
relation to the ancients that we detect it ; it is rather in his 
'humanism' — in his openness of mind, in his fresh delight in 
visible and sensible things, in his sense of the variety of human 
character and motive, and of the pity of human fate. 

French poetry plays a far larger part in Chaucer's work than do 
the classical writers. Whether or not his name implies that he 
was partly French in blood, he certainly spent some time in 
France, first as a prisoner of war (a.d. 1359) and afterwards on the 
king's business. He began life as a page in the household of the 
Duke of Clarence, where French was no doubt spoken as much as 
English ; and his attention was early drawn to that trouvfere- 
literature which in the days of his youth formed the chief reading 
of the court circles. In point of fact, all his writings up to 1372 
(the date of his first visit to Italy) are either translations or 
imitations, more or less close, of French poems ; and even after he 
had returned, impressed with the ineffaceable charm of Italy, he 
still looked to France for much of his material. One of his 
earliest and one of his very latest poems, the A. B. C. and the 
Compleynte of Venus, are translations from De Deguileville and 
Gransson ; the Boke of the Duchesse derives much from a poem 
of Machault ; the Ballads and Roundels, of which a few remain 
to us, probably out of very many, are French in form ; and it is 
in a poem of Eustache Deschamps that we find what appears 
to be the first model of the ten-syllabled rhyming couplet which 
Chaucer made his own, and which has since become one of the 
most distinctive forms of English verse. The comic stories in the 
Canterbury Tales are mostly based on the fabliaux, a department 
of literature which has always seemed to belong pre-eminently to 
the countrymen of la Fontaine. But among French poems, that 
which made the deepest mark on him was the ' Roman de la 
Rose,' the first and principal specimen of what M. Sandras, Chau- 
cer's French critic, has happily called the psychological epic. 
This poem, as is well known, was begun by Guillaume de Lorris 
under Louis IX, and continued at immense length by Jean de 
Meung forty years later, under Philip the Fair ; the former poet's 
work being an elaborate and thrice-refined love allegoiy, and that 
of the latter being a fierce satire against all that the Middle Age 
was accustomed to reverence — women, nobles, priests. The two 
parts of the poem, however, agreed in form ; that is, they sub- 
stituted for the heroic romances of the preceding centuries those 



CHAUCER. 



allegorical abstractions, those ' indirect crook'd ways,' with which 
scholasticism had infected European thought. L'Amant, in his 
search for the Rose of Beauty, Ddduit, Papelardie, I'Oiseuse, 
Faux-Semblant, are, as a French critic puts it, ' members of the 
family of Entities and Quiddities that were born to the realist 
doctors.' The vogue of the 'Roman' was immense, and Chaucer, 
that ' grant translateur,' translated it, as the Prologue to the 
Legefide bears witness, and as Lydgate also affirms in his cata- 
logue of the master's works. The most recent critics, with Mr. 
Bradshaw and Professor Ten Brink at their head, have indeed 
denied Chaucer's claim to that version of the Roinaunt which till 
lately has always passed for his ; and in obedience to their opinion 
we have separated from the body of Chaucer's acknowledged 
writings the passage of that poem that we are able to quote ; but 
the question is one which, as far as Chaucer's debt to French 
literature is concerned, is of little importance. Translate the 
Ro7naunt he certainly did, and the impression it made upon him 
was deep and lasting. On the one hand it furnished him with 
a whole allegorical mytholog)', as well as with his stock landscape, 
his stock device of the Dream, and even (we may at least imagine) 
confirmed him in the choice of the flowing eight-syllabled couplet 
for the Hous of Fame ; and on the other, it furnished him with 
those weapons of satire which he used with such effect in the 
Pardoners prologue and elsewhere. 

Twenty years ago a vigorous attempt was made in M. Sandras' 
itude sur Chaucer to show that the English poet, though a man 
of original genius, was in point of matter, from first to last, an 
imitator of the trouveres. A more rational criticism has since 
then put the case in a truer light, and shown not only the bold 
independence of his models which Chaucer exhibited from the 
beginning, but the fact that it was only in early life that he got his 
chief models from France. The great event of his life was 
undoubtedly his first Italian journey, during which, if we are to 
trust an old tradition that has never been disproved, he met 
Petrarch at Padua. From this time onward he ^vrote with a 
firmer pen and with a closer adherence to truth, and the foreign 
examples that he henceforth followed were not French but Italian, 
not Guillaume de Lorris and Machault, but Dante, Boccaccio, and, 
to a certain extent, Petrarch. He does not, it is true, altogether 
depart from his old methods ; the dream of the Romaunt re- 
appears in the Parlcment and in the Hous of Fame \ the May 



8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

morning and the daisy introduce the Legende. But there is no 
comparison between the workmanship of the two periods, and 
whereas that of the first is loose and disjointed, that of the 
second — except perhaps in the case of the Hous of Fame, which 
is more than half comic, a sort of travesty of the Divina Corn- 
media, and therefore not to be judged by strict rules — that of the 
second is compact, well-ordered, and guided by the true artist's 
mastery over his materials. Italy in fact gave to Chaucer at 
precisely the right moment just that stimulus and that external 
standard which he required for the true completion of his work ; 
and rendered him in its own way the same service that the study 
of Greek rendered to Europe in general a century later. His debt 
to Italy was both direct and indirect. From Dante, whose genius 
was so wholly unlike his own, he took a great number of isolated 
passages (the Troyhts and the Parlefiient especially are full of 
reminiscences of the great Florentine) ; and he took also, as we 
said, the hint for the Hotis of Fame, that most notable burlesque 
poem, where the serious meaning lies so near to the humorous 
outside. From Petrarch, 

' Whos rethoryke sweete 
Enlnmined al Itaille of poetrj-e,' 

he took, besides minor borrowings, the Clerkes Tale, almost 
exactly translating it from the laureate's Latin rendering of Boc- 
caccio's story. From Boccaccio, whom by a strange irony of 
literary fortune he seems not to have known by name, he freely 
translated his two longest and, in a sense, greatest poems, Troylus 
and Criseyde and The Knightes Tale ; and it is possible, though 
by no means certain, that the framework of the Canterbury Tales 
was suggested by the Decameron. But more important than this 
direct debt was what he indirectly owed to these great writers. 
He first learnt from them the art of constructing a story, that art 
which, as he afterwards developed it, has made of him unquestion- 
ably our chief narrative poet. It was from them — for, strange to 
say, he had read Virgil without learning it — that he first learnt the 
necessity of self-criticism ; of that severe process, so foreign to the 
mediaeval mind, which deliberates, sifts, tests, rejects, and alters, 
before a work is sent out into the world. 

So much for Chaucer's books and their effect on him. Were 
there however no more in him than what his books put into him, 
he would be of no greater importance to us than Gower or 
Lydgate. It takes more than learning, more than a gift for 



CHAUCER. 



selection and adaptation, to make a poet. Those intimate verses 
which we have quoted from the Legende themselves, proceed to 
tell us of a passion which is stronger in him than the passion for 
reading. ' I reverence my books,' he says, 

'So hertely that there is game noon 
That fro my bokes maketh me to goon 
But yt be seldom on the holy day, 
Save certeynly whan that the moneth of May 
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge, 
And that the floures gynnen for to springe, 
Farewel my boke, and my devocioun ! ' 

What he here calls May, with its birds and flowers, really means 
Nature as a whole ; not external nature only, but the world with 
its rich variety of sights and sounds and situations, especially its 
most varied product, Man. As to his feeling for external nature, 
indeed, it might be called limited ; it is only to the birds and the 
flowers, the ' schowres swote ' and the other genial gifts of spring 
that it seems to extend. Not only is there no trace in him of 
that 'religion of Nature' which is so powerful a factor in modern 
poetry, but there is nothing that in the least resembles those 
elaborate backgrounds in which the genius of Spenser takes such 
delight. Nay, in the poet to whom we owe the immortal group 
of pilgrims, there is little even of that minute local observation 
of places and their features, that memory for the grave-covered 
plains of Aries or the shattered banks of the Adige, which made 
a part of Dante's genius, and gives such vividness to the phantom 
landscape of his poem. While the Inferno has been mapped out 
for centuries, it is only to-day, after long discussion, that our 
scholars are able to make a map of the pilgrimage to Canterbury. 
But although the distinctive sense of landscape is for the most 
part absent, how keen is the poet's eye for colour, for effective 
detail ! Who but Chaucer, while avoiding altogether the inven- 
tory style of the ordinary romancer, a style on which he himself 
poured ridicule in his Sir Thopas, could have brought such 
a glittering barbaric presence before us as this of the King of 
Inde ?— 

* The gret Emetrius, the King of Inde, 

Upon a stede bay trapped in stele 

Covered with cloth of gold diapred wele. 

Came riding . like the god of armes, Mars. 

His cote-armure was of a cloth of Tars 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Couched with perles white and round and grete j 

His sadel was of brent gold new ybete ; 

His mantelet upon his shouldre hanging 

Bret-ful of rubies red as fyr sparkling ; 

His crispe heer like ringes was yronne, 

And that was yelwe and glitered as the Sonne . . . 

And as a leon he his looking' cast.' 

Or such a sketch in black and white as this first glimpse of 
Creseide ? — 

' Among these other foike was Creseide 

In widowes habit blak: but natheles 

Right as our firste lettre is now an A 

In beautee first so stood she makeles*; 

Her goodly looking gladed all the prees'. 

Nas never seen thing to be praised derre, 

Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre. 

As was Creseide, they sayden everichone 

That her behelden in her blakke wede.' 

Or such an intense and concentrated piece of colour as his 
Chanticlere ? — 

' His comb was redder than the fyn coral 
And batayled as it were a castel wal ; 
His bil was blak and as the geet •* it schon ; 
Like asure were his legges and his ton * ; 
His nayles whiter than the lily flour, 
And like the burnischt gold was his colour.' 

As for the world of man and human character, it is here 
admittedly that Chaucer's triumphs have been greatest. In this 
respect his fame is so well established that there is little need to 
dwell on qualities with which he makes his first and deepest 
impression, and which moreover will be abundantly illlustrated by 
the extracts which follow. In his treatment of external nature, there 
are limits beyond which Chaucer cannot go — the limits of his time, 
of a more certain, a more easily satisfied age than ours. But in 
his sympathy with man, with human action and human feeling, 
his range is very great and his handling infinitely varied. The 
popular opinion of centuries has fixed upon the Prologue to the 
Canterbury Talcs as his masterpiece, because it is there that this 
dramatic power of his, this realistic gift which can grasp at will 

' without mate or peer, '■' crowd. ' jet. * toes. 



CHAUCER. 



almost any phase of character or incident, noble or trivial, pas- 
sionate or grotesque, finds its fullest scope. Other fourteenth- 
century writers can tell a story (though none indeed so well as he), 
can be tragic, pathetic, amusing ; but none else of that day can 
bring the actual world of men and women before us with the move- 
ment of a Florentine procession-picture and with a colour and a 
truth of detail that anticipate the great Dutch masters of painting. 
To pass from the framework of other mediaeval collections, even 
from the villa and gardens of the Dccatneron, to Chaucer's group 
of pilgrims, is to pass from convention to reality. To reality ; for, 
as Dryden says in that Preface which shows how high he stood 
above the critical level of his age, in the Prologue 'we have our 
forefathers and great-grandames all before us, as they were in 
Chaucer's days ; their general characters are still remaining in 
mankind, and even in England, though they are called by other 
names than those of Monks and Friars, and Canons, and Lady 
Abbesses, and Nuns : for mankind is ever the same, and nothing 
lost out of nature, though everything is altered.' 

It is not enough for a poet to observe, however : what he 
observes must first be transformed by feeling before it can become 
matter for poetry. What distinguishes Chaucer is that he not 
only observes truly and feels keenly, but that he keeps his feeling 
fresh and unspoiled by his knowledge of books and of affairs. As 
the times went he was really learned, and he passed a varied 
active existence in the Court, in the London custom-house, and in 
foreign missions on the king's service. From his life his poetry 
only gained ; the Knight, the Friar, the Shipman — nay, even young 
Troylus and Constance and ' Emilye the schene,' — are what they 
are by virtue of his experience of actual human beings. But it is 
even more notable that the study of books, in an age when study 
so often led to pedantry^, left him as free and human as it found 
him ; and that his joy in other men's poetry, and his wish to 
reproduce it for his countrymen, still gave way to the desire to 
render it more beautiful and more true. Translator and imitator 
as he was, what strikes us in his work from the very earliest date 
is his independence of his models. Even when he wrote the Boke 
of the Duchcsse, at a time when he was a mere novice in literature, 
he could rise and did rise above his material, so that one enthu- 
siastic Chaucerian, in his desire to repel M. Sandras' charge of 
' imitation servile,' flatly refuses to believe that Chaucer ever read 
Machault's ' Dit ' at all. This indeed is too patriotic criticism ; but 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



it is certainly true to say that Chaucer worked up Machault and 
Ovid in this poem, as he worked up his French and ItaHan 
materials generally, so as thoroughly to subordinate them to his 
own purpose. The most striking instance of this free treatment of 
his model is, of course, his rendering of the Troyhis and the 
Knightes Tale from Boccaccio. The story of Palamon and Arcite 
possessed a great fascination for Chaucer, and it seems certain 
that he wrote it twice, in two quite distinct forms. With the 
earlier, in stanzas, which has perished except for what he has 
embodied in one or two other writings, we are not concerned ; but 
it is open to any one to compare the Knightes Tale, in the final 
shape in which Chaucer's mature hand has left it to us, with the 
immense romantic epic of Boccaccio. Tyrwhitt's blunt common- 
sense long since pointed out the ethical inferiority of the Teseide ; 
and we may point in the same way to the judgment that Chaucer 
has shown in stripping off episodes, in retrenching Boccaccio's 
mythological exuberance, in avoiding frigid personifications, and in 
heightening the interest of the end by the touches which he adds 
in his magnificent description of the Temple of Mars. In the 
' Troylus ' the difference between the two poets is even deeper, for 
it is a difference as much moral as artistic. Compare those young 
Florentine worldlings — for such they are — Troilo and Pandaro, 
with the boyish, single-minded, enthusiastic, pitiable Troylus, and 
his older friend who stands by to check his passionate excesses 
with a proverb and again a proverb, like Sancho by the side of the 
Knight of la Mancha ; worldly experience controlling romance ! 
Compare Griseida, that light-o'-love, that heroine of the Decaineron, 
with the fragile, tender-hearted and remorseful Cryseyde, who 
yields through sheer weakness to the pleading and the sorrow of 
' this sodcyn Diomede ' as she has yielded to her Trojan lover ! 

' Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde 
Farther than the storie wol devyse ; 
Hire name, alias ! is published so wyde, 
That for hire giltc it ought ynough suffise; 
And if I mighte excuse her any wyse, 
For she so sory was for her luitrouthe, 
Ywis I wolde excuse hire yet for routhe.' 

' Routhe ' indeed, pity for inevitable sorrow, is a note of Chaucer's 
mind which for ever distinguishes him from Boccaccio, and marks 
him out as the true forerunner of the poet of Hamlet and Othello. 



CHAUCER. 13 



To him the world and human character are no simple things, nor 
are actions to be judged as the fruit of one motive alone. Who 
can wonder if, possessed with this new sense of the complexity of 
human destiny, he should sometimes have failed to render it with 
the clearness of an artist dealing with a simpler theme ? Those 
critics are probably right who pronounce the Troylus inferior to 
the Filostrato in point of literary form ; but their criticism, to be 
complete, should add that it is far more interesting in the history 
of poetry. 

The first of a poet's gifts is to feel ; the second is to express. 
Chaucer possesses this second gift as abundantly as he possesses 
the first. The point which contemporary and later poets almost 
invariably note in him is, not his power of telling a story, not his 
tragedy, his humour, or his character-drawing, but his language. 
To Lydgate he is 

'The noble rethor poete of Britayne;' 
his great achievement has been 

' Out of our tongue to avoyde all rudenesse. 
And to reform it with colours of swetenesse.' 

To Occleve he was ' the floure of eloquence,' 

' The firste fynder of our faire langage.' 

Dunbar, at the end of the fifteenth century, speaks of his ' fresh 
enamel'd termes celical' ; and long afterwards Spenser gave him 
the immortal epithet of ' the well of English undefiled.' Chaucer, 
like Dante, had the rare fortune of coming in upon an unformed 
language, and, so far as one man could, of forming it. He grew 
up among the last generation in England that used French as an 
official tongue. It was in 1362, when Chaucer was just entering 
manhood, that the session of the House of Commons was first 
opened with an EngHsh speech. Hence it is easy to see the 
hollowness of the charge, so often brought against him since 
Verstegan first made it, that ' he was a great mingler of English 
with French.' that ' he corrupted our language with French words.' 
Tyrwhitt long since refuted this charge ; and if it wanted further 
refutation, we might point to Piers Plowinan^s Visioti., the work 
of a poet of the people, written for the people in their own 
speech, but containing a greater proportion of French words than 
Chaucer's writings contain. And yet Chaucer is a courtier, a 
Londoner, perhaps partly French by extraction ; above all, he is 



14- THE ENGLISH POETS. 

a translator, and some influence from the language he is translating 
passes into his own verse. The truth is that in his hands for the 
first time our language appears as it is ; in structure of course 
purely Germanic, but rich, assimilative, bold in its borrowings, 
adopting and adapting at its pleasure any words of any language 
that might come in its way. How Chaucer used this noble instru- 
ment is not to be demonstrated ; it is to be felt. De sensibus non 
est disputandi0n ; it is vain to discuss matters of personal experience, 
to point to qualities in a poet's verse which must really be judged 
by the individual ear. Otherwise we might dwell on Chaucer's 
use of his metre, which varies in such subtle response to his 
subject and his mood ; or on his skill in rhyming, though, as he 
says, ' ryme in Englisch hath such skarsete ' ; or on the ' linked 
sweetness' of the love-passages in the Troylus ; or on the grandeur 
of his tragic descriptions, where the sound gives so solemn an 
echo to the sense : — 

' First on the wal was peynted a forest, 
In which ther dwelleth neither man ne best, 
With knotty knarry bareyne trees olde 
Of stubbes scharpe and hidous to byholde 
In which ther ran a swymbel in a swough.' 

These qualities come into view at a first reading of Chaucer; 
and why should the pleasure to be gained from them be kept for 
the few ? ' How few there are who can read Chaucer so as to 
understand him perfectly,' says Dryden, apologising for 'trans- 
lating' him. In our day, with the wider spread of historical study, 
with the numerous helps to old English that the care of scholars 
has produced for us, with the purification that Chaucer's text has 
undergone, this saying of Dryden's ought not to be true. It ought 
to be not only possible, but easy, for an educated reader to learn 
the few essentials of Chaucerian grammar, and for an ear at all 
trained to poetry to tune itself to the unfamiliar harmonies. For 
those who make the attempt the reward is certain. They will gain 
the knowledge, not only of the great poet and creative genius that 
these pages have endeavoured to sketch, but of the master who 
uses our language with a power, a freedom, a variety, a rhythmic 
beauty, that, in five centuries, not ten of his successors have been 
found able to rival. 

Editor. 



CHAUCER. 15 



The Boke of the Duchesse. 

[The following passage is given as a specimen of Chaucer's earliest or 
French period. The date is 1369.] 

Me thoghte thus, that hyt was May, 
And in the dawnynge, ther I lay, 
Me mette^ thus in my bed al naked, 
And loked forth, for I was waked 
With smale foules, a grete hepe, 
That had afrayed me out of slepe, 
Thorgh noyse and swetnesse of her songe. 
And as me mette, they sate amonge 
Upon my chambre roof wythoute, 
Upon the tyles al aboute ; 
And songen everych in hys wyse 
The moste solempne servise 
By noote, that ever man, Y trowe, 

Had herd. For somme of hem songe lowe, 

Somme high, and al of oon acorde. 

To telle shortly at 00 word, 

Was never herd so swete a Steven, 

But hyt hadde be a thyng of heven, 

So mery a soun, so swete entewnes. 

That, certes, for the toune of Tewnes, 

I nolde but I had herd hem synge, 

For al my chambre gan to rynge, 

Thorgh syngynge of her armonye ; 

For instrument nor melodye 

Was no-vv'her herd yet half so swete, 

Nor of acorde ne half so mete. 

For ther was noon of hem that feynede 

To synge, for eche of hem hym peynede'^ 

1 I dreamed. " took trouble. 



1 6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

To fynde out mery crafty notys ; 
They ne sparede not her throtys. 
And, sooth to seyn, my chambre was 
Ful wel depeynted, and with glas 
Were alle the wyndowes wel yglased 
Ful clere, and nat an hoole ycrased, 
That to beholde hyt was grete joye. 
For holy al the story of Troye 
Was in the glasynge ywrought thus ; 
Of Ector, and of kyng Priamus, 
Of Achilles, and of kyng Lamedon, 
And eke of Medea and of Jason, 
Of Paris, Eleyne, and of Lavyne ; 
And alle the walles, with coloures fyne 
Were peynted, bothe text and glose, 
And al the Romaunce of the Rose. 
My vvindowes were shet echon, 
And throgh the glas the sonne shon 
Upon my bed with bryghte bemys, 
With many glade, gilde stremys ; 
And eke the welken was so faire, 
Blewe, bryghte, clere was the ayre. 
And ful atempre, for sothe, hyt was ; 
For nother to cold nor hoote yt nas, 
Ne in al the welkene was a clowde. 



Troylus and Criseyde. 

[Troylus sees Criseyde in the Temple, and loves her at first sight.] 

But though that Grektis hem of Troye in shetten\ 

And hire citd beseged al aboute. 

Hire olde usages woldc thai noght letten, 

As for to honoure hire goddes ful devoute, 

But aldermost in honour, out of doute, 

They had a relyk hight Palladioun, 

That was hire trist abovcn evcrichoun. 

« shut. 



CHAUCER. "17 

And so byfel, whan comen was the tyme 
Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede 
With newe grene, of lusty Veer the prime, 
And swote smellen floures, white and rede ; 
In sondry wise schewed, as I rede, 
The folk of Troye hire observaunces olde, 
Palladyones feste for to holde. 

And to the temple, in alle hire beste wise, 

In general ther wentii many a wyght 

To herken of Palladyoun servise, 

And namely so mony a lusty knyght, 

So many a lady fresshe, and niayden bryght, 

Ful wele araied, bothe moste and leste, 

Ye, bothe for the seson and the feeste. 

Among thise other folk was Criseyda, 
In wydewes habit blak ; but nathtfles. 
Right as oure firste lettre is now an A, 
In beaut^ first so stood sche makiiles ' ; 
Hire goodly lokyng gladded al the prees : 
Nas nevere seyn thyng to ben preysed derre". 
Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre. 

As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everychon, 
That hire byhelden in hire blake wede ; 
And yet sche stood ful low and stille allone 
Byhynden other folk in litel brede ^, 
And neygh the dore, ay under schames drede, 
Symple of atyre, and debonair of cheere, 
Wyth ful asseured lokynge and manere. 

This Troylus, as he was wont to gyde 
His yonge knyhtes, ladde hem up and down, 
In thilke large temple on every syde, 
Byholdynge ay the ladies of the town ; 
Now here now ther, for no devocioun 



' malchlcss. 2 d^^aier. ^ a little wny. 

VOL. I. C 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Hadde he to non to reven^ him his reste, 

But gan to preyse and lakken'* whom him lestc. 

And in his walk ful fast he gan to wayten, 

If knyght or sqwyer of his compaynye 

Gan for to sigh, or lete his eyen bayten ^ 

On any woman that he koude aspye ; 

He wolde smyle, and holden it folye, 

And seye him thus : — ' God wot sche slepeth softe 

For love of the, whan thow tumest ful ofte. 

' I have herd telle, pardieux, of your lyvynge, 
Ye lovers, and youre lewde* observaunces. 
And which a^ labour folk han in wynnynge 
Of love, and in the kepynge which doutaunces ; 
And when your preye is lost, wo and penaunces; 
O, verrey fooles ! nice and blynde be ye ; 
Ther is not oon kan war by other be.' 

And with that worde he gan caste up his browe, 
Ascaunces ", lo ! is this nought wysly spoken ? 
At whiche the God of Love gan loken rowe' 
Right for despit, and shoop for to ben wroken^. 
He kydde ^ anon his bowe nas not broken : 
For, sodenly he hitte him atte fulle, 
And yet as proude a pacok can he pulle. 

O blynde world ! O blynd intencioun ! 

How often falleth al the effecte contraire 

Of surquidrye '" and foul presumpcioun, 

For kaught is proud, and kaught is debonaire ! 

This Troylus is clomben on the staire, 

And litel weneth that he schal descenden ; 

But alday" fayleth thinge that fooles wenden. 

* <lcpiivc. ^ criticise. ' feast. * unlcan\c<l. foolish. 

•'' what. " as much as to say. ' stern. ' aimed at vengeance. 

• shewed, '" arrogance. " every day. 



CHAUCER. 19 

As proude Bayard^ g^Tineth for to skyppe 
Out of the wey, so priketh him his com, 
Til he a lassch have of the longe whippe, 
Than thynketh he, 'Thogh I praunce al byforn 
First in the trayse, ful fat and newe shorn, 
Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe 
I mote endure, and with my feeres - drawe.' 

So ferd it by this fiers and proude knyght. 
Though he a worthi k)-nges sonne were. 
And wende no thinge had had swiche myght, 
Ayeins his wille, that scholde his herte stere ' ; 
That with a look his herte wex a feere, 
That, he that now was moost in pride above, 
Wex sodeynly most subgit unto love. 

Forthy* ensaumple taketh of this man, 
Ye wise, proude, and worthy folkes alle. 
To scomen Love, whiche that so soone kan 
The fredom of youre hertes to him thralle ; 
For evere was, and evere schal befalle. 
That Love is he that alle thing may bynde ; 
For may no man fordon the lawe of kynde ^ 

That this be soth hath proved and doth yit ; 
For this trowe I ye knowen alle and some. 
Men reden not that folk han gretter wit 
Than thei that hath ben most wth love ynome ^ ; 
And strengest folk ben therwith overcome, 
The worthiest and the grettest of degree ; 
This was and is, and yit men schal it see. 

And treweliche it sit wel to be so. 

For alderwysest han therwith ben plesed, 

And thai that han ben aldermost in wo. 

With love han ben conforted most and esed ; 

And oft it hath the cruel herte apesed, 

And worthi folk made worthier of name, 

And causeth most to dreden vice and schame. 

' 'Bay,' a common name for a horse. ^ fellows. 

' steer. * therefore. ^ nature. * taken prisoners. 

C 2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And sith it may not godely ben withstonde, 
And is a thing so vertuous in kynde, 
Refuseth not to Love for to ben bonde, 
Syn, as him selven Hst, he may yow bynde, 
The yerde ^ is bet that bowen wol and wynde 
Than that that brest ^ ; and therfor I yow rede 
To folowen him that so wel kan yow lede. 



[Pandarus, the uncle of Criseyde and the friend of Troylus, has told her of 
Tioylus' love. She is left alone, and sees him returning from battle.] 

With this he tok his leve, and home he wente ; 
A, Lord ! so he was glad, and wel bygon ! 
Criseyde aros, no longer she ne stente, 
But streght into hire closet wente anon, 
And set hire down, as stille as any ston, 
And every word gon up and down to wynde, 
That he hadde seyde, as it come hire to mynde, 

And wex somdeP astoned in hire thought, 

Right for the newe cas ; but when that she 

Was ful avysed, tho fond she right nought 

Of peril, why she aught aferiid be : 

For man may love of possibility 

A woman so, his herte may to-breste*, 

And she nought love ayeyn, but if hire leste. 

But as she sat allon and thoughte thus, 

Ascry aroos at scarmich ° al withoute, 

And men cried in the street, ' Se Troilus 

Hath right now put to flyght the Grekcs route.' 

With that gan al hire meynd " for to shoute : 

' A ! go we sc, caste up the yatcs wide. 

For thorwgh this strcte he moot to palcys ryde;' 

' wand. '•' hursts, lireaks. ^ soniowliat. 

• Ijicak. '' a hallle cry arose. " allcndants. 



CHAUCER. 

For oother way is to the gates noon, 
Of Dardanus, ther^ open is the cheyne : 
With that come he, and alle his folk anon. 
An esy pace rydynge, in routes tweyne, 
Right as his happy day was ^, sothe to seyne : 
For which men seyn may nought distourbed be 
That shal bytyden of necessite. 

This Troilus sat on his baye stede 

Al armed save his hed ful richely, 

And wonded was his hors, and gan to^ blede, 

On whiche he rood a paas ^ ful softely : 

But swiche a knyghtly sighte trewely 

As was on hym., was nought, withouten faile, 

To loke on Mars, that god is of batayle. 

So like a man of armes and a knyght. 
He was to sen, fulfild of heigh prowesse ; 
For bothe he hadde a body, and a myght 
To don that thyng, as wele as hardynesse ; 
And ek to sen hym in his gere hym dresse, 
So fressh, so yong, so weldy semed he, 
It was an heven upon hym for to se. 

His helm to-hewen was in twenty places, 

That by a tyssew heng his bak byhynde. 

His shelde to-dasshed was with swerdes and maces, 

In which men myghte many an arwe fynde, 

That thyrled hadde horn, and nerf, and rynde ; 

And ay the peple criede, ' Here cometh oure joye, 

And, next his brother, holder up of Troye.' 

For which he wex a litel rede for schame 

Whan he the peple upon him herde crien. 

That to byholde it was a noble game. 

How sobreliche he caste down his eighen : 

Criseyd anon gan al his chere aspyen, 

And leet so softe it in hire herte synken. 

That to hire self she seyde, ' Who yaf me drynken ^ ? ' 

where. " as though it were a lucky day for him. 

^ at foot's pace. * who has given me a love-potion ? 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



For of hire owen thought she wex al rede, 
Remembrynge hire right thus, ' Lo ! this is he, 
Which that myn uncle swerth he moot be dede, 
But I on hym have mercy and pite : ' 
And with that thought, for pure ashamed she 
Gan in hire hed to pulle, and that as faste. 
While he and al the peple forby paste. 

And gan to caste, and rollen up and down 
Within hire thought his excellent prowesse. 
And his estat, and also his renoun, 
His wit, his shappe, and ek his gentilnesse ; 
But moost hire favour was for his distresse 
Was al for hire, and thought it as a rowthe ^ 
To sleen swich oon, if that he mente trouthe. 

Now myghte som envious jangle thus, 
' This was a sodeyn love, how myghte it be 
That she so lightly lovede Troylus, 
Right for the firste sighte ? ' Ye, pard^ ? 
Now who so seith so, moot he never ythe^! 
For every thyng a gynnyng hath it nede 
Er al be wrought, withouten any drede. 

For I sey nought that she so sodeynly 
Yaf hym hire love, but that she gan enclyne 
To like hym firste, and I have told yow why; 
And efter that, his manhod and his pyne 
Made love withinne hire herte for to myne ; 
For which by proces, and by goode servyse, 
He gat hire love, and in no sodeyn wyse. 



' pily. ' y-llic : succeed, j)rospcr. 



CHAUCER. 23 



[Troylus' long courtship is at last rewarded with the 
love of Criseyde.] 

soth is seyd, that heled for to be, 
As of a fevere, or other gret syknesse, 
Men moste drynke, as men may ofte se, 
Ful bittre drynk : and for to han gladnesse 
Men drj^nken of peynifs, and gret distresse : 

1 mene it here, as for this aventure, 

That thorwgh a peyne hath fonden al his cure. 

And now swetnesse semeth more swete, 

That bitternesse assayed was byforn ; 

For out of wo in blisse now they flete, 

Non swich they felten syn that they were born ; 

Now is this bet than bothe two be lorn ! 

For love of God ! take every womman hede, 

To werken thus, if it cometh to the nede. 

Criseyde, al quyt from every drede and teene, 
As she that juste cause hadde hym to triste, 
Made hym swich feste, it joie was to seene. 
When she his trouthe and clene entente wiste : 
And as aboute a tre, with many a twiste, 
Bytrent and writh^ the soote wodebynde, 
Gan ich of hem in armes other wynde. 

And as the new abaysed nyghtyngale, 

That stynteth first, when she bygynneth synge, 

When that she hereth any herdes tale. 

Or in the hegges any wight sterynge ; 

And, after, syker^ doth hire vois out rynge ; 

Right so Criseyde, when hire drede stente, 

Opncd hire herte, and told hym hire entente. 

' entwines and wreatlics. * sure, clear. 



24 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And right as he that seth his deth yshapen, 
And deyen mot, in aught that he may gesso, 
And sodeynly rescous doth hym escapen ^, 
And from his deth is brought in sykernesse ; 
For al this world, in swich present gladnesse 
Was Troilus, and hath his lady swete : 
With worse hap God lat us nevere mete ! 



In suffisaunce, in blisse, and in syngynges, 
This Troilus gan al his lyf to lede : 
He spendeth, jousteth, maketh festeyinges, 
He yeveth frely ofte, and chaungeth wede^; 
He halt aboute hym alway, out of drede, 
A world of folk, as com hym wel of kynde ', 
The fressheste and the beste he koude fynde. 

That swich a vois was of hym and a neven *, 
Thorughout the world, of honour and largesse, 
That it up rong unto the yate of heven ; 
And as in love he was in swich gladnesse, 
That in his herte he demed, as I gesse, 
That ther nys lovere in this world at ese, 
So wel as he, and thus gan love hym plese. 

The goodlyhed or beaut^, which that kynde 

In any other lady hadde iset, 

Kan nought the mountaunce of a knotte unbynde 

About his herte, of al Criseydes net : 

He was so narwe ymasked'', and yknet. 

That it undon on any manner syde. 

That nyl nought ben, for aught that may l:)ctidc. 

And by the bond ful oft he woldc take 
This Pandarus, and into gardyn lede, 
And swich a feste, and swiche a proces make 
Hym of Criseyde, and of hire wommanhede, 
And of hire bcautd, that, withouten drede, 

' makes liim free. ' dress. " as well suits his nature. 

* name. ° cnmcsiictl. 



CHAUCER. 25 

It was an heven his wordes for to here, 

And thanne he wolde synge in this manere : — 

' Love \ that of erth and se hath governaunce ! 
Love, that his hestes hath in heven hye ! 
Love, that with an holsom alHaunce 
Halt peples joyned, as hym list hem gye "• ! 
Love, that knetteth law and compaignye, 
And couples doth in vertu for to dwelle ! 
Bynd this acorde, that I have told and telle ! 

' That, that the world, with faith which that is stable, 

Dyverseth so, his stoundes ■' concordynge ; — 

That elementz, that ben so discordable, 

Holden a bond perpetualy durynge ; — 

That Phebus mot his rosy carte forth brynge. 

And that the mone hath lordschip over the nyght ; — 

Al this doth Love, ay heryed* be his myght ! 

' That, that the se, that gredy is to flowen, 

Constreyneth to a certeyn ende so 

Hise flodes, that so fiersly they ne growen 

To drenchen erth and al for evermo ; 

And if that Love aught lete his brydel go, 

Al that now loveth asonder sholde lepe. 

And lost were al that Love halt now to hepe''. 

' Soo, wolde Gode, that auctour is of kynde ^, 

That with his bond Love, of his vertu, liste 

To cerclen hertes alle, and faste bynde, 

That from his bond no wighte the wey out wyste ! 

And hertes colde, hem wolde I that he twiste. 

To make hem love, and that hem liste ay rewe 

On hertes soore, and kepe hem that ben trewe.' 



' This sonc; is pamphiasefl from Boctliius, Cons. 2, met. S. 
guide. ^ limes. * praised. '•' holds together. '' nature. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



[Criseyde is to be sent away to her father Calchas, in the Grecian camp, 
in exchange for Antenor, who has been taken prisoner. She vows 
fidelity, and tells Troylus why she loves him, promising to return on 
the tenth night.] 

' For trusteth wel that your estat real, 

Ne veyn delite, nor oonly worthinesse 

Of yow in werre or tournay marcial, 

Ne pomp, array, nobley, or ek richesse, 

Ne made me to re we on youre distresse, 

But moral virtu, grounded upon trowthe, 

That was the cause I first hadde on yow routhe. 

' Eke gentil herte, and manhode that ye hadde. 

And that ye hadde (as me thought) in despite 

Every thyng that souned in-to^ badde. 

As rudenesse, and poeplish^ appetite, 

And that your reson brideled your delite, 

This made, aboven every creature. 

That I was youre, and shal whil I may dure. 

' And this may length of yeres nought fordo, 

Ne remuable fortune deface ; 

But Juppiter, that of his myght may do 

The sorwful to be glad, so yeve us grace, 

Er nyghtes ten to meten in this place. 

So that it may youre herte and myn sufifise ! 

And fareth now wel, for tyme is that ye rise.' 



[Troylus wanders about, waiting for Criseyde's return.] 

And ihcrwithalle, his meynyc for to blende -^ 

A cause he fond in townci for to go, 

And to Criseydes hous they gonncn wende ; 

tended towards. - vulgar. ^ to deceive his companions. 



CHAUCER. 27 



But Lord ! this sely Troilus was wo ! 
Hym thoughte his sorwful herte braste atwo ; 
For when he saugh hire dorres sperred ^ alle, 
Wei neigh for sorwe adoun he gan to falle. 

Therwith, when he was ware, and gan biholde, 
How shet was every wyndow of the place, 
As frost hym thoughte his herte gan to colde ; 
For which, with chaunged deedlich pale face, 
Withouten word, he forth bygan to pace ; 
And, as God wolde, he gan so faste ryde, 
That no wight of his contenaunce espyde. 

Than seyde he thus : — ' O paleys desolat ! 

O hous of housses, whilom best yhight ! 

O paleys empty and disconsolat ! 

O thou lanterne, of which queynt is the light ! 

O paleys, whilom day, that nov.- art nyght ! 

Wei oughtestow to falle, and I to dye, 

Syn she is went that wont was us to gyel 

' O paleys, whilom crowne of houses alle, 

Enlumyned with sonne of alle bhsse ! 

O r^mge, fro which the ruby is out falle ! 

O cause of wo, that cause has ben of blisse ! 

Yit syn I may no bet, fayn wolde I kysse 

Thy colde dores, dorste I for this route ; 

And farewel shryne, of which the seint is outc ! 

Therwith he caste on Pandarus his yii. 
With chaunged face, and pitous to beholde ; 
And when he myght his tyme aright espye, 
Ay as he rood, to Pandarus he tolde 
His newe sorwe, and ek his joyes olde, 
So pitously, and with so dede an hewe, 
That every wight myght on his sorwes rewe. 

1 bolted. ' guide. 



28 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Fro thennes-forth he rydeth up and down, 
And every thynge com hym to remembraunce, 
As he rood forth by places of the town, 
In which he whilom had al his plesaunce : — 
' Lo ! 3'ond saugh I myn owen lady daunce ; 
And in that temple, with hire eyen clere, 
Me caughte first my righte lady deere. 

'And yonder have I herd ful lustily 
My deere herte laughe ; and yonder pleye 
Saugh Ich hire oones ek ful blisfuUy ; 
And yonder oones to me gan she seye, 
' Now goode swete ! love me wel, I preye ; 
And yond so gladly gan she me beholde. 
That to the deth myn herte is to hir holde. 

'And at that corner in the yonder hous, 
Herde I myn alderlevest^ lady deere, 
So wommanly, with vois melodyous, 
Syngen so wel, so goodely and so clere. 
That in my soule yit me thynkth I here 
The blisful sown ; and in that yonder place 
My lady first me took unto hire grace.' 

Than thought he thus, ' O blisful lord Cupide ! 
When I the processe have[al] in memorie. 
How thow me hast werreyed^ on every syde, 
Men myght a book make of it lyk a st6rie ! 
What nede is thee to seke on mc victorie, 
Syn I am thyn, and holly at thi wille ? 
What joye hastow thyn owen folk to spillc ? 

'Wel hastow, lord, ywroke on mc thyn ire, 
Thow myghty god ! and dredeful for to greve ! 
Now mercy, god ! thow woost wel I desire 
Thy grace moost, of alle lustcs leeve ! 
And lyve and dye I wol in thy beleve ; 
For which I naxe' in guerdon but a boone, 
That thow Criseyde aycin me sonde soone. 

' best beloved. ^ ma<'c war en. ^ nsk not. 



CHAUCER. 20 

' Destreyne hire herte as faste to retourne, 

As thow doost myn to longen hire to see ; 

Than woot I wel that she nyl naught sojourne : 

Now bhsful lord ! so cruwel thow ne be 

Unto the blod of Troye, I preye the, 

As Juno was unto the blod Thebane, 

For which the folk of Thebes caughte hire banc.' 

And efter this he to the yates wente, 
Ther as Criseyde out rood a ful good pas, 
And up and doun ther made he many a wente, 
And to himself ful ofte he seyde, ' Alias ! 
Fro hennes rood my blisse and my solas ! 
As wolde blisful God now for his joye, 
I myght hire seen ayein com into Troye ! 

' And to the yonder hille I gan hire gyde ; 
Alias ! and ther I took of hire my leeve ; 
And yond I saugh hire to hire fader ryde. 
For sorwe of which myn herte shal to-cleve ; 
And hider horn I com when it was eve ; 
And here I dwelle, out-cast from alle joye. 
And shal, til I may seen her eft ^ in Troye.' 

And of hym-self ymagyned he ofte. 

To be defet'-, and pale, and waxen lesse 

Than he was wont, and that men seyde softe, 

' What may it be ? who kan the sothe gesse, 

Why Troylus hath al this hevynesse?' 

And al this nas but his melencolye, 

That he hadde of hym-self swich fantasye. 

Another tyme ymagynen he wolde, 

That every wyght that wente by the weye 

Hadde of him routhe, and that they seyiin sholde, 

* I am right sory, Troilus wol deye.' 

And thus he drof a day yit forth or twcye, 

As ye ban herd ; swich lyf right gan he lede, 

As he that stood bitwixen hope and drede. 

' attain. ''■ cast lo\mi. 



30 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



For which hym Hked in his songes shewe 

Thencheson ^ of his wo, as he best myghte, 

And made a song of wordes but a fewe, 

Somwhat his woful herte for to lighte : 

And when he was from every mannes sighte, 

With softe vois, he of his lady deere, 

That absent was, gan synge as ye may here. 

' O sterre, of which I lost have al the lighte, 
With herte soore wel oughte I to bewaylle, 
That ever derk in tormente, nyght by nyghte, 
Towarde my deth, with wynde in steere ^ I saylle ; 
For which the tenthe nyght if that I faile 
The gidynge of thi hemes brighte an houre, 
My ship and me Caribdes wol devoure.' 

This songe when he thus songen hadde soone 
He fel ayein into his sikes olde ; 
And every nyght, as was his wone to doone. 
He stood, the bryghte mone to beholde ; 
And al his sorwe he to the moone tolde, 
And seyde, ' I wis, when thow art horned newe 
I shal be glad, if al the world be trewe. 

' I saugh thyn homes olde ek by the morwe. 
Whan hennes rood my righte lady deere, 
That cause is of my torment and my sorwe ; 
For which, O bryghte Lucina the cleere ! 
For love of God ! renne fast aboute thy spere ^ ; 
For when thyn homes newe gynnen sprynge. 
Than shal she come that may my blisse brynge.' 

The day is moore, and longer ever nyght 
Than they ben wont to be, hym thoughtc tho ; 
And that the sonnc wente his course unright. 
By longer weye than it was wont to go ; 
And scyde, ' Iwis, me dredeth cveremo 
The sonncs sonc, Pheton, be on lyve*, 
And that his fader cart amys he dryve.' 

' Ihc cause. ^ will) a fail wind. •' sjihcrc. * alive. 



CHAUCER. 

Upon the walles fast ek wolde he waike, 

And on the Grekes oost he wolde se ; 

And to hymself right thus he wolde talke : — 

' Lo, yonder is myn owen lady free, 

Or elles yonder, ther the tentes bee, 

And thennes comth this eyr that is so soote \ 

That in my soule I feele it doth me boote. 

'And hardyly, this wynd that moore and moore 

Thus stoundemele^ encresseth in my face, 

Is of my ladys depe sykes sore ; 

I preve it thus, for in noon other place 

Of al this town, save oonly in this space, 

Feele I no wynd that souneth so lyke peyne ; 

It seith 'Alias! whi twynned be we tweyne?' 

This longe tyme he dryveth forth right thus, 
Til fully passed was the nynthe nyght ; 
And ay bysyde hym was this Pandarus, 
That bisily dide al his fulle myght 
Hym to confort, and make his herte light ; 
Yevynge hym hope alwey, the tenthe morwe 
That she shal come, and stenten al his sorwe. 



[Criseyde, in her father's tent, is wooed by Diomede, and gradually 
yields to him.] 

Retournynge in hir soule ay up and doun 
The wordtis of this sodeyn Diomede, 
His gret estate, and peril of the town. 
And that she was allon, and hadde nede 
Of frendes help ; and thus bygan to brede ' 
The cause whi, the sothe for to telle, 
That sche tok fully purpos for to dwelle*. 

* sweet. 2 fron;^ XxvciQ to time. ^ to arise. 

* to remain with her father, instead of returning to Troy. 



32 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The morvve com, and gostly for to speke, 
This Diomede is com unto Criseyde ; 
And shortly, lest that ye my tale breke, 
So wel he for hymselfe spak and seyde. 
That alle hire sykes soore adown he layde ; 
And finaly, the sothe for to seyne. 
He refte hire of the grete of al hire peyne. 

And cfter this, the storie telleth us. 
That she him yaf the faire baye steede, 
The which she ones wan of Troilus ; 
And eke a broch (and that was litel nede) 
That Troilus^ was, she yaf this Diomede ; 
And ek the bet from sorw hym to releve. 
She made hym were a pensel ^ of hire sieve. 

I fynde ek in storyes elleswhere, 

When thorugh the body hirt was Dyomede 

Of Troilus, tho weep she many a teere, 

When that she saugh hise wyde woundes blede, 

And that she took to kepen hym good hede, 

And for to hele hym of his sorwes smerte. 

Men seyn, I not ^, that she yaf hym hire herte. 

But trewelyche, the storye telleth us, 
Ther made never womman more wo 
Than she, when that she falsede Troylus ; 
She seyde, 'Alias! for now is clene ago* 
My name of trouthe in love for evermo ; 
For I have falsed oon the gentileste 
That evere was, and oon the worthicste. 

' Alias ! of me unto the worldes ende 

Shal neither ben ywriten nor ysonge 

No good word, for thise bokes wol me shendc ; 

I rolled schal I ben on many a tonge ; 

Thorughout the world my belle schal be ronge ; 

' Tioiluris, '^ a banner (,inaucj. ■' nc wol know not. ' gone. 



CHAUCER. 33 



And wommen most wol haten me of alle ; 
Alias ! that swich a cas me sholde falle ! 

' They wol seyn, in as muche as in me is, 
I have hem don dishonoure, walaway ! 
Al be I not the firste that dide amys, 
What helpeth that to don my blame away? 
But syn I se ther is no better way, 
And that to late is now for me to rewe, 
To Dyomede algate ^ I wol be trewe. 

' But, Troilus, syn I no better may, 

And syn that thus departen ye and I, 

Yet preye I God so yeve yow right good day ; 

As for the gentileste trewely, 

That evere I say^, to serven faithfully, 

And best kan ay his lady honour kepe ;' 

And with that word she braste anon to wepc. 

'And certes, yow to haten shal I nevere, 

And frendes love, that shal ye han of me, 

And my good word, al shold I lyven evere ; 

And trewely I wol right sory be, 

For to sen yow in adversite ; 

And giltelees I wot wel I yow leeve. 

And al shal passe, and thus tak I my leve.' 

But trewely how longe it was betweyne, 

That she forsok hym for this Dyomede, 

Ther is non auctour telleth it, I wene ; 

Tak every man now to his bokes hede. 

He shal no time fj'nden, out of drede ; 

For though that he bigan to wowe hire soone, 

Er he hire wan, yet was ther more to doonc. 

Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde 
Ferther than the storie wol devj'se ; 
Hire name, alias ! is publyshed so wyde, 
That for hire gilte it ought ynough suffise ; 
And if I myght excuse hire any wyse, 

* always, anyhow. * saw. 

VOL. I. D 



34 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

For she so sory was for hire untrouthe, 
Iwis I wold excuse hire yet for routhe. 



[Troylus discovers Criseyde's infidelity, and meets his death, 
fighting desperately.] 

The wrath, as I bigan yow for to seye, 
Of Troilus, the Grekes boughten deere ; 
For thousandes his hondes maden dye, 
As he that was withouten any peere, 
Save Ector in his tyme, as I kan here ; 
But, walawey ! save only Goddes wille, 
Dispitously hym slough the fiers Achille. 

And when that he was slayn in this manere, 
His lighte gost ful blisfully is went 
Up to the holownesse of the seventh spere, 
In convers letynge everych element ^ ; 
And ther he saugh, with ful avysement, 
The erratyk sterres, herkenynge armonye, 
With sownes ful of hevenyssh melodye. 

And down from thennes faste he gan avyse 

This litel spot of erth, that with the se 

Embraced is ; and fully gan despise 

This wreched world, and held al vanyt^. 

To respect of the pleyn felicity 

That is in hevene above : and at the laste, 

Ther he was slayn, his lokyng down he caste. 

And in hymself he lough right at the wo 
Of hem that weptcn for his deth so faste, 
And dampned al our werk that folweth so 
The Ijlyndc lust, the which that may not lastc, 
And sholdcn al our hcrtc on hcvcne caste ; 

' From llic scveiilli or uttermost heaven all the others would appear 
convex, or convers. 



CHAUCER. 35 

And forth he wenti3, shortly for to telle, 
Ther as Mercurie sorted hym to dwelle. 

Svvich fyn hath, lo ! this Troilus for love ! 

Swich fyn hath al his grete worthynesse ! 

Swich fyn hath his estat real ^ above ! 

Swich fyn his lust, swich fyn hath his noblesse ! 

Swich fyn hath false worldes brotelnesse ^ ! 

And thus bigan his lovynge of Cryseyde, 

As I have told, and in this wise he deyde. 

O yonge fresshe folkes, he or she, 

In which that love up groweth with your age, 

Repeireth horn fro worldly vanyt^. 

And of your herte up casteth the visage 

To thilke God, that after his ymage 

Yow made, and thynketh al nys but a faire, 

This world that passeth soon, as floures faire. 

And loveth hym the which that, right for love, 
Upon a crois, our soules for to beye. 
First starf* and roos, and sit* in heven above, 
For he nyl falsen no wight, dar I seye, 
That wol his herte al holly on hym leye ; 
And syn he best to love is, and most meke. 
What nedeth feyned loves for to seke ? 

Lo ! here of payens corsed olde rites ! 
Lo ! here what alle hire goddes may availle ! 
Lo ! here this wreched worldes appetites ! 
Lo ! here the fyn and guerdon for travaille, 
Of Jove, Apollo, of Mars, and swich rascaille ! 
Lo ! here the forme of olde clerkes speche 
In poetrie, if ye hire bokes seche. 

' royal. ^ brittleaess. s (jjgj^ ^ ^j^^ 



D 2 



36 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Parlement of Foules. 

[Chaucer dreams that he sees the birds assembled on St. Valentine's Day to 
choose their mates, the Goddess Nature presiding. Among the mates 
is a formel, or female eagle, wooed by three tercels : the formel being 
probably Anne of Bohemia, and the tercel royal King Richard II.] 

And in a launde, upon an hille of floures, 
Was set this noble goddesse Nature ; 
Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures 
Ywrought, after hir crafte and hir mesure ; 
Ne ther nas fowl that cometh of engendrure, 
That there ne were prest^, in hir presence, 
To take hir dome^, and yeve hir audience. 



There myghte men the royal egle fynde, 
That with his sharpe look perceth the Sonne ; 
And other egles of a lower kynde, 
Of which that clerkes wel devysen konne ; 
There was the tiraunt with his fethres donne 
And grey, I mene the goshauke that doth pync ' 
To briddes, for his outrageous ravyne. 

The gcntil faucoun *, thaj with his feet distreyneth 
The kyngiis hond ; the hardy sperhauk eke, 
The quaylos foo ; the merlyon that peyneth 
Hymself ful ofte the larke for to seke ; 
There was the dowvc, with hir eycn meke ; 
The jalouse swanne, ayens hys deth that syngeth ; 
The owle eke, that of dethc the bode bryngcth. 

' ready. ^ judgment. 

* causes torment. * the peregrine. 



CHAUCER. 37 



The crane the geaunt, with his trompes soune : 

The thefe the chough, and eke the janglyng pye ; 

The scornyng jay, the eles foo the heroune ; 

The false lapwyng, ful of trecherye ; 

The stare, that the counseyl kan be\vrye ' ; 

The tame ruddok '-, and the coward kyte ; 

The cok, that orlogge ys of thropes lyte^. 

The sparow, Venus sone, and the nyghtyngale 
That clepeth forth the fresshe leves newe : 
The swalow, mordrer of the bees smale, 
That maken hony of floures fressh of hewe ; 
The wedded turtel, with hys herte trewe ; 
The pecok, with his aungels fethers bryghte ; 
The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nyglite. 

The waker* goos, the cukkow ever unkynde, 

The papinjay, ful of delycacye ; 

The drake, stroyer of his owen kynde ; 

The storke, wTeker of avowterie ; 

The hoote cormeraunt, ful of glotonye ; 

The ravene and the crowe, with voys of care; 

The throstel old, the frosty feldefare. 



[The question as to which tercel is to have the formel eagle is referred to 
the Parliament of Birds. Some of the opinions given are as follows.] 

The watir foules han her hedcs leyd 

Togedir, and of shorte avysement, 

Whan everych had hys large golee^ seyd, 

They seyden sothl^ al by on assent. 

How that the goos, with hir faconde gent ", 

That soo desireth to pronounce our nede, 

Shal telle our tale, and preyde to God hir spede. 

> that talks and reveals secrets. ^ robin. ^ that is clock to 

small villages. * wakeful. '' mouthful. ^ gentle eloquence. 



38 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And for these watir foules tho began 

The goos to speke, and in hir cakelynge, 

She seyde, 'Pes now, tak kepe^ every man, 

And herkneth which a resoun I shal forth bringe ! 

My wyt ys sharpe, I love no taryinge ! 

I sey I rede'" hym, though he were my brother, 

But she wol love hym, lat hym love another.' 

* Loo ! here a parfyte resoun of a goos ! ' 
Ouod the sperhauke. ' Never mote she thee ^ ! 
Loo, suche hyt ys to have a tonge loos ! 
Now pard^, fool, yet were hit bet* for the 
Have holde thy pes, than shewed thy nycetd ; 
Hyt lyth not in hys wyt, nor in hys wille ; 
But sooth ys seyd, a fool kan noght be stille.' 

The laughtre aroos of gentil foules alle, 
And ryght anoon the sede-foul^ chosen hadde 
The turtel trewe, and ganne hir to hem calle ; 
And prayden hir to seye the soth sadde 
Of thys matere, and asked what she radde^ 
And she answerde, that pleynly hir entente 
She wolde shewe, and sothly what she mente. 

' Nay, God forbede a lover shuldc chaunge ! ' 
The turtel seyde, and wex for shame al reed : 
' Thoogh that hys lady evermore be straunge, 
Yet let hym serve hir ever, tyl he be deed. 
Forsoth, I preyse noght the gooses reed ; 
Yox though she deyed, I wolde noon other make"; 
I wol ben hirs til that the dcth me take.' 

' Wei bourded •*,' quod the duke, ' by my hat ! 
That men shulde alwey loven causiilcs, 
Who kan a resoun fynde, or wyt in that .'' 
Daunceth he murye ^ that ys murthelcs ? 
Who shulde rcchche '" of that ys rechcheles ? 

' pay altciilioii. ^ a<lvisc. ^ may she thrive. * belter. 

■' the fowls that feed on grain. * advised. ' male. * jested. 

' merrily. '* reck, care. 



CHAUCER. 39 

Ye ! quek ! yet,' quod the duke, ' wel and faire ! 
There ben moo sterres, God woot, than a paire.' 

* Now fy, cherl ! ' quod the gentil tercelet,— 

* Out of the dunghil com that word ful rj^ght ; 
Thou kanst noght see which thing is wel beset ; 
Thou farest be love as owles doon by lyght, — 
The day hem blent, ful wel they see by nyght ; 
Thy kynde ys of so lowe a wrechednesse, 
That what love is thou kanst not see ne gesse.' 

Thoo gan the cukkow put hym forth in pres ^ 

For foule that eteth worm, and seyde blyve - : — 

' So I,' quod he, ' may have my make in pes, 

I reche not how longe that ye strive. 

Lat ech of hem be soleyn al her lyve, 

This ys my reed, syne they may not acorde ; 

This shorte lessoun nedeth noght recorde.' 

' Yee, have the glotoun fild ynogh hys paunch e, 

Thanne are we wel ! ' seyde the merlyoun * : — 

' Thou mordrere of the haysogge * on the braunche 

That broghte the forth ! thou rewful glotoun I 

Lyve thou soleyn, wormes corrupcioun ! 

For no fors ys of lak of thy nature ^ ; 

Goo, lewed be thou while the world may dure ! ' 

' Now pes,' quod Nature, ' I comrnaunde here. 

For I have herd al your opynioun, 

And in effect yet be we never the nere ; 

But fynally, this ys my conclusioun, — 

That she hir self shal have the eleccioun 

Of whom hir lyst, who-so be wrooth or blythe ; 

Hym that she cheest ", he shal han hir as swithe ^.' 

' among the crowd. '■' quickly. ^ the merlin. * hedge-sparrow. 
* failure of thy whole species would not matter. * chooses. '' swil'tly. 



40 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Hous of Fame. 

[Chaucer dreams that he is carried up by an eagle to the House of Fame, 
midway between heaven, earth, and sea. The eagle thus explains why 
Jove does him this honour.] 

' But er I bere thee moche ferre ', 

I wol thee telle what I am, 

And whider thou shalt, and why I cam 

To do thys, so that thou [thee] take 

Good herte, and not for fere quake.' 

* Gladly,' quod I. ' Now wel,' quod he : 

' First, I, that in my feet have thee, 

Of which thou hast a fere and wonder, 

Am dwellyng with the god of thonder, 

Whiche that men callen Jupiter, 

That dooth me flee ful ofte fer 

To do al hys comaundement. 

And for this cause he hath me sent 

To thee : now herke, be thy trouthe ! 

Certeyn he hath of thee routhe, 

That thou so longe trewely 

Hast served so ententyfly'^ 

Hys blyndc nevew Cupido, 

And faire Venus also, 

Withoute guerdoun ever yit, 

And nevertheles hast set thy wit, 

(Although [that] in thy hede ful lyt is) 

To make songcs, bokes, and dytees, 

In ryme, or elliis in cadence, 

As thou best conne, in reverence 

Of Love, and of hys scrvantcs eke, 

That have hys servyse soght, and sekc ; 

' further. ^ attentively. 



CHAUCER. 41 



And peynest the to preyse hys art, 
Although thou haddest never part ; 
Wherfore, al-so God me blesse, 
Joves halt ^ hyt gret humblesse, 
And vertu eke, that thou wolt make 
A nyght ful ofte thyn hede to ake, 
In thy studye so thou writest. 
And evermo of love enditest. 
In honour of hym and preysynges, 
And in his folkes furtherynges. 
And in hir matere al devisest. 
And noght hym nor his folk dispisest, 
Although thou maist goo in the daunce 
Of hem that hym lyst not avaunce. 
Wherfore, as I seyde, ywys, 
Jupiter considereth this ; 
And also, beausir, other thynges ; 
That is, that thou hast no tydynges 
Of Loves folke, yf they be glade, 
Ne of noght elles that God made ; 
And noght oonly fro fer contree. 
That ther no tydyng cometh to thee, 
Not of thy verray neyghebores. 
That dwellen almost at thy dores, 
Thou herest neyther that nor this, 
For when thy labour doon al ys. 
And hast made al thy rekenynges, 
Instede of reste and newe thynges, 
Thou goost home to thy house anoon, 
And, also "^ domb as any stoon. 
Thou sittest at another booke, 
Tyl fully dasevvyd ^ ys thy looke, 
And lyvest thus as an heremyte. 
Although thyn abstynence ys lyte. 
And therfore Joves, through hys grace, 
Wol that I here thee to a place. 
Which that hight the Hous of Fame, 
To do thee som disport and game, 
' holds, deems, - quite as. ^ dazed. 



42 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

In som recompensacioun 

Of labour and devocioun 

That thou hast had, loo ! causeles, 

To Cupido the rechcheles. 



Prologue to the Legende of Goode Women. 
[The poet loves books, but loves the daisy more.] 

And as for me, though than I kon but lyte ', 
On bokes for to rede I me delyte, 
And to hem yive I feyth and ful credence, 
And in myn herte have hem in reverence 
So hertely, that ther is game noon 
That fro my bokes maketh me to goon, 
But yt be seldom on the holy day, 
Save, certeynly, when that the moneth of May 
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge, 
And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge, 
Farewel my boke, and my devocioun ! 

Now have I than suche a condicioun, 
That of alle the floures in the mede. 
Than love I most thise floures white and rede, 
Suche as men callen daysyes in her toun. 
To hem have I so gret affeccioun. 
As I seyde erst, whan comen is the May, 
That, in my bed ther daweth"-^ me no day, 
That 1 nam up and walkyng in the mede, 
To seen tliis floure ayein the sonne sprede. 
Whan it up ryseth eriy by the morwe ; 
That blisful sight softeneth al my sorwe. 
So glad am I, whan that I have presence 
Of it, to doon it alii- reverence. 
As she tliat is of alio flouriis flour. 
Fulfilled of ul vcrtuc and honour, 

' lililc. ' dawnelh. 



CHAUCER. 43 



And ever ilike ' faire, and fressh of hewe. 

And I love it, and ever ylike newe, 

And ever shal, til that myn herte dye ; 

Al svvere I nat, of this I wol nat lye, 

Ther lovede no wight hotter in his lyve. 

And, whan that hit ys eve, I renne blyve^, 

As sone as ever the sonne gynneth weste, 

To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste, 

For fere of nyght, so hateth she derknesse ! 

Hire chere is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse 

Of the Sonne, for ther yt wol unclose. 

Alias, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme, or prose, 

Suffisant this flour to preyse arj^ght ! 

But helpeth, ye that han konnyng and myght, 

Ye lovers, that kan make of sentement ; 

In this case oghten ye be diligent, 

To forthren me somwhat in my labour, 

Whethir ye ben with the leef or with the flour ^, 

For wel I wot, that ye han herbiforn 

Of makynge ropen *, and lad awey the corn ; 

And I come after, glenyng here and there. 

And am ful glad yf I may fynde an ere 

Of any goodly word that ye han left. 

And thogh it happen me rehercen eft 

That ye han in your fresshe songes sayd, 

Forbereth me, and beth not evil apayd^, 

Syn that ye see I do yt in the honour 

Of love, and eke in service of the flour, 

Whom that I serve as I have wit or myght. 

She is the clerenesse and the verray lyght. 

That in this derke worlde me wynt ^ and ledyth, 

The hert in-with my sorwful brest yow dredith. 

And loveth so sore, that ye ben verrayly 

The maistresse of my wit, and nothing I. 

My word, my w^erkes, ys knyt so in your bond 

That, as an harpe obeieth to the hond 

' alike. ^ run quickly. 

' See the introduction to the poem of that name, p. 84. 
* reaped the fruit of poetry. * be not ill pleased. * winds, turns. 



44 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

That maketh it soune after his fyngerynge, 
Ryght so movve ^ ye oute of myn herte bringe 
Swich vois, ryght as yow lyst, to laughe or pleyne ; 
Be ye myn gide, and lady sovereyne. 
As to my erthely God, to yow I calle, 
Bothe in this werke, and in my sorwes alle. 



[He falls asleep, and dreams that he sees the God of Love leading 
in Queen Alcestis, clad like the daisy.] 

Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste, 

And that this flour gan close, and goon to reste, 

For derknesse of the nyght, the which she dredde, 

Home to myn house ful swiftly I me spedde 

To goon to reste, and erly for to ryse, 

To seen this flour sprede, as I devyse. 

And in a litel herber that I have, 

That benched was on turves fresshe ygrave, 

I bad men sholde me my couche make ; 

For deyntee of the newe someres sake'^, 

I bad hem strawen floures on my bed. 

Whan I was leyd, and had myn eyen hed ^, 

I fel on slepe, in-with an houre or twoo, 

Me mette * how I lay in the medewe thoo ^, 

To seen this flour that I love so and drede ; 

And from a-fer come walkyng in the mede 

The God of Love, and in his hande a qucne, 

And she was clad in real " habit grenc ; 

A fret of gold she hadde next her heer, 

And upon that a whit coroune she beer, « 

With flourouns smale, and [that] I shal nat lye, 

For al the world ryght as a daycsye 

Ycorouned ys with white levcs lyte'', 

So were the flowrouns of hire coroune white ; 

For of oo pcrlii, fyne, oriental, 

Hire white coroune was imakcd al, 

can. ' for the sake of the rarity of the new summer. ^ hid. 

^ I dreamed. " then. * royal. ' little. 



CHALCER. 45 

For which the white coroune above the grene 

Made hire lyke a dayesie for to sene, 

Considered eke hir fret of golde above. 

Yclothed was this myghty God of Love 

In silke, enbrouded ful of grene greves ^ 

In-with a fret of rede rose leves, 

The fresshest syn the world was first begonne. 

His gilte here was coroned with a sonne 

In stede of gold, for hevynesse and wyghte ^ ; 

Therwith me thoght his face shoon so brighte 

That wel unnethes ' myghte I him beholde ; 

And in his hand me thoghte I saugh him holde 

Twoo firy dartiis, as the gledes * rede, 

And aungelyke hys \vynges saugh I sprede. 

And, al be that men seyn that blynd ys he, 

Algate me thoghte that he myghte se ; 

For sternely on me he gan byholde, 

So that his loking dooth myn herte colde. 

And by the hande he held this noble quene, 

Coroned with white, and clothed al in grene. 

So womanly, so b^nigne, and so meke. 

That in this world, thogh that men wolde seke, 

Half of hire beaute shulde men nat fynde 

In creature that formed ys by kynde^ 

And therfore may I seyn, as thynketh me, 

This song in preysyng of this lady fre. 

Hyde, Absalon, thy gilte tresses clere ; 
Ester, ley thou thy mekenesse al adown ; 
Hyde, Jonathas, al thy frendly manere ; 
Penelopee, and Marcia Catoun ", 
Make of your wifhode no comparysoun ; 
Hyde ye your beautes, Ysoude '' and Eleyne, 
My lady comith, that al this may disteyne"*. 

' groves: 'embroidered with green branches.' 
* because gold would be heavy. ^ scarcely. * sparks. 

' nature. ^ i. e. wife of Cato. "^ Iseult. 

' stain ; make foul by comparison. 



46 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Thy faire body lat yt nat appere, 

Lavyne ; and thou Lucresse of Rome toune, 

And PoHxene, that boghten love so dere, 

And Cleopatre, with al thy passyoun, 

Hyde ye your trouthe of love, and your renoun, 

And thou, Tesb^, that hast of love suche peyne, 

My lady comith, that al this may disteyne. 

Hero, Dido, Laudomia, alle yfere^ 

And Phillis, hangyng for thy Demophoun, 

And Canace, espied by thy chere^, 

Ysiphile betraysed with Jasoun, 

Maketh of your trouthe neyther boost ne soun, 

Nor Ypermystre, or Adriane^, ye tweyne. 

My lady cometh, that all this may dysteyne. 



The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. 

Whan that Aprille with his schowres swoote 
The drought of Marche had perced to the roote, 
And bathed every veyne in swich licour. 
Of which vertue engendred is the flour ; 
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breethe 
Enspired hath in every holte and heethe 
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours i-ronne, 
And smale fowles maken melodic. 
That slepen al the night with open eye. 
So prikcth hem nature in here corages* : — 
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages. 
And palmers for to sceken straunge strondes, 
To feme halwcs, kouthe '^ in sondry londes ; 
And specially, from every schires ende 
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, 

' together. * (liscovcrcil by thy look. ' Aiimlne. 

* their hearts. * distant sahits, known. 



CHAUCER. 47 

The holy blisful martir for to seeke, 

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke \ 

Byfel that, in that sesoun on a day, 
In South werk at the Tabard as I lay, 
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage 
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, 
At night was come into that hostelrye 
Wei nyne and twenty in a compainye, 
Of sondry folk, by aventure i-falle 
In felaweschipe, and pilgry^ms were thei alle, 
That toward Caunterbury wolden r>'de ; 
The chambres and the stables weren wyde. 
And wel we weren esed atte beste^. 
And schortly, whan the sonne was to reste. 
So hadde I spoken with hem everjxhon, 
That I was of here felaweschipe anon. 
And made forward erly for to r>'se. 
To take our wey ther as I yow dev^^se. 
But natheles, whil I have tyme and space, 
Or^ that I forther in this tale pace, 
Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun, 
To telle yow al the condicioun 
Of eche of hem, so as it semede me. 
And whiche they weren, and of what degre ; 
And eek in what array that they were inne : 
And at a knight than wol I first bygynne. 
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man, 

That from the tyme that he first bigan 

To r>'den out, he lovede chyvalrye, 

Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye. 

Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre. 

And therto hadde he riden, noman ferre *, 

As wel in Cristendom as in hethenesse, 

And evere honoured for his worthinesse. 

At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne, 

Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bygonne^ 

> sick. * treated in the best way. ' Before. * further. 

* Either ' been served first at table,' or ' begun the tournament.' 



48 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Aboven alle naciouns in Pruce. 

In Lettowe hadde he reysed ^ and in Ruce, 

No cristen man so ofte of his degre. 

In Gernade atte siege hadde he be 

Of Algesir, and riden in Belmarie. 

At Lieys was he, and at Satalie, 

Whan they were wonne ; and in the Greete see 

At many a noble arive ^ hadde he be. 

At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene, 

And foughten for our feith at Tramassene 

In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo. 

This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also 

Somtyme with the lord of Palatye, 

Ageyn another hethen in Turkye : 

And evermore he hadde a sovereyn prys'. 

And though that he was worthy, he was wys, 

And of his port as meke as is a mayde. 

He nevere yit no vileinye ne sayde 

In al his lyf, unto no maner wight. 

He was a verray perfight gentil knight. 

But for to tellen you of his array. 

His hors was good, but he ne was nought gay. 

Of fustyan he werede a gepoun * 

Al bysmotered ^ with his habergeoun ^ 

For he was late ycome from his viage, 

And wente for to doon his pilgrimage. 

With him ther was his sone, a yong Squyer, 
A lovyere, and a lusty bacheler. 
With lokkes crulle '' as they were leyd in presse. 
Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse. 
Of his stature he was of even lengthe, 
And wonderly delyver *, and gret of strengthe. 
And he hadde ben somtyme in chivachyc'', 
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Picardye, 
And born him wcl, as of so litcl space, 
In hope to stonden in his lady grace. 



' camjiaigncd. 


''■ disembarkation. 


' hii^di fame. 


* tunic. 


soiled. 


* coal of mail. 


' curled. 


* active. 


military service. 









CHAUCER. 49 

Embrowded was he, as it were a mede 

Al ful of fresshe floures, white and reede. 

Syngynge he was, or floytynge S al the day ; 

He was as fressh as is the moneth of May. 

Schort was his goune, with sleeves longe and wyde. 

Wei cowde he sitte on hors, and faire ryde. 

He cowde songes make and wel endite, 

Juste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and write. 

So hote he lovede, that by nightertale^ 

He sleep nomore than doth a nightyngale. 

Curteys he was, lowly, and servysable, 

And carf3 byforn his fader at the table. 

A Yeman hadde he, and servauntz nomoo 
At that tyme, for him luste * ryde soo ; 
And he was clad in coote and hood of grene. 
A shef of pocok arwes brighte and kene 
Under his belte he bar ful thriftily. 
Wel cowde he dresse his takel yemanly ; 

His arwes drowpede nought with fetheres lowe. 

And in his hond he bar a mighty bowe. 

A not-heed^ hadde he with a broun visage. 

Of woode-craft wel cowde he al the usage. 

Upon his arm he bar a gay bracer", 

And by his side a swerd and a bokeler. 

And on that other side a gay daggere, 

Harneysed wel, and scharp as poynt of spere ; 

A Cristofre on his brest of silver schene. 

An horn he bar, the bawdrik was of grene ; 

A forster^ was he sothly, as I gesse. 
Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse, 

That of hire smylyng was ful symple and coy ; 

Hire grettest ooth ne was but by seynt Loy ' ; 

And sche was cleped madame Eglentyne. 

Ful wel sche sang the servise divyne, 

Entuned in hire nose ful semely ; 

And Frensch sche spak ful faire and fetysly^ 

I fluting. " night-time. ' carved. 

* it was his pleasure. = crop-head. " guard for the aims. 

7 forester. « St. Eligius. » neatly. 

VOL. I. E 



50 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, 

For Frensch of Parys was to hire unknowe. 

At mete wel i -taught was sche withalle ; 

Sche leet no morsel from hire lippes falle, 

Ne wette hire fyngres in hire sauce deepe. 

Wel cowde sche carie a morsel, and wel keepe, 

That no drope ne fille upon hire breste. 

In curteisie was set ful moche hire leste. 

Hire overlippe wypede sche so clene, 

That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene 

Of grece, whan sche dronken hadde hire draughte. 

Ful semely after hir mete sche raughte ^, 

And sikerly sche was of gret disport, 

And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port, 

And peynede hir''^ to countrefete cheere 

Of court, and ben estatlich of manere. 

And to ben holden digne of reverence. 

But for to speken of hir conscience, 

Sche was so charitable and so pitous, 

Sche wolde weepe if that sche saw a mous 

Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde. 

Of smale houndes hadde sche, that sche fedde 

With rosted flessh, or mylk and wastel breed ^. 

But sore weep sche if oon of hem were deed, 

Or if men smot it with a yerde smerte : 

And al was conscience and tendre herte. 

Ful semely hire wympel * i-pynched was ; 

Hir nose tretys®; hir eyen greye as glas ; 

Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed 

But sikerly sche hadde a fair forheed. 

It was almost a spannc brood, I trowe ; 

For hardily sche was not undergrowe. 

Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war. 

Of smal coral aboute hir arm sche bar 

A pcire of bedcs gauded ^ al with grene ; 

And thcron heng a broch of gold ful schene, 

' reached. '■' took trouble. ' cake {gastemi). * gorget. 

' well shaped. " The gnu, lies were the larger heads. 



CHAUCER. 



51 



On which was first i-write a crowned A, 
And after, Amor viticit omnia. 
Another Nonne with hir hadde sche, 
That was hir chapeleyne, and Prestes thre. 

A Monk ther was, a fair for the maistrye ', 
An out-rydere, that lovede venerye ; 
A manly man, to ben an abbot able. 
Ful many a deyntd hors hadde he in stable : 
And whan he rood, men mighte his bridel heere 
Gynglen in a whistlyng wynd as cleere, 
And eek as lowde as doth the chapel belle. 
Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle, 
The reule of seynt Maure or of seint Beneyt, 
Bycause that it was old and somdel streyt, 
This ilke monk leet olde thinges pace, 
And held after the newe world the space. 
He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen 2, 
That seith, that hunters been noon holy men ; 
Ne that a monk, whan he is reccheles^ 
Is likned to a fissch that is waterles ; 
This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre. 
But thilke text held he not worth an oystre. 
And I seide his opinioun was good. 
What* schulde he studie, and make himselven wood^, 
Upon a book in cloystre alway to powre. 
Or swynke with his handes, and laboure, 
As Austyn bit®.? How schal the world be served? 
Lat Austyn have his swynk to him reserved. 
Therfor he was a pricasour '' aright ; 
Greyhoundes he hadde as swifte as fowel in flight ; 
Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare 
Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. 
I saugh his sieves purfiled atte honde 
With grys ", and that the fyncste of a londe. 
And for to festne his hood under his chynne 
He hadde of gold y-wrought a curious pynne : 

' to a sovereign degree. 2 valued it less than a plucked hen. 

or, resetleis, away fiom his seat or station. < why. ' mad. 

bids (.biddcth). ' hunter. « grey fur. 

E 2 



52 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A love-knot in the grettere ende ther was. 
His heed was balled, that schon as eny glas, 
And eek his face, as he hadde ben anoynt. 
He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt ; 
His eyen steeped and rollyng in his heede, 
That stemede as a forneys of a leede^; 
His bootes souple, his hors in gret estat. 
Now certeinly he was a fair prelat ; 
He was not pale as a for-pyned^ goost. 
A fat swan lovede he best of eny roost. 
His palfrey was as broun as is a berye. 

A Frere there was, a wantown and a merye, 
A lymytour*, a ful solempne man. 
In alle the ordres foure is noon that can 
So moche of daliaunce and fair langage. 
He hadde i-mad ful many a mariage 
Of yonge wymmen, at his owen cost. 
Unto his ordre he was a noble post. 
Ful wel biloved and famulier was he 
With frankeleyns over-al in his cuntre, 
And eek with worthy wommen of the toun : 
For he hadde power of confessioun, 
As seyde himself, more than a curat, 
For of his ordre he was licentiat ^ 
Ful swetely herde he confessioun, 
And plesaunt was his absolucioun ; 
He was an esy man to yeve penaunce 
Ther as he wiste han ^ a good pitaunce ; 
For unto a poure ordre for to yive 
Is signe that a man is wel i-schrive. 
For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt, 
He wiste that a man was repentaunt. 
For many a man so hard is of his herte, 
He may not wepe although him sore smerte. 
Therfore in stede of wepyng and preyeres, 
Men moot yive silver to the pourii frercs. 

' bright. ' under a cauldron. ^ worn out. * a bcp^.ir 

over a certain district. '■' held a licence honi the I'opo. " wherc- 

ever he knew he would have. 



CHAUCER. 53 

His typet was ay farsed ful of knyfes 

And pynnes, for to yive faire wyfes. 

And certeynly he hadde a mery note ; 

Wei couthe he synge and pleyen on a rote'. 

Of yeddynges^ he bar utterly the prys. 

His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys. 

Therto he strong was as a champioun. 

He knew the tavernes wel in every toun, 

And everych hostiler and tappestere, 

Bet then a lazer, or a beggestere, 

For unto such a worthy man as he 

Acorded not, as by his faculte, 

To han with sike lazars aqueyntaunce. 

It is not honest, it may not avaunce. 

For to delen with no such poraille ^, 

But al with riche, and sellers of vitaille. 

And overal, ther as profyt schulde arise, 

Curteys he was, and lowly of servyse. 

Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous. 

He was the beste beggere in his hous. 

For though a widewe hadde noght oo schoo, 

So plesaunt was his In principio^, 

Yet wolde he have a ferthing or he wente. 

His purchas' was wel better than his rente. 

And rage he couthe as it were right a whelpe, 

In love-dayes ^ couthe he mochel helpe. 

For ther he was not lik a cloysterer. 

With a thredbare cope as is a poure scoler, 

But he was lik a maister or a pope. 

Of double worsted was his semy-cope, 

That rounded as a belle out of the presse. 

Somwhat he lipsede, for his wantownesse, 

To make his Englissch swete upon his tunge ; 

And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde sunge, 

His eyen twynkled in his heed aright, 

As don the sterriis in the frosty night. 

' harp, or fiddle. * songs. ' paupers. * St. John i. i, the usual 

friars' greeting. '■" what he got by begging. « days of arbitration. 



54 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd. 

A Marchaunt was ther with a forked herd, 
In motteleye, and high on hors he sat, 
Upon his heed a Flaundrisch bevere hat ; 
His botes elapsed faire and fetysly. 
His resons he spak ful solerp.pnely, 
Sownynge alway thencres of his wynnynge. 
He wolde the see were kept for^ eny thinge 
Betwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle. 
Wei couthe he in eschaunge scheeldes^ selle. 
This worthi man ful wel his wit bisette ; 
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette, 
So estatly was he of governaunce, 
With his bargayns, and with his chevysaunce ^. 
For sothe he was a worthy man withalle, 
But soth to sayn, I not how men him calle. 

A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also, 
That unto logik hadde longe i-go. 
As lane was his hors as is a rake, 
And he was not right fat, I undertake ; 
But lokede holwe, and therto soberly. 
Ful thredbar was his overest courtepy*. 
For he hadde geten him yit no benefice, 
Ne was so worldly for to have office. 
For him was levere have at his beddes heede 
Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reede, 
Of Aristotle and his philosophye, 
Then robes riche, or fithele, or gay sawtryif'. 
But al be that he was a philosophre, 
Yet hadde he but litcl gold in cofre ; 
But al that he mighte of his frendes hentc, 
On bookes and on lernyng he it spcnte, 
And busily gan for the soulcs preye 
Of hem that yaf him wherwith to scoleye ; 
Of studie took he most cure and most hcedc. 
Not oo word spak he more than was nccde, 

' for fear of. ' coins staniiicil with a shield : I'rux. 

'■' jjains. * siioit cloak. ■'* psaltery, iiarp. 



CHAUCER. 65 

And that was seid in forme and reverence 
And schort and quyk, and ful of high sentence. 
Sownynge in ^ moral vertu was his speche, 
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche. 

****** 

A good man was ther of religioun, 
And was a poure Persoun of a toun ; 
But riche he was of holy thought and werk. 
He was also a lemed man, a clerk, 
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche ; 
His parischens devoutly wolde he teche. 
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent, 
And in adversite ful pacient ; 
And such he was i-proved ofte sithesl 
Ful loth were him to curse for his tythes. 
But rather wolde he yeven, out of dowte. 
Unto his poure parisschens aboute, 
Of his offrynge, and eek of his substaunce. 
He cowde in litel thing han suffisaunce. 
Wyd was his parische, and houses fer asonder. 
But he ne lafte not for reyne ne thonder. 
In siknesse nor in meschief to visite 
The ferreste in his parissche, moche and lite, 
Upon his feet, and in his hond a staf. 
This noble ensample to his scheep he yaf, 
That first he wroughte, and afterward he taughte, 
Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte, 
And this figure he addede eek therto. 
That if gold ruste, what schal yren doo ? 
For if a prest be foul, on whom we truste. 
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste ; 
And schame it is, if that a prest tak keep, 
A [fihhy] schepherde and a clene scheep ; 
Wei oughte a prest ensample for to yive, 
By his clennesse, how that his scheep schulde lyve. 
He sette not his benefice to hyre, 
And leet his scheep encombred in the myre, 

^ tending towards. - oft-times. 



56 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And ran to Londone, unto seynte Poules, 
To seeken him a chaunterie for soules^, 
Or with a bretherhede to ben withholde ; 
But dwelte at hoom, and kepte -wel his folde, 
So that the wolf ne made it not myscary^e ; 
He was a schepherd and no mercenarie. 
And though he holy were, and vertuous, 
He was to sinful man nought despitous, 
Ne of his speche daungerous'^ ne digne, 
But in his teching discret and benigne. 
To drawe folk to heven by fairnesse 
By good ensample, this was his busynesse : 
But it were eny persone obstinat, 
What so he were, of high or lowe estat, 
Him wolde he snybbe scharply for the nones. 
A better preest, I trowe, ther nowher non is. 
He waytede after no pompe and reverence, 
Ne makede him a spiced^ conscience, 
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve, 
He taughte, but first he fohvede it himselve. 



The Tale of the Man of Lawe. 

[Custance is falsely charged with the murder of Dame Hermengild. 
The Knight who charges her is struck down for his perjury.] 

Alias ! Custance ! thou hast no champioun 
Ne fyghte canstow nought, so weylawcy ! 
But he, that starf for our redempcioun. 
And bond Sathan (and yit lyth ther* he lay) 
So be thy stronge champioun this day ! 
For, but if crist open miracle kythe", 
Withouten gilt thou shalt be slayn as swythe*. 

' an endowment for saying masses. ' haughty. 

* nice, fastidious. * where. ' show. ' quickly. 



CHAUCER. 57 



She sette her doun on knees, and thus she sayde, 

' Immortal god, that sauedest Susanne 

Fro false blame, and thow, merciful mayde, 

Mary I mene, doughter to Seint Anne, 

Bifore whos child aungeles singe Osanne, 

If I be giltlees of this felonye, 

My socour be, for elles 1 shal dye!' 

Haue ye not seyn som tyme a pale face, 
Among a prees, of him that hath be lad 
Toward his deth, wher as him gat no -grace, 
And swich a colour in his face hath had, 
Men myghte knowe his face, that was bistad', 
Amonges alle the faces in that route : 
So stant Custance, and looketh hir aboute. 

O queenes, lyuinge in prosperitee. 

Duchesses, and ladyes euerichone, 

Haueth som rewthe on hir aduersitee ; 

An emperoures doughter stant allone ; 

She hath no wight to whom to make hir mone. 

O blood roial ! that stondest in this drede, 

Fer ben thy frendes at thy grete nede ! 

This Alia king hath swich compassioun, 
As gentil herte is fulfild of pitee, 
That from his yen ran the water doun. 
'Now hastily do fecche a book,' quod he, 
' And if this knyght wol sweren how that she 
This womman slow, yet wole we vs auyse 
Whom that we wole that shal ben our lustyse.' 

A Briton book, writen with Euangyles, 
Was fet^ and on this book he swor anoon 
She gilty was, and in the mene whyles 
A hand him smot vpon the nekkc-boon, 
That doun he fel atones as a stoon. 
And both his yen braste out of his face 
In sight of eucry body in that place. 

1 in sore peril. ^ fetched. 



58 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A voys was herd in general audience, 

And seyde, ' thou hast disclaundered giltelees 

The doughter of holy chirche in hey presence ; 

Thus hastou doon, and yet holde I my pees.' 

Of this meruaille agast was al the prees ; 

As mased folk they stoden euerichone, 

For drede of wreche \ saue Custance allone. 

Gret was the drede and eek the repentance 

Of hem that hadden wrong suspeccioun 

Vpon this sely innocent Custance ; 

And, for this miracle, in conclusioun, 

And by Custances mediacioun, 

The king, and many another in that place, 

Conuerted was, thanked be Cristes grace ! 

This false knyght was slayn for his vntrewthe 

By lugement of Alia hastily ; 

And yet Custance hadde of his deth gret rewthe. 

And after this lesus, of his mercy. 

Made Alia wedden ful solempnely 

This holy mayden, that is so bright and sheene. 

And thus hath Crist ymaad Custance a queene. 



[Through the intrigues of Donegild, the queen mother, a forged letter is 
sent in the king's name bidding Custance to be banished and turned 
adrift in an open boat.] 

Wcpen both yonge and olde in al that place, 
Whan that the king this cursed letter sente, 
And Custance, with a deedly pale face, 
The ferthc day toward hir ship she wente. 
But nathiiles she taketh in good entente 
The vville of Crist, and, kneling on the stronde, 
She scydl-, 'lord ! ay wel-com be thy sonde''! 

' vengeance. ° sending, visitation. 



CHAUCER. 59 

He that me kepte fro the false blame 

Whyl I was on the londe amonges yow, 

He can me kepe from harme and eek fro shame 

In sake see, al-though I se nat how. 

As strong as euer he was, he is yet now. 

In him triste I, and in his moder dere, 

That is to me my seyl and eek my stere ^' 

Hir litel child lay weping in hir arm, 
And kneling, pitously to him she seyde, 
'Pees, litel sone, I wol do thee noon harm.' 
With that hir kerchef of hir heed she breyde, 
And ouer his litel yen she it leyde ; 
And in hir arm she lulleth it ful faste. 
And in-to heuen hir yen vp she caste. 

' Moder,' quod she, ' and mayde bright, Marye, 
Soth is that thurgh womannes eggement '^ 
Mankynd was lorn ^ and damned ay to dye, 
For which thy child was on a croys yrent ; 
Thy blisful yen seye al his torment ; 
Than is ther no comparisoun bitwene 
Thy wo and any wo man may sustene. 

Thou sey thy child yslayn bifor thyn yen, 
And yet now lyueth my litel child, parfay ! 
Now, lady bryght, to whom alle woful cryen. 
Thou glorie of wommanhede, thou fayre may, 
Thou hauen of refut, bryghte sterre of day, 
Rewe on my child, that of thy gentillesse 
Rewest on euery rewful in distresse ! 

O litel child, alias ! what is thy gilt. 
That neuer wroughtest sinne as yet, parde, 
Why vvil thyn harde fader han thee spilt*? 
O mercy, derif Constable!' quod she ; 
'As lat my litel child dwelle heer with thee ; 
And if thou darst not sauen him, for blame, 
So kis him ones in his fadres name ! ' 

* rudder. * incitement. ^ lost. * killed. 



6o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Ther-with she loketh bakward to the londe, 
And seyde, ' far-wel, housbond rewthelees ! ' 
And \^ she rist^, and walketh doun the stronde 
Toward the ship ; hir folweth al the prees, 
And euer she preyeth hir child to holde his pees ; 
And taketh hir leue, and with an holy entente 
She blisseth hir ;. and in-to ship she wente. 

Vitailled was the ship, it is no drede, 
Habundantly for hir ful longe space, 
And other necessaries that sholde nede 
She hadde ynough, heried - be Goddes grace ! 
For wynd and weder almyghty God purchace 
And bringe hir hoom ! I can no better seye ; 
But in the see she dryueth forth hir weye. 
****** 

[King Alia and Custance meet at Rome after many years.] 

Whan Alia sey his wyf, fayre he hir grette, 
And weep, that it was rewthe for to see. 
For at the firste look he on hir sette 
He knew wel verraily that it was she. 
And she for sorwe as domb stant as a tre ; 
So was hir herte shet in hir distresse 
Whan she remembred his vnkyndenesse. 

Twyes she swowned in his owen syghte ; 
He weep, and him excuseth pitously : — 
' Now God,' quod he, ' and alle his halvves ' bryghte 
So wisly ■* on my soule as haue mercy, 
That of your harm as giltelees am I 
As is Maurice my sone so lyk your face ; 
• Flics the feend me fecche out of this place !' 

Long was the sobbing and the bitter pcyne 
Er that her woful hertes myghtii cesse ; 
Greet was the pilii for to here hem pleyne 
Thurgh whiche pleyntes gan her wo cncresse. 
1 prey yow al my labour to relcsse ; 
' rises (riseth;. ' praised. ' saints. ^ certainly. 



CHAUCER. 6 1 

I may nat telle her wo vn-til tomorwe, 
I am so wery for to speke of sorwe. 

But fynally, when that the soth is wist 

That Alia giltelees was of hir wo, 

I trowe an hundred tymes been they kist, 

And swich a blisse is ther bitwix hem two 

That, saue the loye that lasteth euermo, 

Ther is noon lyk that any creature 

Hath seyn or shal, whyl that the world may dure. 



The Clerkes Tale. 

[Chaucer moralises on the story of Patient Grisildis.] 

Lenuoy de Chaucer. 

Grisild is deed, and eek hir pacience, 
And bothe atones buried in Itaille ; 
For which I crye in open audience, 
No wedded man so hardy be tassaille 
His wyues pacience, in hope to fynde 
Grisildes, for in certein he shal faille ! 

O noble wyues, ful of heigh prudence, 

Lat non humilitee your tonge naille, 

Ne lat no clerk haue cause or diligence 

To wryte of yow a storie of swich meruaillc 

As of Grisildis pacient and kynde ; 

Lest Chicheuache yow swelwe in hir entraille ' ! 

Folweth ^ Ekko, that holdeth no silence. 
But euere answereth at the countretaille ^ ; 

' An allusion to the old French fable of Chichevache and Bicorne, two 
monstrous cows, of which the former fed on patient wives and was conse- 
Ljuently thin, the latter on patient husbands and was always fat. 

■■* follow : eth is the termination of 2nd pers. plural imperative. 

* in return. 



62 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Beth nat bidaffed^ for your innocence, 
But sharply tak on yow the gouernaille. 
Emprinteth wel this lesson in your mynde 
For commune profit, sith it may auaille. 

Ye archewyues ^, stondeth at defence. 
Sin ye be stronge as is a greet camaille ; 
Ne sufifreth nat that men yow don offence. 
And slendre wyues, feble as in bataille, 
Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde ; 
Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille. 

Ne dreed hem nat, do hem no reuerence ; 

For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille, 

The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence 

Shal perce his brest, and eek his auentaille ^ ; 

In lalousye I rede eek thou him bynde, 

And thou shalt make him couche as doth a quaille. 

If thou be fair, ther folk ben in presence 

Shew thou thy visage and thy apparaille ; 

If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence, 

To gete thee frendes ay do thy trauaille ; 

Be ay of chere as lyght as leef on lynde *, 

And lat him care, and wepe, and wringe, and waille ! 



The Frankeleynes Tale. 

In Armoryke, that cleped is Briteyne, 

Ther was a knight, that lovede and dide his pcyne 

To serve a lady in his beste wise ; 

And many a labour, and many a greet emprise 

He for his lady wrought, er sche were wonne ; 

For sche was on the fairest ^ under sonne, 

befooled. * ruling wives. ' front of helmet. 

* the linden tree. '•' the one fairest. 



CHAUCER. 63 



And eek therto come of so heih kynrede, 

That wel unnethes dorste this knight for drede 

Telle hire his woo, his peyne, and his distresse. 

But atte laste sche for his worthinesse, 

And namely for his meke obeissance, 

Hath suche a pitd caught of his penaunce, 

That prively sche fel of his acord 

To take him for hir housbonde and hir lord, 

(Of suche lordschipe as men han over her ^ wyves) ; 

And, for to lede the more in blisse her lyves, 

Of his fre vville he swor hir as a knight, 

That never in al his lyf by day ne night 

Ne schulde he upon him take no maystrie 

Ayeins hir wille, ne kythe - hir jalousye, 

But hir obeye, and folwe hir wille in al, 

As any lovere to his lady schal ; 

Save that the name of sovereynet^, 

That wolde he han for schame of his degre. 

Sche thanketh him, and with ful grete humblesse 

Sche sayde : ' Sire, sith ^ of your gentilnesse 

Ye profre me to han so large a reyne, 

Ne wolde never God betwixe us tweyne, 

As in my gilt, were eyther werre or stryf 

Sire, \ wil be your humble trewe wijf^ 

Have heer my trouthe, til that myn herte breste.' 

Thus be they bothe in quiete and in reste. 

For o thing, syres, saufly dar I seye. 

That frendes everich other moot obeye, 

If they wille longe holden companye 

Love wol nought ben constreigned by maystrj'e. 

Whan maystrie cometh, the god of love anon 

Beteth his wynges, and fare wel, he is gon ! 

Love is a thing, as any spiryt, fre. 

Wommen of kynde desiren liberty, 

And nought to be constreigned as a thral ; 

And so do men, if I sooth seyen schal. 



their. ^ shew. 



64 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Here may men sen an humble wyse acord ; 

Thus hath sche take hire servaunt and hire lord, 

Servaunt in love, and lord in manage. 

Than was he bothe in lordschipe and servage ! 

Servage ? nay, but in lordschipe above, 

Sith he hath bothe his lady and his love ; 

His lady certes, and his wyf also. 

The whiche that lawe of love accordeth to. 

And whan he was in this prosperite, 

Hoom with his wyf he goth to his cuntre. 

Nought fer fro Penmark, ther his dwellyng was, 

Wher as he lyveth in blisse and in solas. 



[Arviragus goes to England for two years on military service, and leaves 
Dorigen at home.] 

Now stood hir castel faste by the see. 
And often with hir frendtfs walked sche, 
Hir to disporte upon the banke on heih, 
Wher as sche many a schippe and barge seih, 
Seylinge her cours, wher as hem liste go. 
But yit was ther a parcelle of hir wo, 
For to hir self ful often seyde sche, 
' Is there no schip, of so many as I se, 
Wole bryngen hoom my lord 1 than were myn herte 
Al waryssched ' of this bitter peynes smerte.' 

Another tyme ther wolde sche sitte and thinke. 
And caste hir eyen dounward fro the brynke ; 
But whan sche saugh the grisly rokkes blake, 
For verray fere so wolde hire herte quake. 
That on hire feet sche mighte hir nought sustene. 
Than wolde sche sitte adoun upon the grene, 
And pitously into the see byholde, 
And sayn right thus, with sorowful sikes* coldc. 
' EternC' God, that thurgh thy purveyaunce 
Ledest the world by ccrtcin govcrnuunce, 

' cured. ' sighs. 



CHAUCER. 65 



In ydel, as men sayn, ye nothing make. 
But, Lord, these grisly feendly rokkes blake, 
That semen rather a foul confusioun 
Of vverk, then any fayr creacioun 
Of suche a parfyt wys God and a stable, 
Why han ye wrought this werk unresonable ? 
For by this werk, south, north, ne west, ne est, 
Ther nis y-fostred man, ne brid, ne best ; 
Hit doth no good, to my wit, but anoyeth. 
Se ye nought, Lord, how mankynd it destroyeth? 
An hundred thousand bodyes of mankynde 
Han rokkes slayn, al be they nought in mynde ; 
Which mankynd is so fair part of thy werk, 
That thou it madest lyk to thyn owen werk, 
Than semed it, ye hadde a gret chierte^ 
Toward mankynd ; but how than may it be. 
That ye suche menes ^ make it to distroyen ? 
Whiche menes doth no good, but ever anoyen. 
I wot wel, clerkes woln sayn as hem leste. 
By argumentz, that al is for the beste, 
Though I ne can the causes nat yknowe ; 
But thilke God that made wynd to blowe, 
As kepe my lord, this is my conclusioun ; 
To clerkes lete I al disputison ^ ; 
But wolde God, that al the rokkes blake 
Were sonken into helle for his sake ! 
These rokkes sleen myn herte for the feere.' 
Thus wolde sche sayn with many a pitous teere. 

Hir freendes sawe that it nas no disport 
To romen by the see, but discomfort, 
And schopen* for to pleyen som where elles. 
They leden hir by ryveres and by welles, 
And eek in other places delitables ; 
They dauncen and they playe at chesse and tables'. 
So on a day, right in the morwe tyde, 
Unto a gardyn that was ther besyde, 

' charity. " means, ways. ^ disputing. 

* planned. '- backgammon, 

vol,. I. F 



66 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

In which that thay hadde made here ordinaunce 

Of vitaile, and of other purveyaunce, 

They gon and pleye hem al the longe day; 

And this was on the sixte morwe of May, 

Which jMay hadde peynted with his softe schoures 

This gardyn ful of leves and of floures : 

And crafte of mannes hand so curiously 

Arayed hath this gardyn trewely, 

That never nas ther gardyn of such prys, 

But if it were the verrey paradys. 

The odoure of floures and the fresshe sight, 

Wolde han made any pensyf herte hght 

That ever was born, but if to^ gret siknesse 

Or to gret sorwe held it in distresse ; 

So ful it was of beaute with plesaunce. 

And after dynere gonne they to daunce, 

And synge also, save Dorigen alone. 

Sche made alwey hir compleynt and hir mone, 

For sche ne saugh him on the daunce go. 

That was hir housbond, and hir love also ; 

But natheles sche moste a tyme abyde, 

And with good hope sche let hir sorwe slyde^. 

Upon this daunce, amonges other men, 
Daunced a squier biforen Dorigen, 
That fresscher was and jolyer of array. 
As to my dome, than is the month of May. 
He syngeth and daunceth passyng any man, 
That is or was sith that ^ this world bygan ; 
Therwith he was, if men schulde him discryve, 
On of the bestc farynge man on lyve, 
Yong, strong, ryht vertuous, and riche, and wys, 
And wel biloved, and holden in gret prys. 
And schortliche, if the soth I tellen schal, 
Unwytyng of this Dorigen at al. 
This lusty squyer, servaunt to Venus, 
Which that y-clcped was Aurelius, 
Had loved hire best of any crciiture 
Two yeer and more, as was his aventure ; 
* too. * pass. ' since. 



CHAUCER. 67 



But never durste he telle hir his grevaunce, 
Withoute cuppe^ he drank al his penaunce. 
He was dispeyred, nothing durste he seye, 
Save in his songes somwhat wolde he wreye^ 
His woo, as in a general compleyning ; 
He sayde, he lovede and was biloved nothing. 
Of suche matere made he many layes, 
Songes, compleintes, roundels, virelayes ; 
How that he durste nought his sorwe telle, 
But languissheth as a fury doth in helle ; 
And deye he moste, he seyde, as did Ekko 
For Narcisus, that durste nought telle hir wo. 
In other manere then^ ye here me seye 
Ne durste he nought to hir his wo bewreye, 
Save that paraventure som tyme at daunces, 
Ther* yonge folk kepen here observaunces, 
Hit may wel be he loked on hir face 
In such a wise, as man that asketh grace, 
But nothing wiste sche of his entent. 
Natheles it happed, er they thennes went, 
Bycause that he was hir neygheboure, 
And was a man of worschipe and honour, 
And hadde knowen him of tyme yore. 
They felle in speche, and ofte more and more 
Unto his purpos drow Aurelius ; 
And whan he saw his tyme, he sayde thus. 
* Madame,' quod he, ' by God, that this world made, 
So that I wiste it mighte your herte glade, 
I wolde that day, that your Arveragus 
Wente on the see, that I Aurelius 
Had went ther* I schulde never have come ayain ; 
For wel I woot my service is in vayn. 
My guerdon nys but bersting of myn herte. 
Madame, reweth upon my peynes smerte. 
For with a word ye may me sle or save. 
Her at your foot, God wold that I were grave ^ ! 
I have as now no Icyscr more to seye ; 
Have mercy, swete, or ye wole do me deye.' 
' without measure. ^ bewray, shew. ^ than. * where. ' buried. 

F 2 



68 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Sche gan to loke upon Aurelius ; 
' Is this your wil,' quod sche, ' and say ye thus ? 
Never erst,' quod sche, ' ne wiste I what ye mente. 
But now, Aurely, I knowe your entente. 
By thilke God, that yaf me soule and lyf, 
Ne schal I never ben untrewe v.'if 
In word ne werk ; as fer as I have wit, 
I wol ben his to whom that I am knit.' 
But after that in pley thus seyde sche : 
' Tak this for fynal answer as of me. 
AureHe,' quod sche, ' by heighe God above, 
Yit wol I graunte you to ben your love, 
(Sin I you se so pitously compleyne), 
Loke, what day that endelong^ Bryteyne 
Ye remewe alle the rokkes, ston by stoon. 
That thay ne lette schip ne boot to goon ; 
I say, whan j'e han maad the coost so clene 
Of rokkes, that ther nys no stoon y-sene, 
Than wol I love yow best of any man, 
Have heer my trouthe, in al that ever I can.' 
'Is ther non other grace in you?' quod he. 
' No, by that Lord,' quod sche, ' that made me. 
For wel I wot that that schal never betyde. 
Let such folye out of youre herte slyde. 
What deynte schulde man have by his lijf, 
For to go love another mannes wyf?' 
Wo was Aurely whan that he this herde, 
And with a sorwful herte he thus answerde. 
' Madame,' quod he, ' this were an impossfble. 
Than mot I deye on sodeyn deth orrible.' 
And with that word he torned him anon. 

■ifi if. ^ i(. ^ i(i 

[Aurelius applies to a ' subtil clerke ' of Orleans, who by magical arts 
causes all the rocks to seem to disappear. He then goes to Dorigcn, 
and claims her promise.] 

He taketh his Icve, and sche astoniiid stood ; 
In alle hir face ther nas oon drop of blood ; 

' all along. 



CHAUCER. 69 

Sche wende never have come in such a trappe. 

* Alias ! ' quod sche, ' that ever this schulde happe ! 

For wende I never by possibility, 

That such a monstre or merveyl mighte be ; 

It is agayns the proces of nature.' 

And hom sche goth a sorwful creature, 

For verray fere unnethe may sche go. 

Sche wepeth, wayleth al a day or two, 

And swowneth, that it routhe was to see ; 

But why it was, to no wight tolde sche, 

For out of toune was goon Ar\iragus. 

But to hir self sche spak, and sayde thus, 

With face pale, and with ful sorwful cheere, 

In hir compleint, as ye schul after heere. 



[Dorigen complains to Fortune.] 

Thus playned Dorigen a day or tweye, 
Purposyng ever that sche wolde deye ; 
But natheles upon the thridde night 
Hom cam Arveragus, the worthy knight, 
And asked hir why that sche weep so sore ; 
And sche gan wepen ever lenger the more. 

' Alias ! ' quod sche, ' that ever was I born ! 
Thus have I sayd,' quod sche, ' thus have I sworn ; ' 
And told him al, as ye han herd bifore ; 
It nedeth nought reherse it you no more. 

This housbond with glad cheere in frendly wise 
Answerde and sayde, as I schal you devyse. 

* Is ther aught elles, Dorigen, but this.?' 

' Nay, nay,' quod sche, ' God helpe me so as wis \ 
This is to moche, and it were Goddes wille.' 

* Ye, wyf,' quod he, ' let slepen that is stille, 
It may be wel peraunter yet to day. 

Ye schal your trouthii holden, by my fay. 
For God so wisly^ have mercy upon me, 
1 hadde wel lever y-stikid * for to be, 

* for a certainty, certainly, * stabbed. 



70 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



For verray love which that I to j'ou have, 
But-if ye scholde your trouthe kepe and save. 
Trouthe is the heighest thing that men may kepe.' 
But with that word he gan anoon to wepe, 
And sayde, ' I yow forbede up peyne of deth, 
That never whil thee lasteth lyf or breth, 
To no wight telle thou of this aventure. 
As I may best, I wil my woo endure. 
Ne make no contenaunce of hevynesse. 
That folk of you may demen harm or gesse.' 
And forth he cleped a squyer and a mayde. 
'Go forth anoon with Dorigen,' he sayde, 
' And bryngeth hir to such a place anoon.' 
They take her leve, and on her wey they gon ; 
But they ne wiste why sche thider wente, 

He nolde no wight tellen his entente 

This squyer, which that highte Aurelius, 
On Dorigen that was so amorous, 
Of adventure happed hir to mete 
Amyd the toun, right in the quyke strete ; 
As sche was boun to goon the wey forth-right 
Toward the gardyn, ther as sche had hight. 
And he was to the gardyn-ward also ; 
For vvel he spyed whan sche wolde go 
Out of hir hous, to any maner place. 
But thus thay mette, of adventure or grace, 
And he salueth hir with glad entente. 
And askith of hir whider-ward sche wente. 
And sche answerde, half as sche were mad, 
' Unto the gardyn, as myn housbond bad, 
My trouthe for to holde, alias ! alias ! ' 
Aurilius gan wondren on this cas ^, 
And in his herte hadde gret compassioun 
Of hir, and of hir lamentacioun. 
And of Arveragus the worthy knight, 
That bad hir holden al that sche hadde hight, 
So loth him was his wif schuld breke hir trouthe. 
And in his hert he caughte of this gret routhe, 
* case, circumstance. 



CHA UCER. 7 1 



Consideryng the best on every syde, 

That fro his hist yet were him lever abyde, 

Than doon so heigh a cherhssch wrecchednesse 

Agayns fraunchise ^ of alle gentilesse ; 

For which in fewe wordes sayde he thus. 

' Madame, saith to your lord Arveragus, • 

That sith I se his grete gentilesse 

To you, and eek I se wel your distresse, 

That him were lever han schame (and that were routhe) 

Than ye to me schulde breke thus your trouthe, 

I have wel lever ^ ever to suffre woo, 

Than I departe' the love bytwix yow two. 

I yow relesse, madame, into your hond 

Ouyt every seurement and every bond 

That ye han maad to me as herebiforn, 

Sith thilke tyme which that ye were born. 

My trouthe I plighte, I schal yow never reprove* 

Of no byhest ^ and heer I take my leve, 

As of the trewest and the beste wif 

That ever yit I knew in al my lyf. 

But every wyf be war of hir byheste, 

On Dorigen remembreth atte leste. 

Thus can a squyer doon a gentil dede 

As wel as can a knyght, withouten drede.' 

Sche thanketh him upon hir knees al bare, 
And hoom unto hir housbond is sche fare. 
And told him al, as ye han herd me sayd ; 
And, be ye siker, he was so wel apayd", 
That it were impossible me to write. 
What schuld I lenger of this cas endite ? 
Arveragus and Dorigen his wyf 
In sovereyn blisse leden forth her lyf. 
Never eft ne was ther anger hem bytwene ; 
He cherisscheth hir as though sche were a quene, 
And sche was to him trewe for evermore; 
Of these two folk ye gete of me nomore. 

* generosity. ^ I prefer. ' divide. * reprove. 

* piomi:,c. * paid, pleased. 



72 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Knightes Tale. 
[Palamon and Arcite first see Emelye from the prison window.] 

This passeth yeer by yeer, and day by day, 

Til it fel oones, in a morwe of May, 

That Emelie, that fairer was to scene 

Than is the lilie on hir stalke grene, 

And fresscher than the May with floures newe — 

For with the rose colour strof hire hewe, 

I not ^ which was the fayrere of hem two — 

Er it were day, as was hire wone'^ to do, 

Sche was arisen, and al redy dight ; 

For May wol han no sloggardye anight. 

The sesoun priketh every gentil herte, 

And maketh him out of his sleep to sterte, 

And seith, 'Ar>'s, and do thyn observaunce.' 

This makede Emelye han remembraunce 

To don honour to May, and for to ryse. 

I -clothed was sche fresshe for to devyse. 

Hir yelwe heer was browded in a tresse, 

Byhynde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse. 

And in the gardyn at the sonne upriste 

Sche walketh up and doun, and as hir liste 

Sche gadereth floures, party whyte and reede, 

To make a sotil gerland for hire heede, 

And as an aungel hevenlyche sche song. 

The grete tour, that was so thikke and strong, 

Which of the castel was the cheef dongcoun, 

(Ther as the knightes wercn in prisoun, 

Of which I toldc yow, and tellen schal) 

Was even joynant '' to the gardyn-wal, 

Ther as this Emelye hadde hire pleyynge. 

Bright was the sonne, and cleer that morwenynge, 

And Palamon, this woful prisoner. 

As was his wone ^, by levc of his gayler, 

> ne wot, know not. ' wont, custom. ' adjoining. 



CIIA UCER. 

Was risen, and romede in a chambre on heigh, 

In which he al the noble cit^ seigh, 

And eek the gardyn, ful of braunches grene, 

Ther as this fresshe Emely the scheene 

Was in hir walk, and romede up and doun. 

This sorweful prisoner, this Palamon, 

Gooth in the chambre, romyng to and fro, 

And to himself compleynyng of his woo ; 

That he was born, ful ofte he seyde, alas ! 

And so byfel, by aventure or cas ^, 

That thurgh a wyndow thikke, of many a barre 

Of iren greet, and squar as eny sparre'^, 

He caste his eyen upon Emelya, 

And therwithal he bleynte ^ and cryede, a ! 

As though he stongen were unto the herte. 

And with that crye Arcite anon up-sterte. 

And seyde, ' Cosyn myn, what eyleth the. 

That art so pale and deedly on to see ? 

Why crydestow ? who hath the doon offence ? 

For Goddes love, tak al in pacience 

Our prisoun, for it may non other be ; 

Fortune hath yeven us this adversity. 

Som wikke aspect or disposicioun 

Oi Saturne, by som constellacioun. 

Hath yeven us this, although we hadde it sworn ; 

So stood the heven whan that we were born ; 

We mote endure it : this is the schort and pleyn.' 

This Palamon answerde, and seyde ageyn, 
* Cosyn, for sothe of this opynyoun 
Thou hast a veyn ymaginacioun. 
This prisoun caused me not for to crye. 
But I was hurt right now thurghout myn eye 
Into myn herte, that wol my bane be. 
The fairnesse of that lady that I see 
Yond in the gardyn rome to and fro, 
Is cause of al my crying and my wo. 
I not whether sche be womman or goddesse ; 
But Venus is it, sothly as I gesse.' 

' accident or chance. * bolt. ^ bleiicheil, started. 



73 



74 THE ENGLISH FOETS. 

And therwithal on knees adoun he fil, 

And seyde : 'Venus, if it be thy wil 

Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure, 

Biforn me sorweful wrecche creature, 

Out of this prisoun help that we may scape. 

And if so be my destind be schape 

By eterne word to deyen in prisoun, 

Of our lynage have sum compassioun, 

That is so lowe y-brought by tyrannye.' 

And with that word Arcite gan espye 

Wher as this lady romede to and fro. 

And with that sighte hir beaute hurte him so, 

That if that Palamon was wounded sore, 

Arcite is hurt as moche as he, or more. 

And with a sigh he seyde pitously : 

'The fressche beaute sleeth me sodeynly 

Of hir that rometh in the yonder place ; 

And but I have hir mercy and hir grace, 

That I may seen hir atte leste weye, 

I nam but ' deed ; ther nys no more to seye.' 



[Arcite has been released from prison, and Palamon ha3 escaped. They 
meet in a wood near Athens.] 

And with that word he fel doun in a traunce 
A long tyme ; and after he upsterte "^ 
This Palamon, that thoughte that thurgh his hcrte 
He felte a cold swerd sodeynliche glyde ; 
For ire he quook^, no lengcr nolde he byde. 
And whan that he hadde herd Arcitcs tale, 
As he were wood*, with face deed and pale. 
He sterte him up out of the bussches thikke, 
And seyde : 'Arcytc, false traitour wikke. 
Now art thou hent '\ that lovcst my lady so, 
For whom that I have al this peyne and wo, 
And art my blood, and to my counscil sworn, 

* am mcicly. ■' stalled up. ' quaked. 

• mad. '' caught. 



CHAUCER. 75 



As I ful ofte have told thee heer byforn, 

And hast byjaped^ heer duk Theseus, 

And falsly chaunged hast thy name thus ; 

I wol be deed, or elles thou schalt dye. 

Thou schalt not love my lady Emelye, 

But I wil love hir oonly and no mo ; 

For I am Palamon, thy mortal fo. 

And though that I no wepne have in this place, 

But out of prisoun am astert by grace, 

I drede not that outher thou schalt dye, 

Or thou ne schalt not loven Emelye. 

Ches "^ which thou wilt, for thou schalt not asterte ^' 

This Arcite, with ful despitous herte, 

Whan he him knew, and hadde his tale herd. 

As fers as lyoun pullede out a swerd, 

And seide thus : ' By God that sit * above, 

Nere it^ that thou art sik and wood for love, 

And eek that thou no wepne hast in this place. 

Thou schuldest nevere out of this grove pace, 

That thou ne schuldest deyen of myn hond. 

For I defye ^ the seurte and the bond 

Which that thou seyst that I have maad to the. 

What, verray fool, think wel that love is fre ! 

And I wol love hir mawgre^ al thy might. 

But, for as muche thou art a worthy knight, 

And wilnest to derreyne hir by batayle, 

Have heer my trouthe, to-morwe I nyl not fayle, 

Withouten wityng* of any other wight, 

That heer I wol be founden as a knight, 

And brjTigen barneys right inough for the ; 

And ches'"' the baste, and leve the worste for me. 

And mete and drynke this night wil I brjmge 

Inough for the, and clothes for thy beddynge. 

And if so be that thou my lady wynne, 

And sle me in this woode ther I am inne. 

Thou maist wel han thy lady as for me.' 

This Palamon answerde : ' I graunte it the.' 

* tricked. ^ choose. ' escape. * sitteth. 

' were it not. * reject. ' in spite of. ' knowledge. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And thus they ben departed til a-morwe, 

When ech of hem hadde leyd his feith to borwe 

O Cupide, out of alle charitd ! 
O regne, that wolt no felawe han with the ! 
Ful soth is seyd, that love ne lordschipe 
Wol not, his thankes \ han no felaweschipe. 
Wei fynden that Arcite and Palamoun. 
Arcite is riden anon unto the toun, 
And on the morwe, er it were dayes light, 
Ful prively two harneys hath he dight, 
Bothe suffisaunt and mete to darreyne 
The batayle in the feeld betwixe hem tweyne. 
And on his hors, allone as he was born, 
He caryeth al this harneys him byforn ; 
And in the grove, at tyme and place i-set. 
This Arcite and this Palamon ben met. 
Tho "^ chaungen gan the colour in here face. 
Right as the honter in the regne of Trace 
That stondeth at the gappe with a spere, 
Whan honted is the lyoun or the here, 
And hereth him come ruschyng in the grevcs, 
And breketh bothe bowes and the leves, 
And thinketh, ' Here comth my mortel enemy, 
Withoute faile, he mot^ be deed or I ; 
For eyther I mot slen him at the gappe, 
Or he mot sleen me, if that me myshappe :' 
So ferden they, in chaungyng of here hewe, 
As fer as everich of hem other knewe. 
Ther nas no ' good day,' ne no saluyng ; 
But streyt withouten word or rehersyng, 
Everych of hem halp * for to armen other, 
As frendly as he were his owiin brother ; 
And after that with scharpe speres stronge 
They foynen ech at other wonder longe. 
Thou myghtcst wenii that this Palamon 
In his fightynge were as a wood' lyoun, 
And as a cruel tygrc was Arcite : 
As wildci boorcs gonnc they to smyte 
willingly. "^ then. ° must, shall. < Iidpcd. » mad. 



CHAUCER. 77 



That frothen white as foom for ire wood. 
Up to the ancle foughte they in her blood. 

****** 

[The poet describes the Temples of Venus and Mars, where Arcite and 
Palamon are about to offer their prayers before the final combat.] 

First in the temple of Venus maystow se 
Wrought on the wal, ful pitous to byholde, 
The broken slepes, and the sykes ^ colde ; 
The sacred teeres, and the waymentyng ; 
The fyry strokes of the desiryng, 
That loves servauntz in this lyf enduren ; 
The othes, that her covenantz assuren. 
Plesaunce and hope, desyr, fool-hardynesse, 
Beaute and youthe, bauderye, richesse, 
Charmes and force, lesynges, flaterye, 
Dispense, busynesse, and jelousye, 
That werede of yelwe goldes ^ a gerland, 
And a cokkow sittyng on hir hand ; 
Festes, instrumentes, caroles, daunces, 
Lust and array, and alle the circumstaunccs 
Of love, whiche that I rekned have and schal, 
By ordre weren peynted on the wal. 
And mo than I can make of mencioun. 
For sothly, al the mount of Citheroun, 
Ther^ Venus hath hir principal dwellyng, 
Was schewed on the wal in portreying, 
With al the gardyn, and the lustynesse. 
Nought was foryete* the porter Ydelnesse, 
Ne Narcisus the fayre of yore agon, 
Ne yet the folye of kyng Salamon, 
Ne eek the grete strengthe of Hercules, 
Thenchauntementz of Mddea and Circes, 
Ne of Turnus with the hardy fiers corage. 
The riche Cresus, caytif '^ in servage ^ 
Thus may ye seen that wisdom ne richesse, 
Beaute ne sleighte, strengthe, ne hardynesse, 

' sifjhs. ^ marigolds. ^ where. * forj^olten. 

' captive. * ser%'itude. 



78 THE ENGLISH FOETS. 

Ne may with Venus holde champartye\ 

For as hir list the world than may sche gye^, 

Lo, alle thise folk i-caught were in hir las', 

Til they for wo ful often sayde alias. 

Sufificeth heer ensamples oon or tuo, 

And though * I couthe rekne a thousend mo. 

The statue of Venus, glorious for to see, 

Was naked fletyng® in the large see, 

And fro the navel doun al covered was 

With wawes " grene, and brighte as any glas. 

A citole^ in hir right hond hadde sche, 

And on hir heed, ful semely for to see, 

A rose garland, fresch and wel smellyng. 

Above hir heed hir dowves flickeryng. 

Bifom hir stood hir sone Cupido, 

Upon his schuldres wynges hadde he two ; 

And blynd he was, as it is ofte seene ; 

A bowe he bar and arwes brighte and kene. 

Why schulde I nought as wel eek telle you al 

The portreiture, that was upon the wal 

Withinne the temple of mighty Mars the reede ? 

Al peynted was the wal in lengthe and breede 

Lik to the estres * of the grisly place, 

That highte ^ the grete temple of Mars in Trace, 

In thilke colde frosty regioun, 

Ther as Mars hath his sovereyn mansioun. 

First on the wal was peynted a forest. 

In which ther dwelleth neyther man ne best^°, 

With knotty knarry bareyne trees olde 

Of stubbcis scharpe and hidous to byholde ; 

In which ther ran a swymbcl in a swough '^, 

As though a storm schulde bersten every bough : 

And downward on an hil under a bente ", 

Ther stood the temple of Marz armypotente, 

Wrought al of burned" steel, of which thentrd 

' divided empire. '^ guide, turn. ^ lace, snare. * never- 
theless. • floating. • waves. '' harp. ' interior. 
'•• is called. '" beast, animal. " moaning in a gust. ''^ slope. 
'^ burnished. 



CHAUCER. 



Was long and streyt\ and gastly for to see. 

And therout cam a rage and such a vese", 

That it made al the gates for to rese^ 

The northern light in at the dores schon, 

For wyndowe on the wal ne was ther noon, 

Thurgh which men mighten any light discerne. 

The dore was al of ademaunt eterne, 

I-clenched overthwart and endelong* 

With iren tough ; and, for to make it strong, 

Every piler the temple to susteene 

Was tonne gi^eet*", of iren bright and schene. 

Ther saugh I first the derke ymaginyng 

Of felonye, and al the compassyng ; 

The cruel ire, as reed as eny gleede ^ ; 

The pikepurs, and eek the pale drede ; 

The smyler with the knyf under the cloke ; 

The schepne '' brennyng ^ with the blake smoke ; 

The tresoun of the murtheryng in the bed ; 

The open werre, with woundes al bi-bled ; 

Contek® with bloody knyf, and scharp manace. 

Al ful of chirkyng ^^ was that sory place. 

The sleere of himself" yet saugh I there. 

His herte-blood hath bathed al his here ; 

The nayl y-dryven in the schode ^- a-nyght ; 

The colde deth, with mouth gapyng upright. 

Amyddes of the temple sat meschaunce, 

With disconfort and sory contenaunce. 

Yet saugh I woodnesse ^^ laughying in his rage ; 

Armed complaint, outhees ", and fiers outrage. 

The caroigne ^^ in the bussh, with throte y-corve ^^ : 

A thousand slain, and not of qualme y-storve '^ ; 

The tiraunt, with the prey by force y-raft ^* ; 

The toun destroyed, ther was no thyng laft. 

Yet sawgh I brent " the schippes hoppesteres -" ; 

slrait, narrow. ' rush. ' shnke. ^ acros> and 

downwards. •' great as a tun. * live coal. ' stable. 

* burning. ' strife. ^^ shrieking. " suicide. " temple. 

" madness. '* outcry. *' carcase. '^ cut. " dead of 

sickness. *' reft. " burnt. •" the dancing ships. 



8o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The hunte ^ strangled with the wilde bares ^ : 
The sowe freten ^ the child right in the cradel ; 
The cook i-skalded, for al his longe ladel. 
Nought was foryete* by^ the infortune of Marte ; 
The cartere over-ryden with his carte, 
Under the whel ful lovve he lay adoun. 
Ther were also of Martes divisioun, 
The harbour, and the bocher ; and the smyth 
That forgeth scharpe swerdes on his stith ^ 
And al above depeynted''' in a tour 
Saw I conquest sittyng in gret honour, 
With the scharpe swerd over his heed 
Hangynge by a sotil* twynes threed. 



Good Counseil of Chaucer. 

Fie fro the pres, and dwelle with sothfastnesse ; 
Suffice thee thy good, though hit be smal ; 
For hord hath hate, and clymbyng tikelnesse®, 
Pres hath envye, and wele blent over al ^". 
Savour no more then thee behove shal ; 
Do wel thy-self that other folk canst rede. 
And trouthe thee shal delyver, hit ys no drcde". 

Peyne thee not eche croked to rcdresse 

In trust of hir that turneth as a bal", 

Gret reste stant in lytil besynesse ; 

Bewar also to spurne ayein a nal ^^, 

Stryve not as doth a crokke with a wal" ; 

Dauntci thy-selfe that dauntest otheres dede, 

And trouthe thee shal delyver, hit is no drede. 

' hunter. '^ bears. ' (I saw) the sow eat. * for^'otten. 
" as regards. " anvil. '' painted. ' subtle, thin. " in- 
security. '" wealth everywhere blinds people. " there is no doubt. 
" i.e. Fortune. " an awl. " i.e. as weak does with strong. 



CHAUCER. 8 1 

That thee is sent receyve in buxumnesse^ 
The wrasteHng of this world asketh ^^ a fal ; 
Heer is no hoom, heer is but wyldernesse. 
Forth pilgrime, forth ! forth best, out of thy stal ! 
Loke up on hye, and thonke God of al ; 
Weyve^ thy lust, and let thy gost thee lede. 
And trouthe shal thee delyver, hit is no drede. 



Ij'Envoye *. 

Therfor, thou vache ^, leve thyn old wrecchednesse ; 

Unto the worlde leve now to be thral " ; 

Crye him mercy, that of his heigh goodnesse 

Made thee of naught ; and, in especial, 

Draw unto him, and pray in general 

For thee, and eek for other, hevenly mede "^ ; 

And trouthe schal thee delivere, it is no drede. 

' with submission. ^ brings. ^ gg^ ^^^^^^ ^ jj^j^ stanza 

is only in MS. Addit. 10340 (Brit. Mus.). * cow, poor creature. 

' cease to be a slave to the world. '^ reward. 



VOL. I. 



POEMS COMMONLY ATTRIBUTED TO CHAUCER. 



The Romaunt of the Rose. 

It has already been said (p. 7) that Chaucer translated the 
Romaunt^ and that a version has been current under his name for 
centuries. There is only one MS. of this translation, in the 
Hunterian Museum at Glasgow, so that we have no means of 
comparing texts, and thus settling the difficult questions that have 
been raised about it. As it stands, the poem contains various 
features which, in the opinion of the most advanced school of 
Chaucerian criticism, mark it out as being not Chaucer's ; the 
principal difficulty being connected with the rhymes, some of 
which seem to be irreconcileable with Chaucer's principles of 
pronunciation. The question cannot be properly discussed here, 
but in deference to what seems to be the balance of opinion 
we quote the Rotnaunt under the head of ' Poems attributed to 
Chaucer.' The passage given is remarkable as the original of 
the ' May morning ' passages which abound in Chaucer and his 
successors. Whether by Chaucer or not, it is a vigorous and exact 
rendering of the French. 

That it was May me thoughte tho ', 

It is .V. yere or more ago ; 

That it was May, thus dremed me, 

In tyme of love and jolitd. 

That al thing gynneth waxen gay. 

For ther is neither busk nor hay'^ 

In May, that it nyl shrouded been, 

And it with newe leves wreen ^. 

These wodes eek recoveren grene, 

That drie in wynter ben to sene ; 

And the erth wexith proud withallc, 

For swotc dcwes that on it fallc j 

And the pore estat forget, 

In which that wynter had it set. 

* then. ^ hedge. ' cover. 



POEMS ATTRIBUTED TO CHAUCER. 83 

And than bycometh the ground so proud. 
That it wole have a newe shroud, 
And makith so queynt his robe and faire. 
That it had hewes an hundred payre, 
Of gras and flouris, ynde and pers ^, 
And many hewes full dyvers : 
That is the robe I mene, iwis, 
Through which the ground to preisen is. 

The briddes, that han left her song, 
While thei han suffrid cold so strong 
In wedres grj^l" and derk to sighte, 
Ben in May for the sonne brighte, 
So glade, that they she we in syngj'ng, 
That in her hertis is sich lykyng, 
That they mote syngen and be light. 
Than doth the nyghtyngale hir myght. 
To mak noyse, and syngen blythe. 
Than is blisful many sithe^. 
The chelaundre *, and the papyngay. 
Than younge folk entenden ay, 
For to ben gay and amorous. 
The tyme is than so savorous. 

Hard is the hert that loveth nought 
In May, whan al this mirth is wrought ; 
Whan he may on these braunches here 
The smale briddes syngen clere 
Her bhsful swete song pitous. 
And in this sesoun delytous : 
Whan love affraieth® alle thing, 

Methought a nyght, in my sleping, 
Right in my bed ful redily. 
That it was by the morowe erly, 
And up I roos, and gan me clothe ; 
Anoon I wissh" myn hondis bothe j 
A sylvre nedle forth I drough 
Out of an aguler^ queynt ynough, 

* azure and blue-gray. "^ horrible storms. ' times. " goldfinch. 

' disturbs. « washed. '' needle-case. 

G 2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And gan this nedle threde anon ; 
For out of toun me list to gon, 
The song of briddes for to here 
That in thise buskes syngen clere, 
And in the swete seson that leve is ; 
With a threde bastyng my slevis, 
Alone I wente in my playing, 
The smale foules song harknyng. 
They peyned hem ful many peyre, 
To synge on bowes blosmed feyre \ 
Joly and gay, ful of gladnesse. 
Toward a ryver gan I me dresse, 
That I herd renne faste by ; 
For fairer playing non saugh I 
Than playen me by that ryvere. 
For from an hille that stood ther nere. 
Cam doun the streme ful stif and bold, 
Cleer was the water, and as cold 
As any welle is, sooth to seyn. 
And somdele lasse it was than Seyn, 
But it was straiter, wel-away ! 
And never saugh I, er that day. 
The watir that so wel lyked me ; 
And wondir glad was I to se 
That lusty place, and that ryvere ; 
And with that watir that ran so clere 
My face I wissh. Tho saugh I wel. 
The botme paved everydeP 
With gravel, ful of stones shene. 
The medewe softii, swote, and grene. 
Beet right up on the watir-syde. 
Ful clere was than the morow-tyde, 
And ful attempre, out of drede ''. 
Tho gan I walke thorough the mede, 
Dounward ay in my pleying, 
The ryver-syde costeying. 

blossomed fair. ^ everywhere. ' attempered, without doubt. 



POEMS ATTRIBUTED TO CHAUCER. 



The Flower and the Leaf. 

The Floiver and the Leaf, written, according to internal evi- 
dence, by a lady, and about 1450, follows out a fancy of French 
origin which had already in Chaucer's time found its way into the 
stock poetical material of the age, and to which he makes reference 
in The Legende of Goode Women. 

' But helpeth, ye that han conning and might, 
Ye lovers, that can make of sentement ; 
In this case oughte ye be diligent 
To ferthren me somewhat in my labour, 
Whether ye been \vith the leafe or with the flour.* 

The followers of the Flower 

' Are such folk that loved idlenesse, 
And not deliten in no businesse, 
But for to hunte and hauke and play in medes 
And many other suchlike idle dedes:' 

whereas the company of the Leaf, wearing laurel chaplets, ' whose 
lusty green may not appaired be ' by winter storms or frosts, 
represent the brave and steadfast of all ages, the great knights and 
champions, the constant lovers and pure women of past and 
present times. 

The poem opens with the usual spring morning, and the de- 
scription of a woodland arbour hedged round with sycamore and 
eglantine, and haunted with the songs of birds. Thence the poet 
sees the rival companies of the Flower and the Leaf scattered over 
the plain outside, and describes their dresses and equipments with 
a length and wearisome detail which would alone mark off the 
poem from Chaucer's work. A storm comes on, which drenches 
the flower-chaplets and green dresses of Flora's train, while it 
leaves those of the Leaf unharmed. These bring shelter and 
friendly help to the followers of the Flower, and then the two 
companies pass singing out of sight, and a 'fair lady,' herself 
a servant of the Leaf, explains to the poet the meaning of the 
vision. 

Dryden's paraphrase of this poem, which he of course believed 
to be by Chaucer, is well known. 



86 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

[The author having passed a sleepless night, though why she knows not, 
as she has neither sickness nor disease, wanders out early.] 

And up I roos three houres after twelfe, 
Aboute the [eriy] springing of the day ; 
And on I putte my geare and mine array, 
And to a pleasaunt grove I gan to passe, 
Long or the brighte Sonne up-risen was ; 

In which were okes grete, straight as a Hne, 
Under the which the gras, so fresh of hew, 
Was newly spronge ; and an eight foot or nine 
Every tree wel fro his fellow grew, 
With branches brode, laden with leves new, 
That sprongen out ayen the sunne shene. 
Some very red, and some a glad light grene ; 

Which, as me thoughte, was right a plesant sight ; 

And eke the briddes songes for to here 

Would have rejoyced any earthly wight ; 

And I that couthe not yet, in no manere, 

Here the nightingale of all the yere, 

P'ul busily herkned with hart and ere, 

If I her voice perceive coude any- where. 

And, at the last, a path of little breede^ 

I found, that gretly hadde not used be ; 

For it forgrowen was with grasse and weede, 

That well unneth a wight [ne] might it se : 

Thoght I, 'This path some whider goth, pardc !' 

And so I followed, till it me brought 

To right a pleasaunt herber,'^ well ywrought. 

That benched was, and eke with turfes newe 

Freshly turved, whereof the grene gras. 

So small, so thicke, so short, so fresh of hewe, 

That most ylike grene wool, I wot, it was : 

The hegge also that yede in this compas^, 

And closed in all the grene hcrbere, 

With sicamour was set and cglatcre *. 

' brcadtli. ^ arbour. ' went round about. * eglantine. 



POEMS ATTRIBUTED TO CHAUCER. 87 



And as I stood and cast aside mine eie, 

I was ware of the fairest medler-tree, 

That ever yet in all my Hfe I sie\ 

As full of blossomes as it mighte be ; 

Therein a goldfinch leaping pretile 

Fro bough to bough ; and, as him list, gan ete 

Of buddes here and there and floures swete. 

And to the herber side ther was joyninge 
This faire tree, of which I have you told ; 
And at the last the brid began to singe, 
When he had eten what he ete wolde, 
So passing sweetly, that by manifolde 
It was more pleasaunt than I coude devise. 
And when his song was ended in this wise, 

The nightingale with so mery a note 

Answered him, that all the woode rong 

So sodainly, that, as it were a sote^, 

I stood astonied ; so was I with the song 

Thorow ravished, that till late and longe, 

Ne wist I in what place I was, ne where ; 

And ay, me thoughte, she song even by mine ere. 

Wherefore about I waited busily, 
On every side, if that I her mighte see ; 
And, at the last, I gan full well aspie 
Where she sat in a fresh grene laurer tree, 
On the further side, even right by me. 
That gave so passing a delicious smell. 
According to the eglantere full well. 
****** 

And as I sat, the briddes barkening thus, 
Me thoughte that I herde voices sodainly. 
The most sweetest and most delicious 
That ever any wight, I trow truly. 
Herd in here life ; for sothe the armony 
And sweet accord was in so good musike, 
That the voice[s] to angels most were^ like. 

' saw. ^ sot, fool. ^ Old ed. was. 



88 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And at the last, out of a grove faste by, 

That was right goodly and pleasant to sight, 

I sie where there cam, singing lustily, 

A world of ladies ; but, to tell aright 

Ker grete beautie, it lieth not in my might, 

Ne her array ; neverthelesse I shall 

Telle you a part, though I speake not of all. 



The Court of Love. 

The Cottrt of Love (date about 1 500) is a poem of the Chau- 
cerian school, containing many echoes of Chaucer, and making 
distinct reference to The Compleynte of Pite and The Legende of 
Goode Women. ' Philogenet, of Cambridge Clerk,' who, in the 
days of unreflecting Chaucerian criticism, was always supposed to 
represent the young Chaucer himself, repairs to the Court of 
Venus, where he finds Admetus and Alceste, the heroine of The 
Legende of Goode Women, with her 'ladies good nineteene' 
presiding over the Castle of Love. The Queen's handmaid 
Philobone takes him in charge and shows him the wonders of the 
place. He swears allegiance to the Twenty Statutes of Love, and 
is then introduced to the Lady Rosial, with whom he has already 
fallen in love in his dream, and whose presence inspires him with 
long protestations of devotion. Rosial is for the time obdurate, 
and sends him away again with Philobone to wait her pleasure. 
After a graphic description of the Courtiers of Love, an unequal 
but vigorous piece of writing, there appears to be a break in the 
poem, for we find ourselves suddenly in the middle of a tender 
speech of Rosial, who describes how Pite, risen from the shrine in 
which Philogenet had seen her buried within the temple of Venus, 
had softened her breast towards him. The poem ends with one of 
the favourite bird-scenes of the time, a curious paraphrase of the 
Matins for Trinity Sunday. This song in honour of Love, sung 
on May morning by a chorus of birds, should be compared with 
the last scenes of the Parlemcnt of P'oules. 

The first of the following extracts, a beautiful sketch of Privy 
Thought or Fancy, among the Courtiers of Love, is full of delicate 
imagination, and represents the author better than the tedious 
Statutes of Love, or the hymn to Venus, taken from Boethius, of 



POEMS ATTRIBUTED TO CHAUCER. 89 

which his master, Chaucer, had before him made more successful 
use. The second piece, which represents the close of the May 
festival, is so characteristic of the school of poetry and of the time, 
that it will bear quoting, in spite of its conventionality. 

And Prevye Thought, rejoycing of hym-self, 

Stode not fer thens in abite mervelous ; ' 

'Yon is,' thought I, 'som sprite or som elf, 

His sotill image is so curious : 

How is,' quod I, 'that he is shaded thus 

With yonder cloth, I note^ of what coloure?' 

And nere I went and gan to lere and pore, 

And framed him a question full hard. 

' What is,' quod I, ' the thyng thou lovest best ? 

Or what is bote "^ unto thy paynes hard ? 

Me think thou livest here in grete unrest, 

Thow wandrest ay from south to est and west, 

And est to north ; as fer as I can see. 

There is no place in courte may holden the. 

' Whom folowest thow ? where is thy harte iset ? 

But my demaunde asoile ^ I thee require.' 

' Me thoughte,' quod he, ' no creature may lette 

Me to ben here and where as I desire : 

For where as absence hath don out the fire, 

My mery thought it kyndelith yet agayn. 

That bodily me thinke with my souverayne 

' I stand and speke, and laugh, and kisse, and halse ■•, 

So that my thought comforteth me ful ofte : 

I think, God wot, though all the world be false, 

I wil be trewe ; I think also how softe 

My lady is in speche, and this on-lofte 

Bryngeth myn harte in joye and grete gladnesse ; 

This prevey thought alayeth myne hevynesse. 

'And what I thinke or where to be, no man 

In all this erth can tell, iwis, but I : 

And eke there nys no swalowe swifte, ne swan 

' know not. * remedy. ' absolve, solve. * embrace. 



9C THE ENGLISH POETS. 

So wight ^ of wyng, ne half so yerne ^ can flye ; 
For I can ben, and that right sodenly, 
In.Heven, in Helle, in Paradise, and here, 
And with my lady, whan I wil desire. 

' I am of councell ferre and wide, I wot, 

With lord and lady, and here privitd 

I wot it all ; and be it cold or hoot, 

Thay shalle not speke withoute licence of me. 

I mynde, in suche as sesonable ^ bee, 

Tho * first the thing is thought withyn the harte, 

Er any worde out from the mouth astarte.' 



And furth the cokkowe gan procede anon, 

With *" Benedictus'' thankyng God in haste. 

That in this May wold visite hem echon, 

And gladden hem all while the feste shall laste : 

And therewithal a loughter out he braste, 

' I thanke it God that I shuld e^ide the song, 

And all the service which hath ben so long.' 

Thus sange thay all the service of the feste, 

And that was done right erly, to my dome^ ; 

And furth goth all the courte, bothe moste and leste, 

To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome ; 

And namly hawthorn brought both page and grome, 

With fressh garlantis, partie blewe and white, 

And hem rejoysen in her grete delite. 

Eke eche at other threw the floures brighte, 

The prymerose, the violet, and the golde*^ ; 

So than, as I beheld the riall sighte, 

My lady gan me sodenly bcholde. 

And with a trewe love, plitcd many-folde. 

She smote me thrugh the very harte as blive ', 

And Venus yet I thanke I am alive. 

' swift. ^ eagerly, briskly. ' ripe for, inclMicd to love. 

Then = when. '" in my judgment. ' marigold. ' swiftly. 



WILLIAM LANG LEY, 

OR 

LANGLAND. 

Contemporaneously with Chaucer there lived and worked one 
of the most remarkable of our poets, of whom we know little or 
nothing except from his works. And even these have been so 
httle studied by the generality of readers, that the singular mis- 
take has arisen of confusing the name of the work with the name 
of the author. It is common to see references made to ' Piers 
Plowman ' as if he were a writer living in the fourteenth century, 
which is no less confusing than if we should speak of Hamlet as 
flourishing in the reign of Elizabeth. 

Our author's name is not certainly known. That his Christian 
name was William there can be no doubt, though by some mistake 
he has sometimes been called Robert. In a note written on the 
fly-leaf of one of the Dublin MSS., in a hand of the fifteenth 
century, we are told that a certain Stacy de Rokayle, living at 
Shipton-under-Wychwood (about four miles from Burford in Ox- 
fordshire), and holding land of Lord le Spenser, was the father 
of William de Langlond who wrote the book called Piers Plowman. 
The only difficulty about this testimony is the name Langland, 
which should rather, perhaps, be read as Langley ; since the 
Langland family was at that date connected with Somersetshire, 
whilst there is actually a hamlet named Langley at no great 
distance from Shipton. 

By a careful study of the internal evidence afforded us by the 
poet's works, we can make out quite sufficient to give us a clear 
idea of the man. We gather, chiefly from his own words, that he 
was born about A.D. 1332, probably at Cleobury Mortimer in Shrop- 
shire. His father and his friends put him to school (possibly in 
the monastery at Great Malvern), made a clerk or scholar of him, 
and taught him what holy writ meant. In 1362, at the age of 
about thirty, he first began work upon the poem, which was to 
occupy him during a great part of his after life. The real subject 
of the poem is the religious and social condition of the poorer 



92 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

classes of England during the reigns of Edward III. and Richard 
II. His testimony is invested with a peculiar interest by the fact 
that he clearly knew what he was talking about. His own expe- 
rience, and his own keen powers of observation provided him with 
an abundant supply of material. He saw the necessity of some 
reform, and endeavoured to realise in his own mind the person of 
the coming reformer. To this ideal person he gave the name 
of Piers the Plowman, to signify that great results can often be 
achieved by comparatively humble means ; and perhaps as hinting, 
at the same time, that if the labouring classes were to expect any 
great improvement to take place in their condition, they had best 
consider what they could do to help themselves. As years wore 
on, William's supposed reformer seems to have become less actual 
to him, and assumed, as it were, a more spiritual form to his mind. 
At last he fully grasps the idea that it is better to turn from any 
expectation of a reformer to come to the contemplation of the 
Saviour who has come already. At this point, his mind seizes a 
bolder conception ; he no longer describes Piers Plowman as he 
had done at first, as if he were no more than what was formerly 
called a head harvestman, giving directions to the reapers and 
sowing the corn himself that he might be sure it was sown properly ; 
but he identifies him rather with the Good Samaritan, or personified 
Love, who is to be of more help to mankind than Faith as typified 
by Abraham, or than Hope as typified by Moses. The true Good 
Samaritan is He who told the parable of Himself; the Reformer is 
no other than Christ. When Christ became incarnate. He was like 
a warrior doing battle in another's cause, and wearing his arms and 
cognisance. He put on the armour of Piers the Plowman when He 
took upon Himself human nature ; and His victory over death was 
the earnest of the deliverance of mankind from all miseries, and 
the beginning of the improvement of the condition of the lower 
orders. Such ideas as these form, in fact, a part of the author's own 
life ; they are essentially an important chapter in his autobiography. 

In the first instance, he began his poem under the form of a 
Vision, which took at last the name of the Vision of Piers the 
Plowman ; though it is rather a succession of visions, in some of 
which Piers is never seen at all. The poet describes himself as 
wandering on the Malvern Hills, where he falls asleep beside a 
murmuring brook, and dreams of a Field full of Folk, i.e. the 
world, of the Lady Holychurch who acts as his instructress, of the 
Lady Meed who corrupts justice and is ready to bribe even the 



LANGLEY OR LANGLAND. 93 

king himself, of the Seven Deadly Sins, and of Piers the Plowman. 
Such was the first draught of his poem, to which a sort of appendix 
was shortly added, with the title of Do -Well, Do-bet [i.e. Do- 
better], and Do-best. 

It would appear that he had already some acquaintance with 
London life ; and, soon after the writing of the first draught of the 
poem, he seems to have resided there permanently, taking up his 
abode in Cornhill, where he lived with his wife Kitte and his 
daughter Calote, for many long years. About a.d. 1377 he under- 
took the task of revising his poem ; it ended in his completely 
rewriting it, at the same time expanding it to so great an extent 
that it grew to three times its former length. Incidentally, he 
describes himself as a tall man, going by the nickname of Long 
Will ; one loath to reverence lords or ladies, or persons dressed in 
fur and wearing silver ornaments, and not deigning to say ' God 
save you' to the Serjeants whom he met. It requires no great 
stretch of the imagination to picture to ourselves the tall gaunt 
figure of Long Will, in long robes and with shaven crown, striding 
along Cornhill, saluting no man by the way, and minutely obser- 
vant of the gay dresses to which he paid no outward reverence. 
It further appears that he was thoroughly versed in legal forms, 
and conversant with the writing out of legal documents ; such 
knowledge enabled him to earn small sums as a notary, and he 
was frequent in his attendance at Westminster Hall. 

Towards the year 1393, or even a little earlier, we find him again 
becoming dissatisfied with the wording of his poem. Again he 
resolved to revise it thoroughly, but this time he is more careful 
about the form than the matter. Minute corrections and altera- 
tions were made in almost every line ; a few passages were cur- 
tailed, and others somewhat lengthened. Perceiving that one long 
passage of his poem as it stood in the second draught was, as to 
its general contents, a repetition of a former passage, he so trans- 
posed his material as to bring the two passages together, inter- 
weaving them with such ingenuity that the numerous insertions 
seem to fall into their places naturally enough. The resulting 
third draught of the poem is not much longer than the second. 
In some points he made improvements, but the general effect of 
the whole is less striking and original ; this being the inevitable 
result of his obvious desire to tone down some of the more out- 
spoken passages, and to express a certain leaning towards conser- 
vatism such as frequently comes with advancing years. We are 



94 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

bound, perhaps, to consider this latest version of the poem as 
being, upon the whole, the best ; but we cannot but remark that, 
whilst it is more mature, it is less vigorous. 

Thus, during a period of more than thirty years, the poem called 
the Vision of Piers the Plowman, with its appendix of Do -Well, 
Do-bet, and Do-best, descriptive of three stages in the Christian's 
life and experience, grew slowly into its final shape under the 
author's hands. It is a poem of almost unique character, and can 
hardly be judged by any of the usual standards. In one respect, 
it reminds us of Butler's Hudibras ; it was obviously written rather 
to give the author an opportunity of saying many things by the 
way than on such a definite plan as requires a close attention on 
the part of a reader. The general plan has but slight coherence, 
and merely aims at considering what improvement can be made 
in men's characters, and what hope there is for the world from the 
teachings of Christianity. He who does a kindly action, does ivell\ 
but he who teaches men to do good, does better ; whilst he who 
combines both, who does good himself and teaches others to do the 
same, does best. From frequently dwelling on this theme, the poet 
at last considers the life of Christ ; and, following the narrative of 
the gospels, describes His entry into Jerusalem, His betrayal and 
crucifixion. At this point, he supplements the gospel narrative 
from the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, describing the descent 
of Christ into hell. His victory over Satan and Lucifer, and His 
release of the souls of the patriarchs from their long prison. Then 
follows the glorious Resurrection of the Saviour, the descent of the 
Holy Ghost, and the bestowal upon men of the gifts of the Spirit. 
But the progress of Christianity is checked to some extent by the 
descent of Antichrist and the attack of the Seven Deadly Sins 
upon the church ; and the poem concludes by reminding us that 
the church is still militant, that corruptions have crept in where 
only truth should be preached, and that the end is not yet. 

In 1399, during the brief space when the deposition of Richard 
II, was already imminent but had not yet been decided upon, our 
author wrote a poem, addressed to the king, upon the subject of the 
misgovernmcnt under which England suffered. This poem, in the 
only extant manuscript, breaks off abruptly in the middle of a 
sentence ; and, though it is of considerable interest, its immediate 
application was speedily set aside by the rapid progress of events. 

The manuscripts of Piers the Plowman, in all tlirce versions, are 
very numerous, and it was once an extremely favourite poem. In 



LANGLEY OR LANGLAND. 95 

the reign of Edward VI. it was for the first time printed, and went 
through three editions in one year. It was familiar to several of 
our great writers, including Lydgate, Skelton, Gascoigne, Drayton, 
and Spenser. The author's vocabulary is extremely copious, which 
occasions one difficulty in understanding his language. Some 
have imagined that his language contains only words of English 
origin, but this notion must have originated in extreme ignorance. 
He uses, in fact, the common midland dialect of the time, into 
which French words were introduced with great freedom ; and the 
percentage of French words employed by him is slightly greater 
than that which is to be found in Chaucer. The metre is the 
usual unrhymed alliterative metre of the older English period ; 
almost the 07ily metre which can rightly be called English, since 
nearly all others have been borrowed from French or Italian. We 
commonly find about three syllables in each line, which begin with 
the same letter ; and such syllables are, as a rule, accented ones. 
The general swing of the lines has been described as anapcEstic ; 
it is rather dactylic, with one or more unaccented syllables prefixed. 
The characters which William describes as appearing to him in 
consecutive visions have all allegorical names, and some are 
visionary enough ; but others may have been sketched from the 
life, and are as distinct as a drawing by Hogarth. The chief 
power of his writing resides in its homely earnestness, and in his 
hearty hatred of untruth in every form. In treating of theological 
questions, he is often obscure, minute, and tedious ; but in treating 
of life and manners he is keen, direct, satirical, and vivid. Some 
portions of the poem could well be spared ; others are of much 
value. It is not suited to all readers ; but most of those who 
explore it must be glad that they have done so. Apart from its 
literary merit, it is one of the most valuable linguistic monuments 
in the whole range of our literature. 

Instead of giving, as is usual, short scraps of the poem which 
are almost unintelligible for lack of context, we present here, in a 
much abridged form, the 21st Passus or canto of the poem, the sub- 
ject of which will be readily perceived. It deals with Christ's entry 
into Jerusalem, the crucifixion, descent into hell, and resurrection. 

In the following extract, the spelling has been modernised, 
because the language is a little difficult, as is usual in alliterative 
poems. It is given as a specimen of style, but has no linguistic 
value in its modern dress. 

W. W. SKEAT. 



gS THE ENGLISH POETS. 

From 'The Vision of Piers the Plowman.' 

Passus XXI. {Latest Version.) 

Wo-weary and wetshod * went I forth after, 

As a reckless renk^ " that recketh not of sorrow, 

And yede^ forth like a loreP * all my life-time, 

Till I wex * weary of this world • and wilned ^ eft ^ to sleep. 

And leaned me till Lent • and long time I slept. 

Of girls "^ and of gloria laus ' greatly I dreamed, 

And how hosanna by organ ' old folk sung. 

One, was semblable* to the Samaritan ' and some-deal to Piers 

Plowman, 
Barefoot on an ass-back * bootless came pricking, 
Without spurs or spear " and sprackly^ he looked. 
As is the kind of a knight * that cometh to be dubbed, 
To get his gold spurs • and galoches^" y-couped". 
Then was Faith in a fenestre '^ • and cried, '■Ah! fili David P 
As doth an herald of arms * when auntres '^ come to jousts. 
Old Jews of Jerusalem • for joy they sung, 

Benedictiis qui vetiit in noj?iine domini. 
Then I frayned^* at Faith • what all that fare meant. 
And who should joust in Jerusalem • * Jesus,' he said, 
'And fetch that^^ the fiend claimeth • Piers fruit the Plowman ^^' 
'Is Piers in this place?' quoth I • and he preynte" upon me, 
^ Libenun Dei arbitritim^ quoth he ' 'for love hath undertaken 
That this Jesus, of his gentrise ^* • shall joust in Piers' arms, 
In his helm and in his habergeon * humatiii naturd. 
That Christ be not known • for consummatiis Deus, 
In Piers' plates the Plowman^* • this pricker 2° shall ride; 
For no dint" shall him dere^^ * as in Deitate patris.' 



• man. » went. ' caitiff. * became. ' wished. 

" again. ' children. * like. • sprightly. '" shoes. 

" curiously cut. " ^vindow. *' adventurers. " asked. 

»' that which, 'o the fruit [souls of men] belonging to Piers Plowman 

[Christ]. " glanced, looked. " condescension. '* in the 

plate-armour of Piers Plowman. "rider. "blow. "harm. 



LANG LEY OR LANGLAND. 97 

* Who shall joust with Jesus ? ' quoth I * * Jews, or the scribes ? ' 

' Nay,' quoth Faith, ' but the fiend • and false-doom-to-die. 

Death saith he will for-do^ • and adown bring 

All that liveth or looketh ' on land and in water. 

Life saith that he lieth * and hath laid his life to wed'', 

That, for all that Death can do • within three days, 

To walk, and fetch from the fiend • Piers fruit the Plowman, 

And lay it where him liketh ■ and Lucifer bind, 

And for-beat ^ and bring adown ' bale and death for ever ! 

O tnors, ero i/iors tua! 
Then came Pilate with much people • sedens pro iribunali, 
To see how doughtily Death should do ' and deem* their beyer 

right ^ 
The Jews and the justices * against Jesus they were. 
And all the court cried • crucifige! loud. 
Then put him forth a pilour® " before Pilate, and said, 
'This Jesus of our Jews' temple ' japed ^ and despised, 
To for-do it on a day * and in three days after 
Edify it eft new • here He stands that said it. 
And yet make it as much^ • in all manner [of] points 
Both as long and as large ' aloft and aground. 
And as wide as it ever was * this we witness all ! ' 
''Crucifige!'' quoth a catch-poll • he can of^ witchcraft. 
' Tolle! tolle! ' quoth another • and took of keen thorns. 
And began of a green thorn * a garland to make, 
And set it sore on His head • and sith '" said in envy, 
'■Ave! Rabbi!'' quoth that ribald " and reeds shot at His eyes: 
And nailed Him with three nails • naked on the rood. 
And, with a pole, poison ' [they] put to his lips. 
And bade Him drink, His death to let" • and His days lengthen ; 
And said, ' if He soothfast be " He will Himself help ; 
And now, if Thou be Christ * God's son of heaven, 
Come adown off this rood * and then will we 'lieve 
That life Thee loveth ' and will not let Thee die.' 



' destroy. ' as a pledge. ^ beat to death. * adjudge. 

* the right [claim] of them both. * a robber put himself forward. 

' jested. ' great. ° knows much of. " then. 
" prevent. 



VOL. I. 

L 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



' Consummattim est! ' quoth Christ " and comsed ^ for to swoon 

Piteously and pale " as prisoner that dieth. 

The Lord of Hfe and of Hght ' then laid His eyes together, 

The day for dread thereof withdrew " and dark became the sun, 

The wall of the temple to-clave '^ " even in two pieces ; 

The hard rock all to-rove^ • and right dark night it seemed. 

The earth quook and quashed " as [if] it quick* were, 

And dead men for that din • came out of deep graves, 

And told why that tempest • so long time dured ; 

' For a bitter battle ' " the dead body said ; 

'Life and Death in this darkness * the one for-doth^ the other, 

But shall no wight wit witterly^ " who shall have the mastery 

Ere Sunday, about sun-rising' • and sank with that to earth. 

•)^ if- % -^ % -Sfi -^ 

Lo ! how the sun gan lock • her^ light in her-self, 

When she saw Him suffer death ■ who sun and sea made ! 

Lo ! the earth, for heaviness • that He would death suffer, 

Quaked * as [a] quick thing ' and al to-quashed the rocks ! 

Lo ! hell might not hold • but opened, when God tholed *, 

And let out Simon's " sons • to see Him hang on rood. 

Now shall Lucifer 'lieve it " though him loath think ; 

For Jesus, as a giant " with a gin-'' cometh yond. 

To break and to beat adown " all that be against Him, 

And to have out all • of them that Him liketh. 

' Suffer we,' said Truth • ' I hear and see both 

A Spirit speak to hell ' and bids unspar the gates ; 

Attollite portas, principes, vestrasj &c.' 
A voice loud in that light " to Lucifer cried, 
' Princes of this palace • prest '^ undo the gates, 
For here cometh with crown * the king of all glory.' 
Then sighed Satan • and said to hell, 
' Such a light, against our leave " Lazarus it fetched ; 
Cold care and cumbrance * is come to us all. 

' began. * was cloven in twain. ^ wa<; reft in two. 

* alive. ° destroys. '' know certainly. ' sun is feminine. 

'so here; above we have (\\ioak. " suffered. 

'" In the apocryjihnl (Jospel of Nicodcmus, two sons of .Simeon rise from 
the dead, and reveal wlial they have witnessed in hell during Christ's descent 
into it. " device, i)lan. " quickly. 



LANGLEY OR LANGLAXD. 99 

If this king come in • mankind will be fetch, 

And lead it where Lazar is ■ and lightly me bind. 

Patriarchs and prophets • have parled^ hereof long, 

That such a lord and a light " shall lead them all hence. 

But rise up, Ragamuffin ! " and reach me the bars 

That Belial thy bel-sire ^ " beat ^, with thy dam *, 

And I shall let® this lord ' and His light stop. 

Ere we through brightness be blent ^ " bar we the gates ! 

Check we, and chain we * and each chine' stop, 

That no light leap in • at louvre nor at loop. 

And thou, Ashtaroth, hoot out ' and have out our knaves, 

Coking, and all his kin * our cattle * to save. 

Brimstone boiling * burning out-cast it 

All hot on their heads • that enter nigh the walls. 

Set bows of brake ^ * and brazen guns. 

And shoot out shot enough * His sheltrums" to blend". 

Set Mahound at the mangoneP^ * and mill-stones throw, 

With crooks and with calthrops * a-cloy ^^ we them each one ! ' 

'Listen!' quoth Lucifer • 'for I this lord know. 

Both this lord and this light • is long ago I knew him. 

May no death this Lord dere^* ' nor devil's queintise^": 

And, where He will, is His way • but warn Him of the perils. 

If He reave me of my right * He robbeth me by mastery '^ 

For, by right and by reason • the renks ^' that be here 

Body and soul be mine • both good and ill. 

For He Himself it said • that Sire is of hell, 

That Adam and Eve • and all their issue 

Should die with dooP' ' and here dwell ever, 

If that they touched a tree " or took thereof an apple. 

Thus this lord of light ' such a law made ; 

And, since He is so leal a Lord • I 'lieve that He will not 

Reave us of our right • since reason them damned. 

And, since we have been seised • seven thousand winters, 

And [He] never was there-against • and now will begin, 

' spoken. * good father. ^ forged. * mother. ' stop. 

' blinded. '' chink. ' chattels. ' cross-bows, with powerful 

levers for setting them. '' squadrons. " blind. ** catapult. 

^^ frustrate. '* harm. *' device. '* mere force. '" men. 

" sorrow. 

H 2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



He were unwrast of^ His word * that witness is of truth!' 

'That is sooth,' said Satan * 'but I me sore doubt, 

For^ thou got them with guile * and His garden broke, 

Against His love and His leave " on His land yedest\ 

Not in form of a fiend • but in form of an adder ; 

And enticedest Eve * to eat by herself. 

And behightest* her and him • after to know, 

As two gods, with God * both good and ill ; 

Thus with treason and with treachery • thou troiledest® them 

both, 
And diddest " them break their buxomness "^ ' through false 

byhest ' ; 
Thus haddest thou them out ■ and hither at the last. 
It is not graithly' gotten ' where guile is at the root. 
Forthy^" I dread me,' quoth the devil ' 'lest Truth will them 

fetch ; 
And, as thou beguiledest God's image * in going of an adder. 
So hath God beguiled us all * in going of a wy".' 

******* 

' What lord art Thou } ' quoth Lucifer • a voice aloud said, 
' The lord of might and of main * that made all things. 
Duke of this dim place • anon undo the gates. 
That Christ may come in • the king's son of heaven.' 
And with that breath hell brake • with all Belial's bars ; 
For any wy or ward'^ " wide opened the gates. 
Patriarchs and prophets ' populus in te7iebris 
Sang with saint John ■ ecce agnus Dei! 
Lucifer might not look • so light him ablent " ; 
And those that our Lord loved * with that light forth flew. 
******* 

Ashtoreth and all others • hid them in hemes '*, 
They durst not look on our Lord • the least of them all, 
But let Him lead forth which Him list • and leave which Hhn 
liked. 



' turned away from. * because. ' went. * didst 

l^romise. " didst deceive. • didst cause. ^ obedience. 

" pror 
man. 



Tiise. " didst deceive. • didst cause. ^ obedience. 

Dmise. "regularly. '"therefore, " in taking the form of a 

I. " despile any wi{;lit or guard. ^ blindud. " corners. 



LANGLEY OR LANGLAND. 



Many hundreds of angels * harped then and sang, 

Culpat caro, purgat caro, Regnat Deus Dei caro. 

Then piped Peace * of poetry a note, 

Clarior est solito -post maxima nebula Phebus, 
Post inimicitias clarior est et amor. 

' After sharpest showers,' quoth Peace ' ' most sheen is the sun, 

Is no weather warmer • than after watery clouds, 

Nor love liefer ■ nor liefer friends, 

Than after war and wrack • when Love and Peace be masters. 

Was never war in this world • nor wickeder envy, 

But Love, if him list ' to laughing it brought, 

And Peace, through patience * all perils stopped.' 

Truth trumped them, and sang • Te Detim laudamus ; 
And then luted Love " in a loud note, 

Ecce quajii bonuin et qiiam ioamdum est habitare fratres 
in union! 
Till the day dawned * these damsels danced, 
That men rung to the resurrection • and with that I awaked, 
And called Kitte my wife * and Calote my daughter, 
' Arise ! and go reverence ' God's resurrection, 
And creep on knees to the cross • and kiss it for a jewel. 
And rightfullest relic ' none richer on earth ! 
For God's blessed body • it bare, for our boot\ 
And it a-feareth ^ the fiend ; • for such is the might, 
May no grisly ghost ' glide where it shadoweth !' 

* help, remedy. ' frightens away. 



JOHN GOWER. 



[John Gower seems to have been bom about 1330, and died in 140S, 
having been blind for eight or nine years before his death. He was a 
gentleman of ancient family, owning estates in Kent and Suffolk. The 
place of his birth is unknown ; he is believed to have died in the priory 
of St. Mary Overies, Southwark, in the church of which, now called St. 
Saviour's, his tomb may still be seen. The earliest of his three principal 
works, Speculum Meditantis, was in French verse, but it has not come down 
to posterity, nor is the precise time of its composition known. The second, 
Vox Clamantis, in Latin elegiac verse, was written between 1382 and 1384, 
and commemorates the rising of the commons under Wat Tyler in the 
former year, moralizing upon it and improving the occasion with astonish- 
ing prolixity. The third, Confesbio Amaniis, one of the best known of early 
English poems, was written between 1385 and 1393.] 

The poetry of Gower has been variously estimated. It was 
a practice with the poets of the sixteenth century to link his 
name in a venerated trio with those of Chaucer and Lydgate, just 
as in the seventeenth century the names of Shakspere, Jonson, 
and Fletcher were often joined together as the great dramatic 
lights of the preceding age. In each case the effect of closer 
study has been to lead men to think that they liave been joining 
gold with iron and clay. Shakspere, read attentively, rises high 
above the standard reached by Jonson and Fletcher ; and in a 
yet greater degree has the genius of Chaucer, accurately studied 
and rightly felt, impressed the present age with the sense of his 
unrivalled eminence among his contemporaries. 

Gower, a man of birth and fortune, must have lived in the 
cultivated society of his day. Of that society, French poetry, 
in its various forms of Fabliau, Rondel, Romance, Epigram, 
Chanson, &c., was one of the chief delights and distractions. 
With much imitative power, with the faculty of sustained attention, 
with a high appreciation for his own thoughts, and remarkable 



GOWLR. 103 

linguistic facility, Gower, when he betook himself to poetrj', was 
sure to become a copious and prolific writer. But, possessing no 
originality, he was equally sure to remain pent within the im- 
prisoning bounds of fashion and conventionality, to follow, not 
take the lead, to interpret, not modify opinion. He seems to have 
been without the sense of hmnour ; we doubt if a single jest of his 
own making can be found throughout his writings. From this 
cause, although he may justly be called a moralist and a didactic 
writer, (Chaucer and Lydgate both speak of him as the 'moral' 
Gower), the higher intellectual rank of a satirist must be denied 
him. The moralist declaims, the satirist paints ; we are convinced 
of the deformity of vice in the one case, but we see it in the other. 
The faculties of the first dispose him to subjective estimates of 
men and things, those of the second to objective estimates. The 
one describes the offenders, the other makes them exhibit them- 
selves. The moralist inveighs against the selfish cowardice of 
a degraded proletariat ; the satirist puts a few simple words in 
their mouths, and we know them and their kind for evermore. 

' Curramus praecipites, et 
Bum jacet in ripa, calcemus Caesaris kosiem.^ 

Several MSS. of the Confessio Amantis, Gower's principal poem, 
contain a passage in Latin prose in which he describes the three 
books which he had written, all with a didactic motive, * doctrinae 
causa.' The first of these, Speculum Meditantis^ was in French 
verse. It was probably written between 1360 and 1370, at a 
period when the ladies at Edward II Ts court and their admirers 
would hardly have condescended to read a poem couched in their 
native EngHsh, a tongue not then beheved to be suited to themes 
of love, mysticism, and chivalry. It was a strictly moral poem, 
treating of virtues and vices, and the methods of penitence and 
amendment ; but it has absolutely vanished ; and since from the 
account we have of the contents it is impossible not to believe 
that it was exceedingly dull, we may be reconciled to the loss. 
Gower's next considerable effort, the Vox Claviantis, a Latin 
elegiac poem in seven books, was suggested by the rising of the 
commons under Wat Tyler and others in 1381. \Vhy he chose to 
write it in Latin it is impossible to say, unless we suppose that he 
wished to hide from the objects of them, under the veil of a 
learned language, the sharp censures on the classes of knights, 
burghers, and cultivators, which the poem contains. In a passage 



I04 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

which is grotesque if not dramatic, the poet thus describes the 
ringleaders of the insurrection : — 

' Watte vocat, cui Thomme venit, neque Symme retardat, 
Recteque Gibbe simul Hicke venire jubent : 
Colle furit, quern Geffe juvat, nocumenta parantes, 

Cum quibus ad damnum Wille coire vovet. 
Grigge rapit, dum Dawe strepit, comes est quibus Hobbe, 
Lorkin et in medio non minor esse putat.' 

The murder of Archbishop Sudbury by the rebels is described, 
but with little of that local or circumstantial colouring which we 
should desire. All that they succeeded in doing, says Gower, was 
to send him to heaven, 

' Vivere fecerunt, quern mortificare putarunt ; 
Quem tollunt mundo, non potuere Deo.' 

For several years before the rising of the commons the fame 
of Chaucer's English poetry must have been growing. Mere 
fasbion could not hold out against the commanding power of 
that poetry ; and Gower, when next he attempted a considerable 
work, found that he might as well write it in English. The 
Confessio Amantis was begun, he tells us, at the command of 
Richard II, who meeting him one day on the Thames, while the 
tide was flowing, called him into his barge, and bade him in the 
course of their talk to 'boke some newe thing.' Thus incited, 
Gower planned a work 

' Whiche may be wisdom to the wise. 
And play to hem that list to play.' 

The long prologue is taken up with an account of the then state 
of the world, in which he repeats much of the censure on the 
various orders of men that he had introduced into the Vox 
ClaTuantis. He deplores the decline of virtue and good customs, 
and the general tendency of things to grow worse. Love itself is 
diseased, and no longer the pure passion that it once was. Start- 
ing from this point, he devotes the greater part of the voluminous 
poem which follows to an examination of the various ways in 
which men offend against the god of love. The seventh or 
penultimate book only is an exception to this remark, being a 
sketch of the philosophy of Aristotle. The lover is represented as 
a penitent, who, being half dead from a wound inflicted by Cupid, 
and resorting to Venus his mother, is recommended by the goddess 
to apply to Genius her priest, and confess to him all the sins that 



GOU'ER. 105 

he has committed in the article of love. With the seven deadly sins, 
pride, anger, envy, &c., for his groundplan, the penitent confesses 
under the head of each his misdeeds as a lover, and the confessor 
consoles and directs him by relating the experiences of former 
lovers in pari materia. This strange medley of things human and 
divine, of which notable examples exist in the works of Chaucer 
and Boccaccio, does not mean the consecration of the world of 
passion by introducing religion into it, but the profanation of reli- 
gion by degrading its rites and emblems to the service of earthly 
desire. But in this commingling of the morality of Christianity 
and the morality of Ovid, the two elements agree no better 
than fire and water ; and the sense of this, forcing itself upon 
the consciences of the nobler spirits that thus offended, led to 
those 'Retractations' and palinodes which modern critics have 
regarded with so much wonder and disdain. Thus it was with 
Chaucer ; thus with Boccaccio : to Gower perhaps, who wi-ote under 
the spell of fashion and in the groove of imitation, the precise 
character of the absurd confusion of ideas which reigns in his 
book was never sufficiently apparent to induce him to regret it. 

The quarrels of poets are not relevant to the purpose of this 
book ; otherwise we might be tempted to enter on the much- 
debated question of the relations between Chaucer and Gower, 
and the meaning of certain inserted or suppressed passages in 
their writings. We will only observe that since the discovery (in 
Trivet's Chronicle) of the common source of the story of Constance, 
told by Chaucer in the Man of Lawe's tale and by Gower in the 
second book of the Cottfessio Amantis, the chief reason for doubt- 
ing the existence of a bitter feeling between the two poets has 
been removed. If Chaucer had, as Tyrwhitt and Warton thought, 
borrowed from Gower the story of Constance, it was hard to 
believe that he would speak roughly of him in the prologue to the 
very tale which attested the literary obligation. But no such 
obligation existed, and therefore the words may be taken in their 
natural bearing ^ 

That Gower was timid and a timeserver is a conclusion which 
it is difficult to resist, when we consider the changes made in the 
Prologue to the Con/essio Amantis. In its original shape, as we 

' Speaking of the stories of Canace and of Appollinus of Tyre, told by 
Gower in his third and eighth books, Chaucer says — 

k* Of suche corsed stories I seye fy,' 



lo6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

have seen, it states that the poem was undertaken and made 'for 
kynge Richardes sake,' and prays 'that his corone longe stonde.' 
But in several MSS. all this is, not very skilfully, omitted or 
changed. In these the poem is dedicated to ' Henry of Lancaster,' 
and is said to have been composed in the sixteenth year of King 
Richard, i.e. in 1393. Henry, afterwards Henry IV, could not 
have been called Henry of Lancaster till after his father's death in 
February 1399. Soon after that date Richard II went over to 
Ireland ; his unpopularity in England was great ; the plot for 
supplanting him by Henry was set on foot, and with every month 
that passed the movement grew in strength. It was probably in 
the course of the summer of 1399 that Gower, perceiving how 
things were going, transformed his prologue so as to make it 
acceptable to the pretender whose success he anticipated. In the 
copies with the altered prologue he also omitted the lines of 
eulogy on Chaucer at the end, which the poem had originally 
contained. What could have prompted the omission but a feeling 
of estrangement .'' And for this estrangement the severity of the 
language just quoted from Chaucer supplies a probable motive. 

The last considerable work of our author was the Cronica 
Tripartita^ a Latin poem in three books, giving a regular history 
of political incidents in England from 1387 to 1399. As might be 
expected, the writer bears hardly throughout the poem on the 
unfortunate Richard. He seems to know nothing of the common 
story as to the manner of his death. The deposed king died, he 
says, in prison, from grief, and because he refused to take food. 

Of Gower's shorter French poems, his Cinkante Baladcs, which 
exist in MS. in the library of the Duke of Sutherland, Warton has 
printed four. They are in stanzas of seven and eight lines, with 
refrains, and are written not without elegance ; the opening of one 
of them is here printed. 

T. Arnold. 



GOIVER. 107 



Openixg of the thirtieth of Gower's 

'CiNKANTE BaLADES.' 

Si com la nief^, quant ie fort vent tempeste, 

Pur halte mier se torne ^i et la, 

Ma dame, ensi''* men coer^ manit en tempeste, 

Quant le danger de vo parole orra, 

La nief qe votre bouche soufflera. 

Me fait sigler sur le peril de vie, 

Guest en danger^ fait * qidl merci supplie. 

Opening of the Original Prologue to the 

'CONFESSIO AMANTIS.' 

Of hem, that writen us to-fore, 
The bokes dwelle, and we therfore 
Ben taught of that was writen tho. 
Forthy^ good is, that we also 
In oure time amonge us here 
Do write of-newe some matere 
Ensampled of the olde wise, 
So that it might in suche a wise. 
Whan we be dede and elleswhere, 
Beleve^ to the worldes ere 
In time comend^ after this. 
But for men sain, and soth it is. 
That who that al of wisdom writ, 
It dulleth ofte a mannes wit 
To hem that shall it al day rede. 
For thilke cause, if that ye rede, 
I wolde go the middel wey 
And write a boke betwene the twey, 
Somwhat of lust, somwhat of lore, 
That of the lasse or of the more 
Som man may like of that I write. 
And for that fcwii men endite 
• nef. ship. ^ ainsi. ' cceur. * faut. 

•• Therefore. ' remain. ' comimr. 



I08 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

In oure Englisshe, I thenke make 

A bok for king Richardes sake, 

To whom belongeth my legeaunce 

With all min hertes obeisaunce. 

In al that ever a lege man 

Unto his king may don or can. 

So ferforth I me recommaunde 

To him, which all me may commaunde, 

Preiend^ unto the highe regne, 

Which causeth every king to regne. 

That his corone longe stonde. 

I thenke, and have it understonde, 
As it befell upon a tide, 
As thing, which shulde tho betide, 
Under the town of newe Troy, 
Which tok of Brute his firste joy, 
In Themse, whan it was flowend ; 
As I by bote cam rowend, 
So as fortune her time sette. 
My lege lord perchaunce I mette. 
And so befell, as I came nigh, 
Out of my bote, whan he me sigh. 
He bad me come into his barge. 
And whan I was with him at large, 
Amonges other thinges said, 
He hath this charge upon me laid 
And bad me do my besinesse, 
That to his highe worthynesse 
Some newe thing I shulde boke, 
That he himself it mighte loke 
After the forme of my writing. 
And thus upon his commaunding 
Min herte is well the more glad 
To write so as he me bad ; 
And eke my fere is well the lasse, 
That non envic shall compasse ; 
Without a resonable wite^ 
To fcigne and blamii that I write. 
' praying. " cause of censure. 



GOIVER. 109 

Alexander and the Robber. 

[Confessio Amantis, lib. iii.] 
Of him, whom all this erthe draddc, 
Whan he the world so overladde 
Through werre, as it fortuned is, 
King Alisaundre, I rede this, 
How in a marche ', where he lay, 
It fell parchaunce upon a day 
A rover of the see was nome ^, 
Which many a man had overcome, 
And slain and take her good away. 
This pilour^, as the bokes say, 
A famous man in sondry stede 
Was of the werkes, whiche he dede. 
This prisoner to-fore the kinge 
Was brought, and ther upon this thinge 
In audience he was accused ; 
And he his dede had nought excused, 
And praid the king to done him right, 
And said : Sire, if I were of might, 
I have an herte liche unto thine. 
For if thy power were mine, 
My wille is most in speciall 
To rifle and geten over all 
The large worldes good about. 
But for I lede a pover route * 
And am, as who saith ^, at mischefe *, 
The name of pilour and of thefe 
I bere, and thou, which routes grete 
Might lede, and take thy beyete'^, 
And dost right as I wolde do. 
Thy name is nothing cleped so. 
But thou art named emperour. 
Our dedes ben of oon colour. 
And in effecte of oon deserte ; 
But thy richesse and my poverte 

• border-land, country. ' taken. ' pillager. • a poor company. 

* a:> the phrase is. * in ill-luck. ' advantage, acquisition. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



They be nought taken evenlichc, 

And netheles he that is riche 

This day, to-morwe he may be pover, 

And in contrarie also recover 

A pover man to grete richesse. 

Men sain forthy, let rightwisenesse 

Be peised^ even in the balaunce. 

The king his hardy contenaunce 
Beheld, and herde his wordes wise, 
And said unto him in this wise : 
Thin answere I have understonde, 
Whereof my will is, that thou stonde 
In my service and stille abide. 
And forth withal the same tide 
He hath him terme of life witholde^, 
The more and for he shuld ben holde^, 
He made him knight and yaf him lond, 
Whiche afterward was of his hond 
An orped* knight in many a stede, 
And gret prowesse of armes dede, 
As the croniques it recorden. 

The Story of Constance. 

\ConJessio A mantis, lib. ii.] 

But what the highe God woll spare 

It may for no perill misfare. 

This worthy maiden, which was there, 

Stode than, as who saith, dede for fere, 

To se the fest, how that it stood, 

Whiche all was torned into blood. 

The dissh forth with the cuppe and all 

Bcbled'* they weren over all. 

She sigh " hem die on every side, 

No wonder though she wepte and cridc, 

' poised, weighed. * retained for his life-time. ' .niid in order 

Ihal he mif^hl be bound to liim the more. * ' horped ' in ihe Harlcian 

MS. It means ' bold.' ' besmeared, ' saw. 



GOJVEI?. 

Makend many a wofull mone. 
Whan all was slain but she al-one, 
This olds fend, this Sarazin, 
Let take anone this Constantin, 
With all the good she thider brought, 
And hath ordeigned as she thought 
A naked ship withoute stere. 
In which the good and her infere^ 
Vitailled full for yeres five. 
Where that the wind it wolde drive, 
She put upon the wawes wilde. 

But he, which alle thing may shilde, 
Thre yeer til that she cam to londe. 
Her ship to stere hath take on honde^, 
And in Northumberlond arriveth. 
And happeth thanne that she driveth 
Under a castell with the flood, 
Whiche upon Humber banke stood : 
And was the kinges owne also, 
The whiche Allee was cleped the, 
A Saxon and a worthy knight, 
But he beleveth nought aright. 
Of this castell was castellaine 
Elda, the kinges chamberlaine, 
A knightly man after his iawe. 
And when he sigh upon the wawe. 
The ship drivend alone so. 
He badde anon men shulden go 
To se, what it betoken may. 
This was upon a somer day. 
The ship was loked, and she founded 
Elda within a litel stounde 
It wist, and with his wife anon 
Toward this yonge lady gon. 
Where that they founde gret riohessc. 
But she her wolde nought confesse, 
Whan they her axen what she was. 
And nethelcs, upon the cas, 
' towther. * taken in hand. ^ Constance was found. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Out of the ship with great worship 

They toke her into felaship, 

As they that weren of her glade 

But she no maner joie made, 

But sorweth sore of that she fonde 

No Cristendome in thilke londe. 

But elles she hath all her will, 

And thus with hem she dwelleth still. 

Dame Hermegild, which was the wife 
Of Elda, liche her owen life 
Constance loveth ; and fell so, 
Spekend all day betwene hem two, 
Through grace of Goddes purveiaunce, 
This maiden taughte the creaunce ^ 
Unto this wif so parfitly, 
Upon a day that, faste by, 
In presence of her husbonde, 
Wher they go walkend on the stronde, 
A blinde man, which cam ther ladde, 
Unto this wife criend he badde 
With bothe his hondes up, and praide 
To her, and in this wise he saide ; 
' O Hermegilde, which Cristes feith 
Enformed, as Constance saith. 
Received hast, yif me my sighte.' 

Upon this worde her herte aflighte^, 
Thenkend what beste was to done, 
But netheles she herde his bone^. 
And saide, — ' In trust of Cristiis lawe, 
Which don was on the crosse and slawe, 
Thou blinde man, beholde and se. 
With that to God upon his kne 
Thonkend, he tok his sight anon, 
Wherof they merveile everychon. 
But Elda wondreth most of alle ; 
This open thing whiche is bcfalle 

creed. " felt afflicted. ' petition. 



GOIVER. 

Concludeth him by such a way, 
That he the feith no nede obey. 

Now hst what fell upon this thinge. 
This Elda forth unto the kinge 
A morwe tok his way and rood, 
And Hermegild at home abood 
Forth with Constance well at ese. 
Elda, which thought his king to plese 
As he, that than unwedded was, 
Of Constance all the pleine cas 
As godelich as he couthe, tolde. 
The king was glad and said he wolde 
Comen thider in suche a wise, 
That he him might of her avise. 



VOL I. 



JOHN LYDGATE. 



[John Lydgate was bom at the village of Lydgate near Newmarket in 
Suffolk, about 1370. His death probably occurred about 1440. Appar- 
ently the latest date discoverable in any of his poems is 1433, in which 
year he wrote a sort of ' city poem,' celebrating the pageants, processions, 
and other rejoicings in the city of London on the occasion of the sojemn 
entry of Henry VI. He was a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Bury 
St. Edmunds. Among his numerous writings three stand out prominently : 
the Storie of Thebes, written when he was nearly fifty; the Troye Book, begun 
under Henry IV, and finished about 1420; and the Falls of Princes, written 
between 1422 and 1433.] 

Lydgate seems to have been stimulated to write partly by the 
example and renown of Chaucer, partly by a predilection for the 
French poets of that day — Christine de Pisan, Machault, Granson, 
&c. — and the desire to emulate them. He was a monk of that 
monastery of St. Edmund king and martyr, at Bury, into the 
interior life of which Jocelyn de Brakelonde, much helped by his 
modern editor^, has enabled us to look so clearly. But Abbot 
Hubert and Abbot Samson had laboured and gone to their account 
more than two centuries before, and though his rule remained the 
same, the conditions of life were much changed in the interval, 
even for a monk of Bury. In particular, the dazzling and distract- 
ing images <:>{ Literattire besieged his cell, and haunted his thoughts, 
with a persistency unknown at the earlier period. Then the ver- 
nacular literatures were in their infancy, and sober Latin was the 
ordinary dress of a cultivated man's thought ; now, in France and 
Italy, and in England, numerous works, bearing the imprint of 
the newest spirit of the day, decked also with sallies of wit and 
beautiful imagery which came directly from the heart and brain, 
through the familiar mother-tongue, were circulating amongst and 
influencing all who could think and feel. Lydgate, who by his 

' Mr. Carljlc, in I'ail 11 of his I'asi and Present. 



LYDGATE. 115 

own account had little vocation for the cloister, whose boyhood 
had been mischievous \ his youth lazy and riotous ", and his early 
manhood disedifying '\ for a long time cared little about St. 
Edmund and the special duties of the monastic life. He had an 
intense admiration for Chaucer, and his first large work seems to 
have been The Storie of Thebes, which he represents as a new 
Canterbur}^ tale, told by himself soon after his joining the company 
of pilgrims at Canterbury. It is founded on the Thebaid of Statius 
and the Teseide of Boccaccio, and written in the ten-syllable 
rhyming couplet which Chaucer had used with such effect in The 
Knightes Tale. The prologue is spirited, but when the body of 
the poem is reached the attention soon flags. Chaucer versifies 
with facility, and also with power ; Lydgate has the facility without 
the power. His next considerable work, on the story of Troy, was 
undertaken about a.d. 1412, at the request of Prince Henry, after- 
wards Henry V., and finished in 1420. The prince desired that 
the ' noble storye ' of Troye should be as well known in England 
as elsewhere, and as well written in English — 

' As in the Latyn and the Frenshe it is.' 

Troy was then regarded as the 'antiqua mater' of every European 
nation. It would therefore seem very fitting, that since Wace and 
his English translators, following Geoffrey of Alonmouth, had 
given in the vernacular the story of the original Trojan settlement 
of England under Brutus the great-grandson of Aeneas, the moving 
vicissitudes of the city to which Brutus and Aeneas belonged should 
also now be told in English. This poem is in five books, and 
written, like The Storie of Thebes, in the ten-syllable couplet. It 
is founded on the Latin prose history of Troy by Guido di Colonna, 
a Sicilian jurist of the thirteenth century. The austere old layman 

' ' To my bettre did no reverence. 
Of my sovereyns gafe no fors at al, 
Wex obstinat by inobedience. 
Ran into gardyns, applys ther I stal.' 

* ' Loth to ryse, lother to bedde at eve, 
With unwash handys reedy to dyneer, 
My Pater-noster, my crede, or my beleeve. 
Cast at the cok ; loo ! this was my manere.' 

' ' Of religioun I weryd a blak habite, 
Oonly outward as by apparence.' 
Lydgate's Testament, among his Minor Poems, edited by Mr. Ilalliwell. 
I 2 



Ii6 rilE ENGLISH POETS. 

wrote many things to the disadvantage of the fair sex which are 
painful to the politeness of the monk, who declares that he trans- 
lates them unwillingly, and would give their author, were he alive, 
a 'bitter penance' for his crabbed language. In the third book, 
where the story of Troilus and Cressida is introduced, Lydgate 
seizes the opportunity of paying an ardent tribute of praise, love, 
and admiration to his ' maister Chaucer,' who had chosen that 
subject for a poem. 

The versification of Lydgate, in this Troy-book and in The Storie 
of Thebes, as well as in his numerous shorter pieces, is extremely 
rough. If the structure of the lines is attentively considered, it 
will be seen that he did not regard them as consisting of ten 
syllables and five feet, or at least that he did not generally so 
regard them, but rather as made up of two halves or counter- 
balancing members, each containing two accents. Remembering 
this, the reader can get through a long passage by Lydgate or 
Barclay with some degree of comfort ; though, if he were to read 
the same passage with the expectation of meeting always the due 
number of syllables, his ear would be continually disappointed and 
annoyed. This vicious mode of versification was probably a legacy 
from the alliterative poets, whose popularity, especially in the 
North of England, was so great that their peculiar rhythm long 
survived after rhyme and measure had outwardly carried the day. 
Not to mention Layamon's Brut, where we see a curious mixture 
of rhyme and alliteration, — the former, as the poem proceeds, 
gradually edging out the latter, — romances and other pieces of 
much later date can be pointed out, in which not only rhyme and 
measure but even the stanza form is adopted (for instance, in the 
Aiders of Arthur, published by the Camden Society, 1842), yet 
still alliteration is carefully practised, and the syllabic lawlessness 
which the alliterator held to be his privilege, maintained. In the 
South of England, where the influences of French and Italian 
literature were more powerful, alliteration was repudiated ; thus 
we find Chaucer making his ' Pcrsone ' say, — 

' I am a solhcrnc man, 
I cannot gcslc, ram, ram, ruf, by my Idler.' 

'To geste' meant to write in alliterative style, because of the 
great number of romances or gcstes so written which were then in 
circulation. 

Lydgatc's last notable work was Tlie Falls of Princes, founded 



Z VDGJ TE. 117 

on a French version of the Latin treatise by Boccaccio, De Casibus 
Virorum Illustriuin. It is dedicated to Humphrey Duke of 
Gloucester, brother to Henry V, whom he speaks of as dead, and 
mentions his having written his Troy-book at his desire. The 
subject of this vast poem, which is in nine books, and was printed 
in foho in 1558, may be gathered from the old title-page, which 
runs, ' The Tragedies gathered by Jhon Bochas of all such Princes 
as fell from theyr Estates throughe the Mutability of Fortune since 
the creation of Adam until his time ; wherin may be seen what 
vices bring menne to destruccion, wyth notable warninges howe 
the like may be avoyded. Translated into English by John 
Lidgate, Monke of Burye.' The Monk's Tale of Chaucer proceeds 
on the same lines ; and a company of Marian or Elizabethan poets, 
Sackville, Baldwin, Ferrers, &c., working out the same idea, but 
with a more distinct ethical purpose, produced that stupendous 
but forgotten work, the Myrrour for Magistrates. In this work 
Lydgate adopted the seven-line stanza so much employed by 
Chaucer, and also seems to have taken more pains than before to 
emulate the rhythmic excellence of his master's work. Hence the 
Falls of Princes is, of his three principal poems, by far the most 
readable. In the beginning of the eighth book he complains of 
age and poverty ; and one of the minor poems, written while he 
was employed on this work, is in the form of a letter to the Duke 
of Gloucester, saying that his 'purs was falle in gi-eat rerage' 
(arrears), and asking for money. 

In his old age the genius loci, and the saintly memories which 
clung round the monastery, appear to have influenced the poet 
more than in his youth. We find him composing a metrical ' Life 
of St. Edmund,' which still reposes in MS., and writing the 
' Legend of St. Alban ' for the monks of that famous monastery. 

Of his minor poems a large and not uninteresting selection 
was edited some forty years ago for the Percy Society by Mr. 
H alii well. They are mostly written in an octave stanza, not the 
ottava rima, but one in which the second rhyme embraces the 
second, fourth, fifth and seventh lines, whilst the third rhyme 
connects the sixth and eighth. A considerable number are in the 
' rhyme royal,' or seven-line stanza. Two or three of them are 
satirical, not to say cynical ; several are descriptive ; but the 
majority are either versions of French or Latin fabliaux, or moral- 
izing pieces based on proverbs and old saws. There is much that 
is vivid and forcible in the picture of the manners and humours of 



Il8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

London and Westminster given in London Lickpenny. Pur 
le Roy may remind us of the eifusions of Elkanah Settle the 
city poet, unmercifully ridiculed by Pope in the Duftciad. If it 
may certainly be attributed to Lydgate, it proves that he was living 
in 1433, ill which year occurred the visit of Henry VI to London 
after his coronation, when the citizens received him with extra- 
ordinary demonstrations of joy and loyalty. The pageants, dresses, 
uniforms, speeches, &c., are described by the poet with a weari- 
some minuteness. It is unlikely that Lydgate lived long after 
writing this poem, but the exact year of his death has never been 
ascertained. It happened while he was engaged in translating 
into rhyme royal a French version of the supposed work of Aris- 
totle, addressed to Alexander, which is variously entitled O71 the 
Gover7iinent of Princes, The Secret of Secrets, and The Philosophers 
Stone. At the head of one of the MSS. of this work^ (which 
has never been printed) there is a small picture of Lydgate : he 
is represented as an old man, dressed in the black habit of the 
Benedictines, and tendering, bare-headed and on his knees, his 
book to some august personage above him, who is meant either 
for Henry VI or St. Edmund the patron of his monastery. 

T. Arnold. 

I Harl. 4S26. 



LYDGATE. 1 19 



London Lickpenny. 

To London once my stepps I bent, 
Where trouth in no wyse should be faynt, 
To Westmynster-ward I forthwith went, 
To a man of law to make complaynt ; 
I sayd, ' for Marys love, that holy saynt ! 
Pity the poore that wold proceede ' ; 
But for lack of mony I cold not spede. 

[After visiting all the courts at Westminster one after another, and finding 
that everjvvhere want of cash is the one insuperable impediment, he 
passes eastward to the City.] 

Then unto London I dyd me hye. 

Of all the land it beareth the pryse : 

' Hot pescodes,' one began to crye, 

' Strabery rype, and cherryes in the ryse ' ; 

One bad me come nere and by some spyce, 

Peper and safforne they gan me bede ^, 

But for lack of mony I myght not spede. 

Then to the Chepe I began me drawne, 
Where mutch people I saw for to stand ; 
One ofred me velvet, sylke, and lawne, 
An other he taketh me by the hande, 
'Here is Parys thred, the fynest in the land'; 
I never was used to such thyngs indede, 
And wanting mony, I might not spede. 

Then went I forth by London stone, 

Th[o]roughout all Canwyke streete ; 

Drapers mutch cloth me ofifred anone ; 

Then comes me one, cryed, ' Hot shepes feete ' ; 

One cryde 'makerell,' 'ryshes'* grene,' an other gan greete^ ; 

On bad me by a hood to cover my head, 

But for want of mony I myght not be sped. 

• began to offer me. ^ rushes. ^ cry. 



120 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Then I hyed me into Est-Chepe ; 

One cryes rybbs of befe, and many a pye : 

Pewter pottes they clattered on a heape ; 

There was harpe, pype, and mynstralsye. 

' Yea, by cock ! nay, by cock ! ' some began crye ; 

Some songe of Jenken and Julyan for there mede ; 

But for lack of mony I myght not spede. 

Then into Corn-Hyll anon I yode\ 
Where was mutch stolen gere amonge ; 
I saw where honge myne owne hoode, 
That I had lost amonge the thronge ; 
To by my own hood I thought it wronge, 
I knew it well as I dyd my crede, 
But for lack of mony I could not spede. 

The taverner tooke me by the sieve, 
' Sir,' sayth he, ' wyll you our wyne assay ' ? 
I answered, ' That can not mutch me greve : 
A peny can do no more then it may ' ; 
I drank a pynt, and for it did paye ; 
Yet sone a-hungerd from thence I yede. 
And wantyng mony, I cold not spede. 

Then hyed I me to Belyngsgate ; 

And one cr^^ed, ' Hoo ! go we hence !' 

I prayd a barge-man, for God's sake, 

That he wold spare me my expence. 

' Thou scapst not here,' quod he, ' under two pence ; 

I lyst not yet bestow my almes dede.' 

Thus, lackyng mony, I could not spede. 

Then I convayd me into Kent ; 

For of the law wold I meddle no more ; 

Because no man to me tooke entent, 

I dyght me to do as I dyd before. 

Now Jesus, that in Bethlem was bore. 

Save London, and send trew lawyers there mede ! 

For who so wantcs mony with them shall not spede. 

' went. 



L YD GATE. 



From Lydgate's ' Dietary,' or Rules for Health. 

And if so be that lechis done the faile\ 

Thanne take good hede, and use thynges three, 
Temperat diete, temperat travaile, 

Nat maHcious for none adversity ; 
Meke in trouble, gladde in povertd ; 

Riche with Htel, content with sufifisaunce ; 
Nat grucchyng^, but mery Hke thi degr^ : 

If phisyk lak, make this thy governaunce. 
****** 

Fyre at morowe, and towards bed at eve, 

For mystis blak, and eyre^ of pestilence; 
Betime at masse, thow shalt the better preve, 

First at thi risyng do to God reverence, 
Visite the poor with intyre diligence, 

On al nedy have thow compassioun. 
And God shal sende grace and influence. 

To encrease the and thy possessioun. 

Suffre no surfetis in thy house at nyght. 

Ware of rere-soupers *, and of grete excesse. 
Of noddyng hedes, and of candel light. 

And sloth at morow, and slomberyng idelnes, 
Whiche of al vices is chief porteresse ; 

Voyde al drunklew, lyers, and lechours ; 
Of al unthriftes exile the mastres, 

That is to say, dyse, players, and haserdours. 

After mete beware, make not to longe slepe, 

Hede, foote, and stomak preserve ay from cold ; 

Be not to pensyf, of thought take no kepe ; 
After thy rent, mayntene thyn houshold, 

Sufifre in tyme, in thi right be bold ; 
Swere none othis no man to begyle ; 

In thy youth be lusty, sad whan thow art olde. 

• if physicians make tlice fall ill. ^ munnuring. 

■' air. * late suppers. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Dyne nat at morwe afome thyn appetite, 

Clere eyre and vvalkyng makith goode digestioun, 
Between males drynk nat for no froward delite, 

But ^ thurst or travaile yeve the occasion ; 
Over-salt mete doth grete oppressioun 

To feble stomakes, whan they can nat refrayne ; 
For nothing more contrary to theyr complexioun, 

Of gredy handes the stomak hath grete peyne. 

Thus in two thinges standith al the welthe 

Of sowle and body, whoso lust to sewe '-, 
Moderat foode gevith to man his helthe, 

And al surfetis doth from hym remeue', 
And charite unto the sowle is dewe : 

This ressayt* is bought of no poticarye, 
Of maister Antony, nor of maister Hewe, 

To all indifferent, richest diatorye\ 



Description of the Golden Age. 

\Falh of Princes, book vii.] 

Rightwisenes chastised al robbours, 

By egall balaunce of execucion. 

Fraud, false mede, put backward fro jurours. 

True promes holde, made no delacioun " ; 

Forswearing shamed durst enter in no toun, 

Nor lesingmongers, because Attemperaunce 

Had in that world wholy the governaunce. 

That golden world could love God and drede, 
All the seven dedes of mercy for to use, 
The rich was ready to do almes dede, 
Who asked harbour, men did him not refuse ; 
No man of malice would other tho accuse, 
Defame his neighbour, because Attemperaunce 
Had in that world wholy the governaunce. 

' unless. ^ follow. - remove. * receipt, for recipe. 

' dietary. " no informers at work. 



Z YDGA TE. 

The true marchant by measure bought and sold, 
Deceipt was none in the artificer, 
Making no bailees, the plough was truely hold, 
Abacke stode Idlenes, farre from labourer, 
Discrecion marcial at diner "and supper. 
Content with measure, because Attemperaunce 
Had in that world wholy the governaunce. 

Of wast in clothing was that time none excesse ; 
Men might the lord from his subjectes know ; 
A difference made twene povertie and richesse, 
Twene a princesse and other states lowe ; 
Of horned boastes no boast was tho blowe, 
Nor counterfeit feining, because Attemperaunce 
Had in that world wholy the governaunce. 

This golden world long whylc dyd endure. 

Was none allay in that metall sene, 

Tyll Saturne ceased, by record of scripture, 

Jupiter reygned, put out his father clene, 

Chaunged obrison into silver shene, 

Al up so downe, because Attemperaunce 

Was set asyde, and loste her governaunce. 



THOMAS OCCLEVE. 



[Thomas Occleve, or Hoccleve (the name is spelt both ways in the MSS. 
of his works), was born between 1365 and 1370. He is thought to have 
been of north-country parentage, deriving his name from the village of 
Hocclough in Northumberland. One of his minor poems, addressed to 
Richard duke of York, cannot well have been written before I448, since 
the young prince Edward (bom in 1441) and his French tutor Picard are 
mentioned in it. Occleve must therefore have lived to a great age, but the 
precise year of his death is unknown. His principal poem, De Regimine 
Principum, was written in 141 1 or 1412. The ascertainable dates of his 
minor poems, of which only a portion has been printed, range between 
1400 and 1448.] 

The principal work of Thomas Occleve is the poem De 
Regimine Principum, a free version of the Latin treatise written 
under that title by Aegidius or Giles, a native of Rome and a 
disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he dedicated to Philip le 
Hardi, son of St. Louis. This poem is in the rhyme royal, and 
contains between five and six thousand lines. Nearly a third part 
of it is taken up with a Prelude or proem, which is considerably 
more interesting than the work itself A slight analysis of this 
proem will bring Occleve before us, both as a man and a writer, 
more clearly than anything else could. 

After a restless night, spent in painful and fruitless musing on 
the insecurity of all things here below, the poet goes forth into the 
fields near his lodging in the Strand. A poor old man meets him, 
and plies him with questions as to the reason of his dejection. 
After naming various causes of trouble, he says — 

* If thou fele the in any of thise ygreved. 
Or elles what, tel on in Goddcs name ; 
Thou seest, al day the hegger is releved, 
That syt and beggith, crookyd, blynd, and lame ; 
And whi ? for he ne letlith for no shame 
His harmes and his povcrl to bewreye 
To folke, as the! goon bi hym bi the wove.' 



OCCLEVE. 125 

The old man goes on to warn him against indulgence in too 
prolonged and solitary meditations. By these, he says, men are 
sometimes led on to deny the faith, as happened in the case of a 
heretic ' not longe agoo,' who denied that after consecration the 
eucharistic bread was Christ's body. For this he was burnt, 
though the prince (Henr)') tried hard to save him, and promised 
to obtain his full pardon and the means of living from the king, if 
he would return to the faith \ He speaks also of the folly of 
extravagance in dress, — that costly and ' outragious array,' which 
will ruin England if it is not stopped, — on the thoughtlessness and 
wantonness of youth, and so on. The author, much consoled and 
edified, tells his mentor who he is, and how he lives. He is a 
writer to the Pri\-y Seal'^, and has an annuity of twenty marks 
a year in the Exchequer, granted him by Henry IV. But his mis- 
fortune is that he can never depend on this being paid regularly, • 
so that he is sometimes in danger of starving. If this be so now, 
what will be his plight when he is grown old, and has no other 
resource but the annuity? Herein lies the secret cause of his 
dejection. The old man, after counselling a religious resignation 
to the divine will, questions him still further, and finding that he 
is a literary man, and had known Chaucer, advises him to compose 
some new work and present it to the Prince, who will perhaps 
graciously accept it and relieve the author from his distress : 

' Write him no thinge that sowneth unto vice, 
Kithe-' thi love in mater of saddenesse*, 
Loke if thou finde canst any tretice 
Grounded on his astates holsomnesse ; 
Suche thing translate, and unto his highnesse, 
As humbely as thou canst, present ; 
Do this, my sone.' ' Fadir, I assent.' 

But he laments that ' the honour of English tounge is deed,' with 
whom he might have taken counsel ; then follows the celebrated 
passage on Chaucer, which will be found among our extracts*. 
The poet returns home, takes parchment, and writes a dedication 

' This was Thomas Badby, executed in April 1410, under the statute of 
1 401. 

^ Among the Additional MSS. in the British Museum may be seen a 
large volume, No. 24,062. the documents in which, or the greater part 
of them, are said to be in Occleve's handwriting. 

' Make known. * a serious subject. '' See pp. IJ7, 128. 



126 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

of his work to the Prince of Wales, Shakspere's Prince Hal. It is 
founded, he says, on Aristotle's ' boke of governaunce' (the supposed 
correspondence between Aristotle and Alexander which made so 
deep an impression on the medieval mind), and the work of 
Aegidius above mentioned ; he has also studied the work of Jacobus 
de Cessolis (Casali) called The Chess-moralized'^; and the fruits 
of these studies he now presents to the Prince. The poem is not 
interesting. The various aspects under which his duty presents, 
or ought to present, itself to the mind of a ruler are considered 
successively under the heads of justice, good faith, temperance, 
mercy, prudence, deliberation, and so forth. 

Other poems ascribed to Occleve are — the story of Gerelaus 
emperor of Rome and his virtuous empress, and that of Jonathas 
and the three jewels. Both these are from the Gesta Ronanoritm: 
they have never been printed, but the story of Jonathas was 
modernised by Browne and introduced into the Shepherd's Pipe 
(1614). Some of his minor poems were edited in 179S by a 
Mr. Mason. The longest of them, La male regie de T. H occleve, 
exhibits a picture of the jovial and riotous life led by the poet in 
his younger days, which is in complete accordance with that 
presented in the proem to the De Regimine. 

T. Arnold. 

* One of the first books printed by Caxton. under the name of The Game 
and Play of the Chesse, 



OCCLEVE, 127 



From the Proem to the 'De Regimine Principum.' 

But wele awaye, so is myn herte wo, 
That the honour of Enghsh tounge is deed, 
Of which I was wonte have counseil and rede. 

O maister dere and fader reverent. 

My maister Chaucer ! floure of eloquence, 

Mirrour of fructuous entendement, 

O universal fadir in science. 

Alias ! that thou thyne excellent prudence 

In thy bedde mortel myghtest not bequethe ; 

What eyled Dethe? alias, why wold he sle the? 

O Dethe, that didest not harme singulere 

In slaughtre of hym, but alle this lond it smerteth ; 

But natheles yit hast thow no powere 

His name to slee ; his hye vertu asterteth 

Unslayne fro the, whiche ay us lyfly herteth^ 

With bookes of his ornat endityng. 

That is to alle this londe enlumynyng. 

Hastow- nat eek my maistre Gower slayne? 

Whos vertu I am insufficient 

For to descreyve, I wote wel in certeyne : 

For to sleen alle this world thow hast y-ment. 

But syn oure Lord Christ was obedient 

To thee, in feyth I can no better seye, 

His creatures musten thee obeye. 



encourages. 2 Hast thou. 



128 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



From the ' De Regimine Prinxipum.' 

Symple is my goste, and scars my letterure, 

Unto youre excellence for to write 

Myne 'nward love, and yit in aventure 

Wol I me put, thogh I can but lyte ; 

r\Iy dere maister, — God his soule quyte, — 

And fader, Chaucer, fayne wold have me taught, 

But I was dulle, and lerned lyte or naught. 

Alias ! my worthy maister honorable, 
This londes verray tresour and richesse, 
Dethe by thy dethe hath harme irreperable 
Unto us done : hir vengeable duresse 
Dispoiled hath this londe of the swetnesse 
Of rethoryk, for unto Tullius 
Was never man so like amonges us. 

Also, who was hyer in phylosofye 

To Aristotle in our tunge but thow? 

The steppes of Virgile in poysye 

Thou folwedest eke : men wote well ynow. 

That Gombre-worlde ^, that the my maister slowe^, 

(Wolde I slayne were !) dethe was to hastyf 

To renne on the, and revii the thy lyf. 



She myght han taryed hir vengeaunce a whyle, 

Tyl sum man hadde egal to the be ; 

Nay, let be that ; she wel knew that this ylc 

May never man forth bringe lik to the, 

And hir office nedys do must she ; 

(iod bad hire soo, I trustc as for the beste, 

O mayslir, maystir, God thy soule restc ! 

' Ijanc of the world ; viz. death. * slew. 



JAMES THE FIRST 

OF SCOTLAND. 



[Born 1394. Captured by the English in time of peace 1405, and kept a 
prisoner in the Tower, in Nottingham Castle, at Croydon, and at Windsor, 
till 1 4 24, when he was released. In that year he married Lady Jane 
Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and granddaughter of John 
of Gaunt. She was the heroine of his principal poem, The King's Qnair. 
In 1437, after reigning thirteen years in Scotland, the king was assassinated 
at Perth. Besides The King's Quair, he is commonly supposed to have 
written one or two other poems, notably the humorous ballad Christ's Kirk 
on the Green.~[ 

James the First of Scotland is one of the earliest and one of 
the best of the imitators of Chaucer, and is the first of that line 
of Scottish poets who kept the lamp of poetry burning during the 
darkness of the fifteenth century. His chief poem, The King's 
Qnair, or the King's Book, seems to have been written in 1423 or 
1424, about the time of his marriage ; when he was thirty years 
old and when Chaucer had been in his grave nearly a quarter of 
a century. The King's Quair, written in the seven-lined stanza, is 
about 200 stanzas long, and it tells in a style that is a curious 
mixture of autobiographical fact and allegorical romance the story 
of the captive king's courtship of the lady who became his wife, 
Lady Jane Beaufort. The royal prisoner, after a sleepless night 
spent in reading Boethius, rises at the sound of the matins bell 
and begins to complain of his fortune. Suddenly in the garden 
beneath he sees a lady, so beautiful that he who has never known 
love till now is instantly subdued, the nightingale and all the 
other birds singing in harmony with his passion. The lady dis- 
appears, and half-sleeping, half-swooning, he dreams of a strange 
sequel. He seems to be carried up 'fro spere to spere' to the 
Empire of Venus ; he wins her favour, but since his desperate case 
requires 'the help of other mo than one goddesse,' he is sent on 
with Good Hope for guide to the Palace of Minerva. The goddess 

VOL. I. K 



130 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

of Wisdom receives him with a speech on Free Will ; and finally, 
after an interview with the great goddess Fortune herself, he 
wakes to find a real messenger from Venus, ' a turture, quhite as 
calk,' bringing him a flowering branch, joyful evidence that his 
suit is to succeed : — 

' " Awake ! awake ! I bring, lover, I bring 
The newis glad that blissful ben and sure 

Of thy confort ; now laugh, and play, and sing, 
That art beside so glad an aventure ; 
For in the hevyn decretit is the cure." 

And unto me the flouris did present ; 

"With wyngis spred hir wayis furth sche went.' 

With this and with the poet's song of thankfulness The Kings 
Quair ends. 

No subject could be better fitted than the love-story of the 
captive king for a poem in the accepted trouvere style. The 
paganism of romance was fond of representing man as passive 
material in the hands of two supernatural powers, Fortune and 
Love ; and poetry for two centuries was for ever returning to the 
theme. James the First was neither original enough to depart 
from the poetical conventions of his time, nor artist enough to 
work out his subject without confusion and repetition ; and yet 
the personal interest of his story and its adaptability to the chosen 
form of treatment would be enough to save TJie King's Quair from 
oblivion, even without the unquestionable beauty of much of the 
verse. The dress is the common tinsel of the time, but the body 
beneath is real and human. 

We have said that King James was an early and close imitator 
of Chaucer ^ His nineteen years of captivity allowed him to steep 
himself in Chaucer's poetry, and any Chaucerian student who 
reads The King^s Quair is constantly arrested by a line or a stanza 
or a whole episode that exactly recalls the master. It is unneces- 

' The concluding stanza of the poem is as follows: — 
' Vnto impnis of my maisteris dere, 

Gowere and Chaiicere, that on the steppis satt 
Of rethorike, quhill thai were lyvand here, 

Supcilaliue as poctis laureate, 
In moralitee and elofpicnce ornate, 
I recommend my buk in lynis seven. 
And eke ihair saulis vnto the blisse of hevin.' 



JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND. 131 

sary to point out, for instance, the close resemblance of the passage 
which we here quote, the King's first sight of Lady Jane, to the 
passage in The Knightes Tale (see p. ) where Palamon and Arcite 
first see Emilye. Not only the general idea but the details are 
copied ; for example, the King, like Palamon, doubts whether the 
beautiful vision be woman or goddess. The ascent to the Empire 
of Venus is like an abridgement of The Hous of Fame. Minerva's 
discussion of Free Will is imitated from Chaucer's rendering of 
the same theme, after Boethius, in Troylus and Creseyde. The 
catalogue of beasts near the dwelling of Fortune, is an echo of 
Chaucer's catalogue of birds in The Parlement of Foules. Isolated 
instances of imitation abound ; thus 

' Til Phebus endit had his hemes brycht, 
And bad go farewel every lefe and floure, 
That is to say, approchen gan the night,' 

is a repetition of a well-known passage in The Frankeleynes Tale : — 

' For the orizont had left the sonne his liht, 
(That is as much to sayn as it was nyht).' 

A passage in Troylus is recalled by 

' O besy goste, ay flikering to and fro ' ; 

and another by the King's concluding address to his book — ' Go, 
litel tretis.' Outside The King's Qiiair, the 'gude and godlie 
ballate' here given (although it would be difficult to prove that 
it belongs to King James) is obviously modelled on the ' good 
counseil of Chaucer' which we have quoted above (p. ). These 
examples of the influence of Chaucer upon so rich a mind as that 
of the young King of Scotland are strong evidence of the greatness 
of the earlier poet and of the instantaneousness with which his 
genius made itself felt. 

Editor. 



K 2 



132 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The King's Quair. 

(St. 30 et seqq.) 

Bewailling in my chamber thus allone, 
Despeired of all joye and remedye, 

For-tiret of my thought and wo-begone, 
And to the wyndow gan I walk in hye, 

To see the warld and folk that went forbye, 
As for the tyme though I of mirthis fude 
Mycht have no more, to lake it did me gude. 

Now was there maid fast by the Touris wall 
A gardyn faire, and in the corneris set 

Ane herbere grene, with wandis long and small 
Railit about, and so with treis set 

Was all the place, and hawthorn hegis knet, 
That lyf^ was non walkyng there forbye, 
That mycht within scarce any wight aspy. 

So thick the beuis^ and the leves grene 
Beschadit all the allyes that there were, 

And myddis every herbere mycht be sene 
The scharpe grene suete jenepere, 

Growing so fair with branchis here and there, 
That, as it semyt to a lyf without. 
The bewis spred the herbere all about. 

And on the smalii grene twistis sat 
The lytil suctci nyghtingale, and song 

So loud and clere, the ympnis consecrat 
Of luvis use, now soft now lowd among, 

That all the gardynis and the wallis rong 
Ryght of thaire song, and on the copill next 
Of thaire suete armony, and lo the text : — 

' living thing. " boughs. 



JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND. 133 

' Worschippe, ye that loveris bene, this May, 
For of your bliss the kalendis are begonne, 

And sing with us, away winter, away, 

Come somer, come, the suete seson and sonne, 

Awake, for schame ! that have your hevynis wonne. 
And amourously lift up your hedis all. 
Thank Lufe that list you to his merci call.' 

Ouhen thai this song had song a littil thrawe', 
Thai stent a quhile, and therewith unafraid. 

As I beheld, and kest myn eyen a-lawe^. 

From beugh to beugh thay hippit and thai plaid. 

And freschly in thair birdis kynd araid 

Thaire fatheris' new, and fret thame in the sonne, 
And thankit Lufe, that had thair makis* wonne. 

This was the plane ditie of thair note. 
And therewithall unto myself I thought, 

Ouhat lufe is this, that makis birdis dote? 

Ouhat may this be, how cummyth it of ought ? 

Quhat nedith it to be so dere ybought ? 
It is nothing, trowe I, bot feynit chere^, 
And that one list to counterfeten chere. 

Eft wold I think, O Lord, quhat may this be? 

That Lufe is of so noble mycht and kynde, 
Lufing his folk, and suich prosperitee 

Is it of him, as we in bukis fynd, 
May he oure hertis setten and unbynd : 

Hath he upon our hertis suich maistrye? 

Or all this is bot feynit fantasye? 

For gifF he be of so grete excellence. 

That he of every wight hath cure and charge, 

Quhat have I gilt to him, or doon offense 
That I am thrall, and birdis gone at large? 

Sen him to serve he mycht set my corage. 
And, gif he be not so, than may I seyne 
Quhat makis folk to jangill of him in veyne ? 

space. * below. ^ feathers. * mates. ' mirth. 



134 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Can I not ellis fynd bot gifif that he 

Be lord, and, as a god, may lyve and regne. 

To bynd, and louse, and maken thrallis free, 
Than wold I pray his blissful grace benigne 

To hable ^ me unto his service digne, 
And evermore for to be one of tho 
Him trewly for to serve in wele and wo. 

And therewith kest I doun myn eye ageyne, 
Ouhare as I saw walkyng under the Toure, 

Full secretely, new cumyn hir to pleyne. 
The fairest or the freschest younge floure 

That ever I sawe, methought, before that houre, 
For quhich sodayne abate, anon astert 
The blude of all my body to my hert. 

And though I stood abaisit tho a lyte. 
No wonder was ; for quhy? my wittis all 

Were so ouercome with plesance and delyte, 
Only through latting of myn eyen fall, 

That sudaynly my hert become hir thrall, 
For ever of free wyll, for of manace ^ 
There was no takyn^ in her suete face. 

And in my hede I drew r^'cht hastily. 
And eft sones I lent it out ageyne, 

And saw hir walk that verray womanly, 

With no wight mo, bot only women tueyne, 

Than gan I studye in myself and seyne, 
Ah ! suete, are ye a warldly creature, 
Or hevinly thing in likeness of nature ? 

Or ar ye god Cupidis owin princesse ? 

And cumyn are to louse me out of band, 
Or are ye veray Nature the goddesse. 

That have depayntit with your hevinly hand 
This gardyn full of flouris, as they stand .'' 

Quhat sail I think, allace ! quhat reverence 

Sail I minister to your excellence. 

' enable. ' pride, lit. mcn.icc. ' token. 



i^a 



JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND. 

Giff ye a goddesse be, and that ye like 

To do me payne, I may it not astert ; 
Giff ye be warldly wight, that dooth me sike', 

Quhy lest'^ God mak you so, my derest hert, 
To do a sely prisoner thus smert, 

That kifis you all, and wote of nought but wo ? 

And, therefore, merci, suete ! sen it is so. 

Quhen I a lytill thrawe had maid my mone, 
Bewailing myn infortune and my chance, 

Unknawin how or quhat was best to done, 
So ferre I fallyng into lufis dance, 

That sodeynly my wit, my contenance, 

My hert, my will, my nature, and my mynd, 
Was changit clene rycht in ane other kind. 



In hir was youth, beautee, with humble aport, 
BouHtee, richesse, and womanly faiture, 

God better wote than my pen can report ; 
Wisdome, largesse, estate, and conyng sure 

In every point, so guydit hir mesure. 

In word, in dede, in schap, in contenance. 
That nature mycht no more hir childe auance. 

Throw quhich anon I knew and understude 
Wele that sche was a wardly creature. 

On quhom to rest myn eye, so much gude 
It did my wofuU hert, I yow assure 

That it was to me joye without mesure, 
And, at the last, my luke unto the hevin 
I threwe furthwith, and said thir versis sevin : 

O Venus clere ! of goddis stellifyit. 

To quhom I yelde homage and sacrifise, 

Fro this day forth your grace be magnifyit, 
That me ressauit^ have in such [a] wise. 

To lyve under your law and your seruise ; 
Now help me furth, and for your merci lede 
My hert to rest, that deis nere* for drede. 

> causes me to sigh, * did it please. ^ received. * nearly dies. 



\ 



136 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Quhen I with gude entent this orison 
Thus endit had, I stynt a lytill stound, 

And eft myn eye full pitously adoun 
I kest, behalding unto hir lytill hound, 

That with his bellis playit on the ground. 
Than wold I say, and sigh therewith a lyte, 
Ah ! wele were him that now were in thy plyte ! 

An other quhile the lytill nyghtingale, 
That sat upon the twiggis, wold I chide, 

And say rycht thus, Quhare are thy notis smale. 
That thou of love has song this morowe tyde ? 

Seis thou not hir that sittis the besyde ? 
For Venus' sake, the blisfull goddesse clere, 
Sing on agane, and make my Lady chere. 

From 'The Gud-e and Godlie Ballates' (1570). 

Sen throw vertew incressis dignitie. 

And vertew is flour and rute of nobles ay, 
Of ony wit, or quhat estait thou be 

Ris ^ steppis few, and dreid for none effray : 

Exill al vice, and follow treuth alway ; 
Lufe maist thy God, that first thy lufe began, 
And for ilk inche He will th^ quyte ane span. 
Be not ouir proude in thy prosperitie. 

For as it cummis, sa will it pass away ; 
The tyme to compt is schort, thou may weill se, 

For of grene gress sone cummis wallowit hay. 

Labour in treuth, quhilk suith is of thy fay; 
Traist maist in God, for He best gyde th^ can, 
And for ilk inche He will thd quyte ane span. 
Sen word is thrall, and thocht is only fre, 

Thou dant^ thy toung, that power hes and may. 
Thou steik thy ene' fra warldis vanitie, 

Refraine thy lust, and harkin quhat I say ; 

Graip or thou slyde'', and keip furth the hie way. 
Thou hald thi^ fast upon thy God and man. 
And for ilk inche He will the? quyte ane span. 
' rise. ° daiiul i c. t.imc, rcstiain. ^ eyes. ' grip ere thou blitlc. 



ROBERT HENRYSON. 



[Of Robert Henryson, the charming fabulist, Chaucer's aptest and 
brightest scholar, almost nothing is known. David Laing conjectures 
him to have been born about 1425, to have been educated at some foreign 
university, and to have died towards the closing years of the fifteenth 
century. It is certain that in 1462, being then 'in Artibus Licentiatus et in 
Decretis Bacchalarius,' he was incorporated of the University of Glasgow ; 
and that he was afterwards schoolmaster in Dunfermline, and worked there 
as a notary-public also] 

Henryson was an accomplished man and a good and genuine 
poet. He had studied Chaucer with the ardour and insight of an 
original mind, and while he has much in common with his master, 
he has much that is his own. His verse is usually well-minted 
and of full weight. Weak lines are rare in him ; he had the 
instinct of the refrain, and was fond of doing feats in rhythm and 
rhyme ; he is close, compact, and energetic. Again, he does not 
often let his learning or his imagination run away with him and 
divert him from his main issue. He subordinates himself to the 
matter he has in hand ; he keeps himself to the point, and never 
seeks to develope for development's sake ; and so, as it appears to 
me, he approves himself a true artist. It follows that, as a story- 
teller, he is seen to great advantage. He narrates with a gaiety, 
an ease, a rapidity, not to be surpassed in English literature 
between Chaucer and Burns. That, moreover, he was a born 
dramatist, there is scarce one of his fables but will prove. It is 
to be noted that he uses dialogue as a good playwright would use 
it ; it is a means with him not only of explaining a personage but 
of painting a situation, not only of introducing a moral but of 
advancing an intrigue. He had withal an abundance of wit, 
humour, and good sense ; he had considered life and his fellow 



138 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

men, nature and religion, the fashions and abuses of his epoch, with 
the grave, observant amiabihty of a true poet ; he was directly in 
sympathy with many things ; he loved to read and to laugh ; 
it was his business to moralise and teach. It was natural that 
he should choose the fable as a means of expressing himself It 
was fortunate as well ; for his fables are perhaps the best in the 
language, and are worthy of consideration and regard even after 
La Fontaine himself 

To a modern eye his dialect is distressingly quaint and crabbed. 
In his hands, however, it is a right instrument, narrow in com- 
pass, it may be, but with its every note sonorous and responsive. 
To know the use he made of it in dialogue, he must be studied 
in Robyne and Makyne, the earliest English pastoral ; or at such 
moments as that of the conversation between the widows of the 
Cock who has just been snatched away by the Fox ; or in the 
incomparable Taile of the Wolf that got the Nek-Herring throw 
the Wrinkis of the Fox that Begylit the Cadgear, which, outside 
La Fontaine, I conceive to be one of the high-water marks of the 
modern apologue. In such poems as The Three Deid Poivis^, 
where he has anticipated a something of Hamlet at Yorick's grave, 
as The Abbey Walk., the Garmotid of Fair Ladies, the Reasotiing 
between Age and Youth, it is employed as a vehicle for the expres- 
sion of austere thought, of quaint ■ conceitedness, of solemn and 
earnest devotion, of satirical comment, with equal ease and equal 
success. As a specimen of classic description — as the classic 
appeared to the mediaeval mind — I should like to quote at length 
his dream of ^sop. As a specimen of what may be called the 
choice and refined realism that informs his work, we may give 
a few stanzas from the prelude to his Testament of Cresseid. It 
was winter, he says, when he began his song, but, he adds, in 
despite of the cold, 

'Within mine orature 
I stiide, when Titan with his bemis bricht 

Withdrawin doun, and sylit'-' undercure, 

And fair Venus, the beauty oj the nicht, 
Uprais, and set unto the west full richt 

Ilir goldin face, in oppositioun 

Of God rhoebus, direct discending doun. 

'skulls. ' hidden. 



FIENRYSOA". 139 



Throwout the glass hir bemis brast so fair 

That I micht se on everie side me by. 
The northin wind had purifyit the air, 

And sched the misty claudis jra the sky^. 

The frost freisit, the blastis bitterly 
Fra Pole Artick came quhistling loud and schill, 
And caiisit me reniufe aganist my will. 

4: 4: :{: 4: :f: 

/ mend the fire, and beikit- me about. 

Than ttiik a drink my spreitis to comfort, 

And armit me weill fra the cauld thairoiit ; 

To cut the winter nicht and mak it schort, 
I tuik ane Quair^, and left all uther sport, 

Writtin be worthie Chaucer glorious 

Of fair Cresseid and lusty Troilus.' 

In this charming description Henryson, by the use of simple 
and natural means and by the operation of a principle of selection 
that is nothing if not artistic, has produced an impression that 
would not disgrace a poet skilled in the knacks and fashions of 
the most pictorial school. Indeed I confess to having read in its 
connection a poem that might in many ways be imitated from it 
{La Bojine Soiree), and to feeling and seeing more with Henry- 
son than with Theophile Gautier. 

W. E. Henley. 

* ' The wind had swept from the wide atmosphere, 

Each vapour that obscured the sunset's ray.' Shelley. 
' bustled. ' book. 



140 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Garmond of Fair Ladies 

Wald my gud Lady lufe me best, 

And wirk eftir my will, 
I suld ane Garmond gudliest 

Gar mak hir body till. 

Off hie honour suld be hir hud, 

Upoun hir heid to weir, 
Garneist with governance so gud, 

Na demyng suld hir deir. 

Hir sark suld be hir body nixt, 

Of chestetie so quhyt, 
With schame and dreid togidder mixt, 

The same suld be perfyt. 

Hir kirtill suld be of clene Constance, 

Lasit with lesum^ lufe. 
The mailyheis ^ of continuance 

For nevir to remufe. 

Hir gown suld be of gudliness 

Weill ribband with renowne, 
Purfillit with plesour in ilk place, 

Furrit with fyne fassoun ^ 

Hir belt suld be of benignitie, 

About hir middill meit ; 
Hir mantill of humilitie, 

To tholP bayth wind and weit. 

Hir hat suld be of fair having 

And hir tepat ° of trewth, 
Hir patelet " of gude pansing'', 

Hir hals-ribbane * of rewth. 

lawful. '■' cylct-holcs. ' good manners. 'withstand. 

■■ tippet. * ruffct. ' fair thouijht. ' ncck-iibband. 



HENRYSON. 141 



Hir slevis suld be of esperance, 

To keip hir fra dispair ; 
Hir gluvis of the gud govirnance, 

To hyd hir fyngearis fair. 

Hir schone ^ suld be of sickernes^, 
In syne that scho nocht slyd ; 

Hir hoiss ^ of honestie, I ges, 
I suld for hir provyd, 

Wald scho put on this Garmond gay, 
I durst sweir by my seill *, 

That scho woir nevir grene nor gray 
That set ^ hir half so weill. 



The Taill of the Lyoun and the Mous. 

Ane Lyoun at his pray wery foirrun ^, 
To recreat his limmis and to rest, 

Beikand ^ his breist and bellie at the sone. 
Under ane tree lay in the fair forrest, 
Swa * come ane trip ^ of Myis out of thair nest, 

Rycht tait and trig ^'', all dansand in ane gyis '^, 

And ouer the Lyoun lansit ^'■^ twyis or thrys. 

He lay so still, the Myis wes nocht effeird 
Bot to and fro out ouer him tuke thair. trace, 

Sum tirllit at the campis ^^ of his beird. 

Sum spairit nocht to claw him on the face ; 
Merie and glaid, thus dansit thay ane space. 

Till at the last the nobill Lyoun woke. 

And with his pow" the maister Mous he tuke. 

' shoes. ^ security. ^ hosen. * knowledge. * suited, 

foundered, spent. ' basking; as a transitive verb. " So. 

' band. '" gamesome and dainty. " figure. ^^ darted. 



" band. '" gamesome ana 

" long hair, locks. " paw. 



142 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Scho gaif ane cry, and all the laif ^ agast 

Thair dansing left, and hid thame sone allquhair ; 
Scho that wes tane, cryit and weipit fast, 

And said, AUace ! oftymes, that scho come thair ; 

' Now am I tane ane wofull presonair, 
And for my gilt traistis "^ incontinent. 
Of lyfe and deith to thoill ^ the jugement.' 
Than spak the Lyoun to that cairfull * Mous, 

'Thou cative wretche, and vile unworthie thing, 
Ouer malapert, and eik presumpteous 

Thow wes, to mak out ouer me thy tripping. 

Knew thow nocht weill, I wes baith lord and king 
Of Beistis all?' 'Yes,' quod the Mous. 'I knaw ; 
But I misknew, because ye lay so law. 
' Lord ! I beseik thy kinglie royaltie, 

Heir quhat I say, and tak in pacience ; 
Considder first my simple povertie. 

And syne thy mychtie hie magnificence : 

See als how thingis done of negligence, 
Nouther^ of malice nor presumptioun, 
Erar '^ suld half grace and remissioun. 
' We wir repleit, and had grit haboundance 

Of alkin "' thingis, sic as to us effeird *. 
The sweit sesoun provokit us to dance, 

And mak sic mirth as Nature to us leird *. 

Ye lay so still, and law upon the eird, 
That, be my saull, we wend " ye had bene deid, 
Ellis wald we nocht half dancit ouer your hcid.' 
'Thy fals excuse,' the Lyoun said agane, 

' Sail nocht availl ane myte, I underta " : 
I put the case, I had bene deid or slane 

And syne my skyn bene stoppit^'^ full of stra, 

Thocht thow had found my figure lyand swa, 
Because it bair the prent of my persoun, 
Thow suld for feir on knees half fallin doun. 

' rest. ^ expect. ^ cmliire. * sorrowful. ' And not. 

* rather. ' all manner of. " api)erlaine(I. " laughl. 

*" thought. " undertake, vow. " stuffed. 



henryson: 143 



'For thy trespas thow sail male na defence, 

My nobill persoun thus to vilipend ; 
Of thy feiris, nor thy awin negligence, 

For to excuse, thow can na cause pretend ; 

Thairfoir thow suffer sail ane schamefuU end. 
And deith, sic as to tressoun is decreit, 
On to the gallons harlit ^ be the feit.' 
' A mercie. Lord ! at thy gentrice ^ I ase ^ : 

As thow art king of beistis coronat *, 
Sober thy wraith, and let thy yre ouerpas. 

And mak thy mynd to mercy inclynat ; 

I grant offence is done to thyne estait, 
Ouhairfoir I worthie am to suffer deid, 
Bot^ gif thy kinghe mercie reik'' remeid^ 
' In everie juge mercy and reuth suld be 

As assessouris, and collaterall. 
Without mercie Justice is crueltie, 

As said is in the Lawis Spirituall ; 

Ouhen rigour sittis in the tribunall, 
The equitie of Law quha may sustene ? 
Richt few or nane, but ^ mercie gang betwene. 
Alswa ye knaw the honour triumphall 

Of alP" victour upon the strenth dependis 
Of his conqueist, quhilk manlie in battell 

Throw jeopardie of weir lang defendis. 

Quhat price or loving ^^ quhen the battell endis 
Is said of him, that ouercummis ane man 
Him^^ to defend quhilk nouther may nor can? 
' Ane thousand myis to kill, and eke devoir, 

Is lytill manheid to ane strong Lyoun ; 
Full lytill worschip haif ye wyn thairfoir, 

To quhais strenth is na comparisoun : 

It will degraid some part of your renoun, 
To slay ane Mous quhilk may mak na defence, 
Bot^^ askand mercie at your Excellence. 

' dragged, trundled. '■' nobleness, magnanimity. ' ask. 

' crowned. '•" and * unless. '' and " bestow pardon. " unless, 

'"every. "praise. " For 'himself.' '^ unless it be that of. 



144 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Also, it semis ^ nocht your celsitude ^, 
Quhilk usis daylie meittis delitious, 

To syle your teith, or lippis, with my blude, 
Quhilk to your stomok is contagious : 
Unhailsum meit is of ane sairie' Mous, 

And that namelie untill ane Strang Lyoun 

Wont till be fed with gentill vennisoun. 

' My lyfe is lytill worth, my deith is less, 

Yet and I leif, I may peradventure 
Supple your Hienes beand in destres ; 

For oft is sane, ane man of small stature 

Reskewit has ane Lord of hie honour, 
Keipit that wes in point to be ouerthrawin *, 
Throw misfortune. Sie cace may be your awin.' 

Ouhen this was said, the Lyoun his language 
Paissit ^ and thocht according to ressoun, 

And gart marcie his cruell yre asswage, 
And to the Mous grantit remissioun, 
Opinnit his pow, and scho on kneis fell doun, 

And baith his handis unto the hevin upheld, 

Cryand 'Almychtie God, mot you foryeild^!' 

Quhen scho wes gone, the Lyoun held to hunt, 
For he had nocht, bot lavit on his pray, 

And slew baith tayme and wylde, as he was wont, 
And in the cuntrie maid ane grait deray " ; 
Till at the last, the pepill fand the way 

This cruell Lyoun how that they mycht tak. 

Of hempyn cordis Strang nettis couth thay mak. 

And in ane rod, quhair he wes wont to ryn, 
With raipis rude fra tre to tre it band : 

Syne kest ane range on raw the wod* within, 
With hornis blast, and kennettis ** fast calland : 
The Lyoun fled, and throw the rone ^° rynnand, 

' it does not become. '■' highness. •' sorry. ^ tli.al w.is 

just upon the point of being ovcrlhrovvn. '' apjicased. " Almighty 

God reward you. ' disorder. * i.e. they drove the wood. 
' hounds. '" sciub. 



HENJiYSON: 145 



Fell in the nett, and hankit^ fute and held, 
For all his strenth he couth mak na remeid, 
Welterand about with hiddeous rummissing", 

Ouhyles to, quhyles fra, gif he mycht succour get ; 
Bot all in vane, it vailyeit him na thing. 
The mair he flang^, the safter wes the net; 
The raipis rude wes sa about him plet *, 
On everilk syde, that succour saw he none, 
Bot still lyand, and mumand maid his mone. 
' O lamit Lyoun ! liggand ■' heir sa law, 
Quhair is the mycht of magnificence ? 
Of quhome all brutall beistes in eird stude aw, 
And dreid to luke upon thy excellence ! 
But*^ hoip or help, but succour or defence, 
In bandis Strang heir mon I ly, allace ! 
Till I be slane — I see nane uther grace. 
'Thair is na wy^ that will my harmis wreck", 

Nor creature do confort to my croun ; 
Quha sail me bute " ? quha sail my bandis brek ? 
Ouha sail me put fra pane of this presoun ?' — 
Be he had mide this lamentatioun, 
Throw aventure^" the lytill Mous come neir, 
And of the Lyoun hard the pietuous beir ". 
And suddandlie it come in till hir mynd 

That it suld be the Lyoun did hir grace, 
And said, ' Now ever I fals, and richt unkynd. 
But gif I quit sum part of thy gentrace '^'^ 
Thow did to me :' and on this way scho gais 
To hir fellowis, and on thame fast can cry, 
'Cum help, cum help;' and they come all in hy'\ 
'Lo!' quod the Mous, 'this is the samin Lyoun 

That grantit grace to me quhcn I wes tane ; 
And now is fast heir bundin in presoun, 

Brekand his heart, with sair murning and mane ; 
Bot we him help of succour wait '* he nane ; 

' entangled. ^ roaring. 3 struggled. * woven. 

» lying. 6 Without. ^ No man. « avenge. » help. 

'» By chance. " Noise. »^ kindness. " i^ ii^g^g ,, i^^^^^.^^ 

VOL. I. L 



146 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Cum help to quyte ane gude turne for ane uther ; 

Go, louse him sone ;' — and they said, 'Yea, gude brother.' 

They tuke na knyfe, their teith vves scharp aneuch : 
To se that sicht, forsuith it wes greit wonder, 

How that thay ran amang the raipis teuch 
Befoir, behind, sum yeild ' about, sum under, 
And schuir^ the raipis of the nett in schunder ; 

Syne bad him ryse, and he start up anone. 

And thankit thame, syne on his way is gone. 

^ went. ^ cut. 



WILLIAM DUNBAR. 

[Bom 145-, died 1513 (?).] 

M. Taine, in his History of English Literahire, leaps from 
Chaucer to Surrey with the remark, ' Must we quote all these 
good people who speak without having anything to say ? . . dozens 
of translators, importing the poverties of French poetry, rhyming 
chroniclers, most commonplace of men.' Of this period he men- 
tions only and merely names Gower and Lydgate and Skelton. 
The more genuine successors of Chaucer were the Scotch poets, 
who, almost alone in our island, lit up the dusk of the 15th century 
with some flashes of native power. Neither James I nor Henryson 
was commonplace, and Dunbar, the most conspicuous of the 
group, displays in his best work a distinct original genius. 

Wilham Dunbar was born, probably in East Lothian, between 
1450 and 1460. He entered the University of St. Andrews in 
1475, and took his full degree in 1479. In early life, according to 
his own account, he went about from Berwick to Dover, and 
passed over to Calais and Picardy, preaching and alms-gathering 
as a Franciscan noviciate ; but he became dissatisfied with this 
life and does not seem to have taken the vows of the order. It 
has been inferred from allusions in his verse that he was for some 
years employed in connection with foreign embassies. Toward 
the close of the century we find him in attendance on the Scotch 
Court, a poet with an established reputation, and a continual 
suitor for place. In 1500 he received from the king (James IV) 
a pension of ^10, raised by degrees, during the next ten years to 
£Zo — then a respectable annuity: but he never obtained the 
Church promotion, to which on somewhat irrelevant grounds he 
constantly laid claim. 

Dunbar revisited England in 1501, when the king's marriage 
with the Princess Margaret was being negotiated. The Thistle 
and the Rose in commemoration of that event was composed on 
the 9th of May, 1503. The Golden Targe and the Lament /or the 

L 2 



148 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Makars were issued from Chepman's — the first Scotch — press in 
1508. The poet must have accompanied the Queen, in whose 
favour he stood fast, to the north in 1 5 1 1 ; for he celebrates her 
reception at Aberdeen. There is a record of an instalment of his 
pension being paid in August, 1513 : the rest is a blank, and it has 
been plausibly conjectured that he may, a month later, have fallen 
at Flodden with the King. If he li\'ed to write the Orison on the 
passing of Albany to France (doubtfully attributed to him) the 
absence of any other reference to the great national disaster is 
remarkable. We are, however, only certain from an allusion in 
Lyndesay's Papy7igo that he must have been dead in 1530. 

The writings of Dunbar — on the whole the most considerable 
poet of our island in the interval between Chaucer and Spenser — 
are mainly Allegorical, Satirical, and Occasional. Allegory, a 
disease of the middle ages infecting most poets down to the end 
of the 1 6th century, was rife in our old Scotch verse, much of 
which is cast on the model of The Rotnaunt of the Rose and The 
Flower and the Leaf. In The Goldeji Targe the influence of those 
works is conspicuous, though much of the imitation is indirect, 
through The King's Qiiair. Like the royal minstrel, the poet 
represents himself as being roused from his slumbers by the morn- 
ing, and led to the bank of a stream where presently a ship lands a 
hundred ladies (v. the ' world of ladies ' in The Floiver and the Leaf) 
in green kirtles : among them are Nature, Dame Venus, the fresh 
Aurora, Latona, Proserpine, &c. Then Cupid appears, leading a 
troop of gods to dance with the goddesses. Love detecting the 
poet orders his arrest. Reason defends him with the Golden 
Targe, till Presence comes and throws dust into the eyes of 
Reason and leaves Venus victrix. The plot is no more barren than 
those of Chaucer's own contributions to the literature of the Courts 
of Love : but the Targe is farther beset by an unusual number of 
the ' aureate ' terms or affected Latinisms with which the Scotch 
poets of the century disfigured their language, planting them, as 
Campbell says, like children's flowers in a mock garden. The 
merit of the piece almost wholly consists in its riches of de- 
scription; but this is enough to preserve it: the ship 'like a 
blossom on the spray,' the skies that ' rang with shouting of the 
larks,' recall Chaucer's Orient and anticipate Burns. The Thistle 
and the Rose has the same pictorial charm, with the added merit 
of being inspired l)y a genuine national enthusiasm. It is perhaps 
the happiest political allegory in our tongue. Heraldry has never 



DUNBAR. 149 

been more skilfully handled, nor compliments more gracefully 
paid, nor fidelity more persuasively preached to a monarch than 
in this poem, which has under its southern dress a strong northern 
body. This remark applies to the author's work in general, and 
more especially to those compositions in which he mingles allegory 
with satire. His masterpiece. The Dance of the Deadly Sins, may 
have been suggested by passages in Piers Ploivjnan, as it in turn 
transmitted its influence through Sackville to The Faery Queen : 
but the horrid crew of vices, summoned from their dens by lines 
each vigorous as the crack of a whip, are real, and Scotch, and 
contemporary, drawn from a knowledge of the world, not from 
books : these supplied Dunbar with his terminology, that with his 
thought. His most elaborate composition, and that which ranks 
next in originality to The Dance, The Two Married Women and 
the Widow, has a tincture of Boccaccio and The Wife of Bath, but 
the scene is again a northern summer eve, and the gossips are con- 
temporaries of Queen Margaret. The poet's satire, which is here 
subtle, is often furious. Half his minor poems are vollies of abuse, 
unprecedented in English literature, unless by some of the almost 
contemporaneous outbursts of Skelton, mainly directed against 
those who had, by fair means or foul, been promoted over him ; 
the other half are religious and moral reveries, those of a good 
Catholic who lived when the first mutters of the Reformation 
were in the air, and are the finest devotional fragments of their 
age. 

The special characteristics of Dunbar's genius are v^ariety and 
force. His volume is a medley in which tenderness and vindic- 
tiveness; blistering satire and exuberant fancy meet. His writings 
are only in a minor degree bound up with the politics of his age, 
and though they reflect its fashions, they for the most part appeal 
to wider human sympathies. He has not wearied us with any 
very long poem. His inspiration and his personal animus find 
vent within moderate bounds, but they are constantly springing 
up at different points and assuming various attitudes. At one 
time he is a quiet moralist praising the golden mean, at another 
he is as fierce as Juvenal. Devoid of the subtlety and the dra- 
matic power of Chaucer, his attacks, often coarse, are always 
direct and sincere. His drawing, like that of the Ballads, is in 
the fore-ground : there is no chiaroscuro in his pages, no more 
than in those of his countrymen from Barbour to Burns. The 
story of the battle between The Tailor and Souter might have been 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



written by Rabelais : Tlie Devil's Inquest is the original of The 
Devil's Drive: the meditation on A Winter's Walk is not un- 
worthy of Cowper, nor the best stanzas in The Merle and the 
Nightijigale of Wordsworth. 

Like Erasmus, Dunbar railed against the friars and their indul- 
gences ' quorum pars fuit : ' but there is no reason to suspect that 
he was more or less than a large-hearted Roman Catholic in his 
creed. He had none of the protagonist spirit which is required to 
assail the traditions of a thousand years. Of a generally buoyant 
temper he appears, like most satirists, to have taken at times a 
view of the world, in which the Epicurean gloom dominates the 
Epicurean gaiety. 'AH earthly joy returns in pain' is the refrain 
of one of his poems ; ' Timor mortis conturbat me ' of another. 
The shadow of the ' atra dies ' falls aslant his most luxuriant 
moods. In the sonnet beginning : — 

' What is this life but ane straucht way to deid, 
Whilk has a time to pass and nane to dwell ' ; 

there is something of the satiety of a disappointed worldling ; but 
in others — 

' Be merry, man, and tak not sare in mind 
The wavering of this wretched warld of sorrow,' — 

we have the manlier temper : on the one side Vanitas vanitatiem, 
et omnia vanitas^ on the other the Philosophie Douce. 

J. NiCHOL. 

Note. In the following extracts, the text of Mr. David Laing, Ed. 1834, 
has been generally adhered to. Where there are difTereut readings, that has 
been adopted which gives the best metre. 



DUNBAR. 



From 'The Thrissill and the Rois.' 

Quhen Merche wes with variand windis past 
And Appryle had, \\-ith her silver schouris, 

Tane leif at Nature with ane orient blast, 
And lusty May, that muddir is of flouris, 
Had maid the birdis to begyn thair houris^ 

Amang the tendir odouris reid and quhj-t, 

Ouhois armony to heir it wes delyt : 

In bed at morrow, sleiping as I lay, 
Me thocht Aurora, with hir cristall ene 

In at the window lukit by the day, 
And halsit me, with visage paill and grene ; 
On quhois hand a lark sang fro the splene ^ 

Awalk, luvaris, out of your slomering 

Se hou the lusty morrow dois up spring. 

Me thocht fresche May befoir my bed up stude. 
In weid depaynt of mony diverss hew, 

Sobir, ben>Tig, and full of mansuetude 
In br)-cht atteir of flouris forgit new 
Hevinly of color, quh^t, reid, broun and blew, 

Balmit in dew, and gilt with Phebus bemys ; 

Quhyll all the house illumynit of her lemys K 

Slugird, scho said, awalk annone for schame. 

And in my honour sum thing thou go wr)'t ; 
The lark has done the mirry day proclame. 

To raise up luvaris with confort and delyt ; 

Yit nocht incressis thy curage to indyt, 
Quhois hairt sum tyme hes glaid and blisfull bene, 
Sangis to mak undir the levis grene. 

****** 

» morning orisons. * from the heart. = rays. 



152 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Than callit scho all flouris that grew on feild 
Discirnyng all thair fassionis and ^ffeiris 

Upone the awfull Thrissil scho beheld 
And saw him kepit with a busche of speiris ; 
Considering him so able for the weiris 

A radius croun of rubeis scho him gaif, 

And said, In feild go furth and fend the laif^ : 

And sen thou art a King, thou be discreit ; 

Herb without vertew thow hald nocht of sic prycc 

As herb of vertew and of odour sueit ; 
And lat no nettill vyle, and full of vyce, 
Hir fallow^ to the gudly flour-de-lyce ; 

Nor latt no wyld weid, full of churlicheness, 

Compair hir till the lilleis nobilness. 

Nor hald non udir flour in sic denty' 

As the fresche Rois, of cullour reid and quhyt : 

For gife thow dois, hurt is thyne honesty ; 
Considring that no flour is so perfyt, 
So full of vertew, plesans, and delyt, 

So full of blisful angeilik bewty, 

Imperiall birth, honour and dignitd 

From ' The Goldyn Targe.' 

Bryght as the stern of day begouth to schyne 
Quhen gone to bed war Vesper and Lucyne, 

I raise, and by a rosere * did me rest : 
Up sprang the goldyn candill matutyne, 
With clere depurit hemes cristallync 

Glading the mery foulis in thair nest ; 

Or Phebus was in purpur cape revest 
Up raise the lark, the hevyn's menstrale fyne 
In May, in till a morow myrthfullest. 

Full angellike thir birdis sang thair houris 
Within thair courtyns grene, in to thair bouris, 
Apparalit quhite and red, wyth blomes sucte ; 

lest. ^ match herself. ^ favour. * robe bush. 



DUNBAR. 153 

Anamalit was the felde with all colouris, 

The perly droppis schuke in silvir schouris ; 

Ouhill all in balme did branch and levis flete^, 
To part fra Phebus did Aurora grete ^ ; 

Hir cristall teris I saw hyng on the flouris 

Ouhilk he for lufe all drank up with his hete. 

For mirth of May, wyth skippis and wyth hoppis, 
The birdis sang upon the tender croppis, 

With curiouse notis, as Venus chapell clerkis ; 
The rosis yong, new spreding of their knoppis ^ 
War powderit brjxht with hevinly beriall droppis 

Throu hemes rede, birnyng as ruby sperkis ; 

The skyes rang for schoutyng of the larkis. 

The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Syxnis. 

Off Februar the fyiftene nycht, 
Full lang befoir the dayis lycht, 

I lay in till a trance ; 
And than I saw baith Hevin and Hell : 
Me thocht, amangis the feyndis fell, 

Mahoun gart cry ane Dance 
Off Schrewis* that were nevir schrevin, 
Aganis the feist of Fasternis evin^ 

To mak thair observance ; 
He bad gallandis ga graith a gyiss ® 
And kast up gamountis" in the Skyiss 

As varlotis dois in France. 
****** 
Heilie Harlottis on hawtane wyiss 
Come in with mony sindrie gyiss, 

Bot yit luche* nevir Mahoun, 
Ouhill " prcistis come in with hair schevin nekkis, 
Than all the Feyndis Icwche, and made gekkis "*, 

Blak-belly and Bawsy-Broun. 
****** 

* gloat. ' weep. ' buds. ^ Outcasts. ' Easterns Evening, 

the eve of Lent. * prepare a guise or mask. ' gambols. 

» laughed. » till. '» mocks. 



1.54 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Lat s^, quoth he, now quha begynnis, 
With that the fowll Sevin Deidly synnis 

Begowth to leip at anis. 
And first of all in Dance was Pryd, 
With hair wyld bak, and bonet on syd, 

Lyk to mak vaistie ^ wanis ^ ; 
And round abowt him, as a quheill, 
Hang all in rumpillis to the heill 

His kethat ^ for the nanis : 
Mony prowd trumpour with him trippit 
Throw skaldand * fyre, ay as thay skippit 

Thay gyrnd with hyddous granis. 
Than Yre come in with sturt and stryfe ; 
His hand wes ay upoun his knyfe, 

He brandeist lyk a beir^ : 
Bostaris, braggaris, and barganeris, 
Eftir him passit in to pairis, 

All bodin '^ in feir of weir 
In jakkis, and scryppis and bonettis of steill 
Thair leggis wer chenyeit to the heill, 

Frawart was their affair : 
Sum upoun uder with brandis beft''. 
Sum jagit uthers to the heft 

With knyvis that scherp cowd scheir. 

Nixt in the Dance followite Invy, 
Fild full of feid** and fellony. 

Hid malyce and dispyte. 
For pryvie hatrent that tratour trymlit ; 
Him folio wit mony frcik '' dissymlit 

With fcnyeit wordis quhyte : 
And flattereris in to menis facis ; 
And bak-byttaris in sccreit placis, 

To ley that had delyte ; 
And rownaris'" of false lesingis, 
Allace ! that courtis of noble kingis 

Of tliame can ncvir be quyte. 
' waste. " abodes. ' robe. * northern participial form. 

' oliserve that ei represents several southern vowel sounds. '' arrayed. 

^ struck. » feud. ' petulant fellow. ^^ whisperers. 



DUNBAR. ^ao 

Nixt him in Dans come Cuvatyce 
Rute of all evill, and grund of vycc, 

That nevir cowd be content : 
Catyvis, wrechis, and ockeraris\ 
Hud-pykis^ hurdaris^-and gadderaris *, 

All with that warlo went : 
Out of thair throttis thay schot on udder 
Rett moltin gold, me thocht, a fudder^ 

As fyre-fiawcht ^ maist fervent ; 
Ay as thay tumit'^ them of schot, 
Feyndis fild thame new up to the thrott 

With gold of allkin - prent. 

Syne Sweirnes^ at the secound bidding, 
Come lyk a sow out of a midding. 

Full slepy wes his grunyie^^ 
Mony sweir bumbard belly huddroun^', 
Mony slute daw^-, and slepy duddroun '', 

Him servit ay with sounyie". 
He drew thame forth in till a cheny.e 
And Belliall with a brydill renyie 

Evir lascht thame on the lunyie ^^ : 
In Dans thay war so slaw of feit, 
Thay gaif thame in the fyre a heit. 

And made them quicker of counyie'l 

Than Lichery, that lathly corse, 
Came berand^' lyk a bagit horse, 

And Ydilness did him leid ; 
Thair wes with him ane ugly sort. 
And mony stynkand fowl! tramort^** 

That had in syn bene deid : 
Quhen they were enterit in the Dance, 
Thay wer full strenge of countenance, 
Lyke tortchis byrnand reid, 

***** 

» usurers ' misers. ' hoarders. ♦ gatherers. ' load, 

properly of i 28 lbs. weight. « wild-fire. ^ emptied. « of all kiads. 

« sloth. '" g'unt. " tun-bellied sloven. '' slothful wench. 

" slut. " care. *^ loins. '"^ apprehension. " snorting. " corpse. 



156 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Than the fowl! monstir Gluttony 
Of wame unsasiable and gredy, 

To Dance he did him dress : 
Him followit mony fowl! drunckart, 
With can and collep \ cop and quart, 

In surffet and excess ; 
Full mony a waistless wally-drag ^, 
With wamis unweildable, did furth wag, 

In creische ^ that did incress 
Drynk ! ay thay cryit with many a gaip, 
The Feyndis gaif thame hait leid to laip 

Thair leveray ^ wes na less. 



Na menstrallis playit to thame but dowt, 
For gle-men thair wer haldin owt, 

Be day, and eik by nycht : 
Except a menstrall that slew a man, 
Swa till his heretage he wan. 

And enterit by breif of richt. 

Than cryd Mahoun for a Heleand Padyane ^ : 
Syne ran a Feynd to feche Makfadj'ane, 

Far northwart in a nuke ; 
Be he the Correnoch had done schout, 
Ersche men so gadderit him abowt, 

In Hell grit rowme thay tuke ; 
Thae tarmegantis, with tag and tatter, 
Full lowd in Ersche begowth to clatter 

And rowp ^ lyk revin and ruke. 
The Devill sa devt wes with thair yell, 
That in the depest pot of hell, 

He 5morit " thame with smukc. 

(Irinkiiif^ cups. ^ outcast. ^ yicnse. * reward. 

^ Highland pageant. ' cioak. ' smothc;ed. 



DUNBAR. 157 



From 'The Lament for the Makaris Ouhen 
he was seik.' 

I that in heill^ wes and glaidness, 
Am trublit now with gret seikness, 
And feblit with infirmitie ; 

Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

Our plesance heir is all vane glory 
This fals Warld is bot transitory 
The flesche is brukle ^, the Feynd is sle ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

The stait of Man dois change and vary 
Now sound, now seik, now blyth, now sary, 
Now dansand mirry, now like to die ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

No Stait in Erd heir standis sicker, 
As with the wynd wavis the wickir% 
So wavis this warldis vanite ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

Unto the Deid gois all Estaitis 
Princis, Prellattis, and Potestaitis, 
Baith riche and puire of all degre ; 
Timor mortis conturbat me. 

He takis the knychtis in to feild, 
Anarmit under helme and scheild, 
Victour he is at all mellie ; 

Timor Mortis conturbat me. 



I see that Makaris amang the laif* 
Playis heir thair padyanis, syne gois to graif; 
Spairit is nocht thair faculty ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

' health. ^ brittle. ^ osier. * poets among the rest. 



158 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

He hes done peteouslie devour 
The noble Chawcer of makaris flouir 
The Monk of Bery, and Govver, all thre ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 
****** 

He hes Blind Hary, and Sandy Traill 
Slaine with his schot of mortall haill 
Quhilk Patrick Johnestoun mycht nocht fid 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

He hes reft Merseir his endyte, 
That did in luve so lifly write, 
So schort, so quyk, of sentence hie ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

He hes tane Roull of Abirdene, 
And gentil Roull of Corstorphine ; 
Two bettir fallowis did no man sd ; 

Timor Mortis conturbat me. 
In Dumfermelyne he hes tane Brown 
With Maister Robert Henrisoun 
Schir Johne the Ross embraist hes hd ; 

Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

And he hes now tane, last of aw, 
Gud gentill Stobo and Ouintyne Schaw 
Of quhome all wichtis hes petie ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

Gud Maister Walter Kennedy, 
In poynt of dede lyis veraly, 
Gret reuth it were that so suld be ; 
Timon Mortis conturbat me. 

Sen he has all my Brether tane, 
He will nocht lat me leif alane, 
On forse I mon his nyxt pray be ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 

Sen for the Deid remeid is non, 
Best is that we for deid dispone, 
Kftir our deid that Icif may we ; 
Timor Mortis conturbat me. 



GAWAIN DOUGLAS. 



[Gawain Douglas (born 1474-75) was a younger son of the famous Earl 
of Angus, called ' Bell the Cat.' Though e;ven elementary education was 
rare in his noble family, 

(' Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine. 
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line,') 

Gawain devoted himself to study, matriculated at the University of St. 
Andrews in 1489, and took his degree in 1494. He published his Police of 
Honour in 1501, and finished his translation of the Aeneid in 151.^ He 
seems now to have abandoned poetry, and after many stormy intrigues, 
was consecrated Bishop of Dunkeld in 1515. He was carried do\\Ti the 
'druinly' stream of Scotch politics, and died in exile in London in 1522. 
The date of his unpublished poem King Hart is uncertain ; it was probably 
composed between 1501 and 1512. An admirable edition of Douglas' works 
has lately been made, in four volumes, by Mr. John Small of Edinburgh.] 

Gawain Douglas attempted the poet's art amidst the clash of 
arms ; he was learned in an age and among a people that de- 
spised literature. The revival of letters, when it reached Scotland, 
was crushed out by the nobles, who hated dominies and Italians. 
Classical Hterature and Erasmus had a pupil in the young Arch- 
bishop of St. Andrews, a Stuart who fell under the English arrows, 
when 'groom fought like noble, squire like knight' around the king 
at Flodden. Gawain Douglas, noble by birth and ambitious of 
nature, ceased to court poetry, after poetry had done her best for 
him, — had helped the recommendations of the English Court to 
win him a bishopric from Leo X. The lilies and laurels of Italy, 
the sweet Virgilian measures, were soon bhghted and silenced 
by the wind and hail of Scotland, by clerical austerity, and the 
storms of war that in those days beat round even episcopal 
palaces. Among all the poets beheld by Douglas in vision (in 
the Palice of Honour), but two or three were countrymen of his 
own. 



i6o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The chief original poem of Douglas, The Palice of Honour, 
is an allegory of the sort which had long been in fashion. Moral 
ideas in allegorical disguises, descriptions of spring, and scraps 
of mediaeval learning were the staple of such compositions. Like 
the other poets, French and English, of the last two centuries, 
Douglas woke on a morning of May, wandered in a garden, and 
beheld various masques or revels of the goddesses, heroes, poets, 
virtues, vices (such as ' Busteousness '), and classical and Biblical 
worthies. In his vision he characteristically confused all that 
he happened to know of the past, made Sinon and Achitophel 
comrades in guilt and misfortune, while Penthesilea and Jeptha's 
daughter ranged together in Diana's company, and ' irrepreuabill 
Susane ' rode about in the troop of ' Cleopatra and worthie Mark 
Anthone.' The diverting and pathetic combinations of this sort 
still render Douglas's poems rich in surprises, and he occasionally 
does poetical justice on the wicked men of antiquity, as when 
he makes Cicero knock down Catiline with a folio. To modern 
readers his allegory seems to possess but few original qualities. 
His poem, indeed, is rich with descriptions of flowers and stately 
palaces, his style, like Venus's throne, is 'with stones rich over 
fret and cloth of gold,' his pictures have the quaint gorgeousness 
and untarnished hues that we admire in the paintings of Crivelli. 
But these qualities he shares with so many other poets of the 
century which preceded his own, that we find him most original 
when he is describing some scene he knew too well, some hour 
of storm and surly weather, the bleakness of a Scotch winter, or 
a ' desert terribill,' like that through which ' Childe Roland to the 
dark tower came.' (See extracts i and 2.) 

A poem of Douglas's which was not printed during his lifetime, 
King Hart, is also allegorical. King Hart, or the heart of man, 
dwells in a kind of city of Mansoul ; he is attended by five 
servants — the five senses, — besieged and defeated by Dame Plea- 
sance, visited by Age, deserted by Youthhead, Disport, and Fresh 
Delight. There is nothing particularly original in an allegory of 
which the form was common before, and not unfrequently employed 
after the age of Douglas. (Compare 'the Bewitching Mistress 
Heart ' in The Legal Proceedings against Sin in Man-shire, 1640.) 

The little piece of verse called Conscience is not bad in its 
quibbling way. When the Church was young and flourishing, 
Conscience ruled her. Men wearied of Conscience, and cut off the 
Con, leaving Science. Then came an age of ecclesiastical learning, 



DOUGLAS. l6l 

which lasted till the world ' thought that Science was too long a 
jape,' and got rid of Sci. Nothing was left now but etis, worldly 
substance, ' riches and gear that gart all grace go hence.' The 
Church in Scotland did not retain even ens long after the age of 
Douglas. Grace, on the other hand, waxed abundant. 

The work by which Douglas lives, and deserves to live, is his 
translation of the Aeneid. It is a singular fruit of a barren and 
unlearned time, and, as a romantic rendering of the Aeneid, may 
still be read with pleasure. The two poets whom Douglas most 
admired of all the motley crowd who pass through The Palice of 
Honour were Virgil and Chaucer. Each of these masters he calls 
an a per se. He imitated the latter in the manner of his allegorical 
verse, and he translated the former with complete success. We 
must not ask the impossible from Douglas, — we must not expect 
exquisite philological accuracy; but he had the 'root of the 
matter,' an intense delight in Virgil's music and in Virgil's nar- 
rative, a perfect sympathy with * swt at Dido,' and that keen sense 
of the human life of Greek, Trojan, and Latin, which enabled 
him in turn to make them live in Scottish rhyme. If he talks 
of ' the nuns of Bacchus,' and if his Sibyl admonishes Aeneas to 
' tell his beads,' Douglas is merely using what he thinks the 
legitimate freedom of the translator. He justifies his method, 
too, by quotations from Horace and St. Gregory. He is giving 
a modern face to the ancient manners, a face which his readers 
would recognise. In his prologues, his sympathy carries him be- 
yond orthodox limits, and he defends the behaviour of Aeneas 
to Dido against the attacks of Chaucer. He is so earnest a 
' humanist ' that he places himself in the mental attitude of Virgil, 
and avers that Aeneas only deserted Dido at the bidding of the 
gods : — 

' Certes, Virgill schawls Enee did na thing, 
Frome Dido of Cartaige at his departing, 
Bot quhilk the goddes commandit him to foine : 
And gif that thair command maid him mansworne, 
That war repreif to thair divinitee 
And na repioche unto the said Enee.' 

But though Douglas is a humanist in verse, all the Bishop 
asserts himself in prose. In his prose note he observes that 
' Enee falit then gretly to the sueit Dido, quhilk fait reprefit 
nocht the goddessis divinite, for they had na divinite, as said 
VOL. I. M 



1 62 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

is before.' Though he adores the Olympians in verse, Douglas 
adopts the Euhemeristic theory in prose : ' Juno was hot ane 
woman, dochter to Saturn, sistir and spows to Jupiter king of 
Crete.' In spite of these edifying notes, Douglas's conscience 
pricked him, 'for he to Gentiles' bukis gaif sik keip.' Even if 
he knew Greek, he probably would not have translated Homer, 
as a friend asked him to do. The prologue to the Thirteenth 
Book of the Aeneid (i.e. of the book 'ekit' to Virgil by Mapheus 
Vegius,) proves that there were moments when he thought even 
Virgil a perilous and' unprofitable heathen. 

The language of Douglas, as he observes (Prologue to the First 
Book), is ' braid and plane,' that is to say, it is good broad Scotch, 
and still ' plain ' enough to a Scotch reader. He does not, how- 
ever, ' clere all sudroun refuse,' when no Scotch word served 
his turn, and he frankly admits that 

' the ryme 
Causis me to mak digressioun sum tyme.' 

Douglas's rank is that of an accomplished versifier, who deserted 
poetry with no great regret for the dangerous game of politics. 

A. Lang. 



DOUGLAS. 163 



A Desert Terrible. 

[From The Police of Honour. "] 

My rauist spreit^ in that desert terribill, 
Approchit neir that vglie flude horribill, 
Like till ^ Cochyte the riuer infernall, 
With vile water quhilk maid a hiddious trubil, 
Rinnand ouirheid, blude reid, and impossibill 
That it had been a riuer naturall ; 
With brayis^ bair, raif* rochis like to fall, 
Quhairon na gers^ nor herbis were visibill, 
Bot swappis ^ brint with blastis boriall. 

This laithlie flude rumland as thonder routit, 
In quhome the fisch 5elland" as eluis schoutit, 
Thair Jelpis wilde my heiring all fordeifit, 
Thay grym monstures my spreits abhorrit and doutit. 
Not throw the soyl bot muskane * treis sproutit, 
Combust, barrant, vnblomit and vnleifit, 
Auld rottin runtis quhairin na sap was leifit, 
Moch, all waist, widderit with granis moutit, 
A ganand^ den, quhair murtherars men reifit^". 

Ouhairfoir my seluin was richt sair agast, 
This wildernes abhominabill and waist, 
(In quhome nathing was nature comfortand) 
Was dark as rock, the quhilk the sey vpcast. 
The quhissilling wind blew mony bitter blast, 
Runtis rattillit and vneith'^ micht I stand. 
Out throw the wod I crap on fute and hand, 
The riuer stank, the treis clatterit fast. 
The soyl was nocht bot marres ", slike ", and sand. 

' mvished spirit. " to. ' braes, slopes. * riven. 

* grass. * sedges ' screaming. * rotten. ' proper. 

'" rob. " scarcely. '* marsh. *■■ slime. 

M 2 



1 64 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A Scottish Winter Landscape. 

[From the Prologue to the Aeneid, Bk. vii.] 

The frosty regioun ringis of the 3eir, 

The tyme and sessoune bitter cald and paill, 

Thai schort days that clerkis clepe brumaill ; 

Quhen brym^ blastis of the northyne art^ 

Ourquhelmit had Neptunus in his cart, 

And all to schaik the levis of the treis, 

The rageand storm ourvvalterand wally seis ^ ; 

Reveris ran reid on spait with watteir broune, 

And burnis hurlis all thair bankis downe, 

And landbrist rumland * rudely wyth sic beir^, 

So loud ne rummist wyld lioun or beir. 

Fludis monstreis, sic as meirswyne or quhailis ®, 

For the tempest law '' in the deip devallyis ^ 

Mars Occident, retrograide in his speir, 

Provocand stryff, regnit as lord that 5eir ; 

Rany Orioune wyth his stormy face 

Bewalit of the schipman by his rays ; 

Frawart Saturne, chill of complexioune, 

Throw quhais aspect derth and infectioune 

Bene causit oft, and mortale pestilens, 

Went progressiue the greis ^ of his ascens ; 

And lusty Hebe, Junois douchtir gay, 

Stud spul3eit ^" of hir office and array. 

The soill ysowpit into wattir wak^^. 

The firmament ourkest with rokis blak. 

The ground fadyt, and fauch wolx^'^ all the feildis, 

Montayne toppis sleikit wyth snaw ourheildis. 

On raggit reikis of hard harsk quhyne stane^'. 

With frosyne frontis cauld clynty clewis ^* schane ; 

Bewtic wes lost, and barrand schew the landis, 

With froslis hairc "* ourfret the feildis standis. 

' violent. '^ (|iiarter of the heaven. ' ovcrwhchning the wavy seas. 

' the (looti roarinp. ^ cry, noise. " porpoises or whales. ' low. 

" descends. " degrees. '" sjioiled. " wet. "* became 

reddish. " rough whin-stones. " stony clilTs. ''•' hoar. 



DOUGLAS. 165 

Soure bittir bubbis^, and the schowris snell 

Semyt on the sward ane simihtude of hell, 

Reducyng to our mynd, in every steid, 

Goustly schaddois of eild and grisly deid, 

Thik drumly scuggis^ dirknit so the hevyne. 

Dym skyis oft furth warpit feirfull levyne', 

Flaggis of fyir, and mony felloun flawe, 

Scharp soppis of sleit, and of the snypand * snawe. 

The dowy^ dichis war all donk and wait, 

The law vaille flodderit all wyth spait, 

The plane stretis and every hie way 

Full of fluschis, doubbis ", myre and clay. 

***** ^* * 

Our craggis, and the front of rochis seyre, 

Hang gret isch schoklis lang as ony spere ; 

The grund stude barrand, widderit, dosk and gray, 

Herbis, flouris, and gersis wallowit away ; 

Woddis, forestis, wyth nakyt bewis blout'', 

Stud strypyt of thair weyd in every hout *. 

So bustuysly Boreas his bugill blew, 

The deyr full dern ^ dovne in the dalis drew ; 

Smal byrdis, flokand throw thik ronnis ^** thrang, 

In chyrmyng and with cheping changit thair sang, 

Sekand hidlis and hirnys" thaim to hyde 

Era feirfull thudis of the tempestuus tyde. 

The wattir lynnis ^^ routtis, and every lynde 

(2uhyslyt and brayt of the swouchand wynde. 

Puire laboraris and byssy husband men 

Went wayt and wery draglyt in the fen ; 

The silly scheip and thair lytill hyrd gromis 

Lurkis vndir le of bankis, wodys, and bromys ; 

And wthir^^ dantit gretar bestial, 

Within thair stabillis sesyt into stall, 

Sic as mulls, horsis, oxin and ky. 

Fed tuskit baris'*, and fat swyne in sty, 



nipping. 



' blasts. ^ gloomy shadows. = lightning. 

' dreary. * pools. ' naked. « jj^jj^ wood. ' secretly. 

'* branribles. " corners. '^ waterfalls. " other. " boars. 



1 66 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Sustenit war by mannis gouernance 
On hervist and on symmeris purviance. 
Widequhair with fors so Eolus schouttis schyll 
In this congelyt sessioune scharp and chyll, 
The callour air, penetrative and puire, 
Dasyng the bluide in every creature, 
Maid seik* warm stovis, and beyne^ fyris hoyt, 
In double garmont cled and wyly coyt^, 
Wyth mychty drink, and meytis confortive, 
Agayne the storme wyntre for to strive. 



The Fete Champetre. 

[From The Police of Honour.'] 

Our horsis pasturit in ane plesand plane, 
Law at the fute of ane faire grene montane, 
Amid ane meid schaddowit with ceder treis, 
Saif fra all heit, thair micht we weill remane. 
All kinde of herbis, flouris, frute, and grane. 
With euerie growand tre thair men micht cheis, 
The beriall* stremis rinnand ouir stanerie greis^ 
Made sober noyis, the schaw " dinnit agane 
For birdis sang, and sounding of the beis. 

The ladyis fair on diuers instrumentis. 
Went playand, singand, dansand ouir the bentis'', 
Full angellike and heuinlie was thair soun. 
Quhat creature amid his hart imprentis, 
The fresche bewtie, the gudelie representis. 
The merie speiche, fair hauingis'*, hie renoun 
Of thame, wald set a wise man half in swoun, 
Thair womanlines wryithit" the elementis, 
Stoneist "* the heuin, and all the cirth adoun. 

' made men seek. ° genial. ' secret uiulergarmcnt. 

like beryl. " gravelly ledges. " thicket. ' open fields. 

manners. * disturbed. '* astonished. 



DOUGLAS. i6y 

A Ballade in Commendation of Honour. 

[From The Palice of Honour. 1 

O hie honour, sweit heuinlie flour degest^, 
Gem verteous, maist precious, gudliest. 
For hie renoun thow art guerdoun conding^, 
Of worschip kend the glorious end and rest, 
But quhome^ in richt na worthie wicht may lest. 
Thy greit puissance may maist auance all thing, 
And pouerall to mekill auaill sone bring*. 
I the require sen thow but peir'^ art best, 
That efter this in thy hie blis we ring. 

Of grace thy face in euerie place sa schynis, 
That sweit all spreit baith held and feit inclynis, 
Thy gloir afoir" for till imploir remeid. 
He docht ' richt nocht, quhilk out of thocht the tynis ' ; 
Thy name but ^ blame, and royal fame diuine is ; 
Thow port at schort of our comfort and reid, 
TilP'^ bring all thing till glaiding efter deid, 
All wicht but sicht of thy greit micht ay crynis ", 
O schene I mene, nane may sustene thy feid '-. 

Haill rois maist chois till clois thy fois greit micht, 
Haill stone quhilk schone vpon the throne of licht, 
Vertew, quhais trew sweit dew ouirthrew al vice, 
Was ay ilk day gar say the way of licht ; 
Amend, offend, and send our end ay richt. 
Thow stant, ordant as sanct, of grant ''' maist wise, 
Till be supplie, and the hie gre '^ of price. 
Delite the tite^' me quite of site'" to dicht. 
For I apply schortlie to thy deuise. 

' grave. ^ condign. ^ without whom. * bring the poor to 

great prosperity. * without a peer. * before thy glory. ' avails. 

' loses. " without. '" to. " diminishes. '- hatred. 

'■' giving. '* degree. '•'' quickly. '^ shame. 



I 68 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Ghost of Creusa. 

[From The Aeneid.'] 

Hoiv Eneas socht his spoils, all the cost, 
And how to him apperis hir grete gost. 

To Priamus palice eftir socht I than, 

An syne onto the temple fast I ran : 

Ouhar, at the porchis or closter of Juno, 

Than all bot waist, thocht it was girth ^, stude tho 

Phenix and dour Vlixes, wardanes tway, 

For to observe and keip the spreith^ or pray: 

Thiddir in ane help was gaderit precius geir, 

Riches of Troy, and wther jewellis seir 

Reft from all partis ; and, of templis brynt, 

Of massy gold the veschale war furth hynt 

From the goddis, and goldin tabilHs all, 

With precius vestmentis of spuilBe triumphal! : 

The 5ing childring^, and frayit matrounis eik, 

Stude all on raw, with mony peteous screik 

About the tresour quhymperand woundir sair. 

And I also my self so bald wox thair. 

That I durst schaw my voce in the dirk nycht. 

And cleip and cry fast throw the stretis on hycht 

Full dolorouslie, Creusa ! Creusa ! 

Agane, feil sise *, in vane I callit swa ®, 

Throw howsis and the citie quhar I Joid, 

But ^ outhir rest or resoun, as I war woid ^ ; 

Quhill that the figour of Creusa and gost, 

Of far mair statur than air quhcn scho was lost, 

Before me, catife, hir scikand, apperit thair. 

Abaisit I wolx, and widdersyns'* start my hair, 

Speik mycht I nocht, the voce in my hals" sa stak. 

Than sclic, bclifc, on this wise to me spak, 

' though it was a sanctuary. '^ booty. ^ yount,' children. 

* many times. ' so. *■' without. ' mad. " in extraordinary 

fashion. ° neck. 



DOUGLAS. 169 

With sic wourdis my thochtis to assuage : 

O my suete spous, into sa furious raige 

Quhat helpis thus thi selfin to turment ? 

This chance is nocht, but goddis wilHs went ' ; 

Nor it is nocht [a] lefull thing, quod sche, 

Fra hyne Creuse thou turs^ away with the, 

Nor the hie governour of the hevin abufe is 

Will suffir it so to be ; bot the behufis 

From thens to wend full far into exile, 

And our the braid see saile full mony a myle. 

Or thou cum to the land Hesperia, 

Quhar, with soft cours, Tybris of Lidia 

Rynnis throw the riche feildis of peple stout. 

Thair is grete substaunce ordanit the, but dowt, 

Thair sail thou haue ane realme, thair sail thou ryng^, 

And wed to spous the dochtir of a kyng. 

Thy weping and thi teris do away, 

Ouhilk thou makis for thi luifit Crewsay : 

For I, the nece of mychty Dardanus, 

And guide dochtir vnto the blissit Venus, 

Of Mirmidonis the realme sail neuir behald, 

Nor 5it the land of Dolopes so bald. 

Nor go to serve na matroun Gregioun ; 

Bot the grete moder of goddis ilk one 

In thir cuntreis withhaldis me for evir. 

Adew, fair weile, for ay we man dissevir! 

Thou be guide frend, luif wele, and keip fra skaith 

Our a 3ong sone, is comoun till ws baith. 

Quhen this was spokin, away fra me she glaid. 
Left me weping and fell wordis wald haue said : 
For sche sa lichtlie wanyst in the air, 
That with myne armes thrise I pressit thair 
About the hals hir for to haue bilappit. 
And thryse all wais my handis togiddir clappit \ 
The figour fled as lycht wynd, or son beyme, 
Or mast liklie a waverand sweving or dreyme. 



' the way of the gods' will. * draw. 



reign. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Dido's Hunting. 

[From The Aeneid.'] 

Quhou that the Queue to hiinteyii raid at jnoroTV, 
And of the first day of hyr joy and sorow. 

Furth of the see, with this, the dawing ^ springis. 

As Phebus rais, fast to the 5ettis ^ thringis 

The chois galandis, and huntmen thaim besyde, 

With rahs and with nettis Strang and wyde. 

And hunting speris stif with hedis braid ; 

From Massylyne horsmen thik thiddir raid, 

With rynning hundis, a full huge sort. 

Noblis of Cartage, hovand^ at the port, 

The quene awatis that lang in chalmer dwellis : 

Hir fers steid stude stamping, reddy ellis, 

Rungeand the fomy goldin bitt jingling ; 

Of goldin pall wrocht his riche harnissing ; 

And scho, at last, of palice ischit out. 

With huge men5e walking hir about, 

Lappit in ane brusit * mantill of Sydony, 

With gold and perle the bordour all bewry, 

Hingand by hir syde the cais with arrowis ground ; 

Hir brycht tressis envolupit war and wound 

Intill a kuafe of fyne gold wyrin ^' thrcid ; 

The goldin buttoun claspit hir purpour weid. 

And furth scho passit with all hir company : 

The Troiane peple forgadderit, by and by 

Joly and glaid the freschc Ascanius jing. 

Bot first of all, most gudlie, hym self thar king, 

Enee gan entir in falloschip, but dout. 

And vnto thaim adionyt his large rowt. 

Lyk quhen Apollo list depart or ga 

Furth of his wintring realm of Lisia, 

(lawn. '■' gales. ^ wailiiit;. * cnibroklcicd. * made of wire. 



DOUGLAS. 171 

And leif the flude Exanthus for a quhile, 

To vesy^ Delos his moderis land and ile, 

Renewand ringis and dancis, mony a rovvt ; 

Mixt togiddir, his altaris standing abowt, 

The peple of Crete, and thaim of Driopes, 

And eik the payntit folkis Agathirces, 

Schowtand on ther gise with clamour and vocis hie ; 

Apon thi top, mont Cynthus, walkis he, 

His wavand haris, sum tyme, doing down thring'^ 

With a soft garland of lawrere sweit smelling, 

And wmquhile thaim gan balmyng and anoynt, 

And into gold addres, at full gude poynt '^ ; 

His grundin dartis clattering by his syde. 

Als fresch, als lusty did Eneas ryde ; 

With als gret bewtie in his lordlie face. 

Sleep. 

[From The Aeneid.~\ 

Qtthat soroiu dreis^ qiieyne Dido all the nycht, 
And qiihow Mercidr bad Enee tak the jlycht. 

The nycht followis, and euery wery wicht 
Throw out the erd has caucht anone richt 
The sound plesand slepe thame likit best ; 
Woddis and rageand seis war at rest ; 
And the sternis thar myd cours rollis down ; 
All feyldis still, but othir noyis or sown ; 
And bestis and birdis of diuers culloris seir\ 
And quhatsumevir in the braid lochis weir, 
Or amang buskis harsk leyndis " ondir the spray. 
Throw nichtis silence slepit quhar thai lay, 
Mesing" ther besy thocht and curis smart. 
All irksum laubour for3et and out of hart. 
Bot the onrestles fey* spreit did nocht so 
Of this wnhappy Phenician Dido : 

' to visit. ' making his hair hang thickly clown. ' in j^ood order 

* suffers. '" several. ° dwells among rough bushts. '^ diminishing,' 

» fated. 



172 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

For neuir mair may scho sleip a wynk, 
Nor nychtis rest in ene nor breist lat synk : 
The hevy thochtis multiplyis euir onane ' ; 
Strang luif begynis to rage and ryse agane, 
And felloun stormis of ire gan hir'to schaik 
Thus fynaly scho out bradis ^, alaik ! 
Rollinfr allane sere thingis in hir thocht. 



Spring. 

[From the Prologue to the Aeneid, Bk. v.] 

Glad is the ground of the tender florist grene, 

Birdis the bewis and thir schawis ^ schene, 

The wery hunter to fynd his happy pray, 

The falconer the riche riveir our to flene, 

The clerk reiosis his buikis our to seyne, 

The luiffar to behald his lady gay, 

5oung folk thaim schurtis* with gam, solace, and play; . 

Ouhat maist delytis or likis every wycht, 

Therto steris thar curage day or nycht. 

Knychtis delytis to assay sterand^ stedis, 
Wantoun gallandis to traill in sumptuus wedis ; 
Ladeis desyris to behald and be sene ; 
Quha wald be thrifty courteouris sais few credis ; 
Sum plesance takis in romanis that he redis, 
And sum has lust to that was never sene : 
How mony hedis als feil consatis ® bene ; 
Tua appetitis vneith accordis with vther ; 
This likis the, perchance, and nocht thi brodir. 

Plesance and joy rycht halesum and perfyte is, 
So that the wys therof in prouerb writis, 
Ane biyth spreit makis greyn and flurist age. 
Myn author eik in Bucolikis '^ enditis. 
The joung infant first with lauchter delytis 

* one another. '■' starts. ^ thickets. * amuse. * restive. 

• so many fancies. ' See Virfjil, Eel. 4. 



DOUGLAS. 17.1 

To knaw his modir, quhen he is Htil page ; 
Ouha lauchis nocht, quod he, in his barnage, 
Genyus, the God, dehtith nocht their table, 
Nor Juno thaim to keip in bed is able. 



The Tribes of the Dead. 

[From The Aeneid.] 

During this tyme Eneas gan aduert, 
Within a vaill fer thens closit apert, 
Ouhair stude a wod with sowchand^ bewis schcne. 
The flude Lethe flowand throw the fair grene ; 
About the quhilk peple vnnomerable. 
And silly saulis, fleis fast, but fabill, 
Ouhill all the feildis of thar dyn resoundis : 
Lyke as in medowis and fresche fluris boundis, 
The byssy beis in schene symmeris tyde. 
On diuers colorit flouris scalit wyde, 
Flokkis about the blomyt lillyis quhyte, 
And vthir fragrant blosumys redemytel 



The Destiny of Rome. 

[From The Aeneid.'] 

Anchises gyffis Eneas gud teiching, 
To gyde the peple ondir his goxierning. 

The peple of vdyr realmis, son, sayd he. 
Bene moyr expert in craftis, and moir sle^ 
To forge and carve lyflyk staturis of bras. 
Be countinance as the spreit tharin was ; 
I traist, forsuith heyreftyr mony ane 
Sail hew quyk facis furth of marbyll stane ; 

rustling. ' adorned. * sly, clever. 



174 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Sum wtheris better can thair causis pleid ; 
Sum bene mair crafty in ane wthir steid, 
With I'evvlis and with mesouris by and by 
For til excers the art of geometry ; 
And sum moir subtel to discrive and prent 
The sternis movingis and the hevynis went ' : 
Bot thow, Romane, remember, as lord and syre, 
To rewle the pepill vndir thyne impyre ; 
Thir sail thi craftis be at^ weil may seme, 
The paix to modyfy and eik manteme, 
To pardoun all cumis 3oldin and recreant, 
And prowd rabellis in batale for to dant. 

* path. 2 ijjat. 



STEPHEN HAWES. 



[Of Stephen IIawes little is known beyond the facts that he was a 
native of Suffolk, that he was educated at Oxford, had travelled in f'rance, 
and was Groom of the Privy Chamber to Henry VII. We can gather also 
that he was alive in January 1520-21, and that he was dead in 1530. He 
was the author of several minor poems which are treasured by collectors, 
but are of no literary value. It is a proof of the carelessness of those who 
have dealt with Hawes, that they have assigned to him The Temple of 
Glasse, though Hawes has himself expressly stated {Pastime of Pleasure, 
canto xiv.) that Lydgate was the author. Hawes' great work is The 
Pastime of Pleasure, or the Historie of Graunde Amour e and La Belle Pucel, 
written in or about 1506, and first printed in 1509. It is an allegorical 
poem describing the education and history of one Grande Amoure, 
who learns in the Tower of Doctrine and in the Tower of Chivalry those 
accomplishments which are necessary to constitute a perfect knight worthy 
of a perfect love— La Belle Pucel. His career through the world is then 
delineated — his combats with monsters, his strange adventures, his mar- 
riage, his death, his fame. The poem is dedicated, with an elaborate 
apology for its deficiencies, to Henry VII, and terminates with another 
apology ' unto all Poets ' on the same grounds.] 

Hawes belongs to the Provengal School. His model and 
master was, as he is constantly reiterating, Lydgate, though he 
was well acquainted with the works of Chaucer, whose comic vein 
he occasionally affects, with the verses of Gower, and with the 
narrative poetry of France and Italy. His poem is elaborately 
allegorical, though the allegory is not alway easy to follow in 
detail, and is obviously much impeded with extraneous matter. 
The style has little of the fluency of Lydgate, and none of his 
vigour ; the picturesqueness and brilliance which are characteristic 
of Chaucer are not less characteristic of Chaucer's Scotch dis- 
ciples who were Hawes' contemporaries. The narrative, though 
by no means lacking incident, and by no means unenlivened with 
beauties both of sentiment and expression, too often stagnates in 



176 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

prolix discussions, and wants as a rule life and variety. The com- 
position is often loose and feeble, the vocabulary is singularly 
limited, and bad taste is conspicuous in every canto. But Hawes, 
with all his faults, is a true poet. He has a sweet simplicity, a 
pensive gentle air, a subdued cheerfulness about him which have 
a strange charm at this distance of dissimilar time. Though the 
hand of the artist is not firm, and the colouring sometimes too 
sober, his pictures are very graphic. Take one out of many : — 

' The way was troublous and ey nothyng playne, 
Tyll at the last I came into a dale, 
Behold)Tig Phoebus declinying lowe and pale. 
With my greyhoundes, in the fayre twylight 
I sate me downe.' 

His verse is sometimes harsh, but it often breathes a plaintive 
music, and has a weirdly beautiful rhythm ' which falls on the 
ear like the echo of a vanished world,' and seems to transport us 
back to the dim cloister of some old mediaeval abbey. One 
such stanza we give : — 

' O mortall folke you may beholde and see 
Howe I lye here, sometime a mighty knight, 
The end of joye and ail prosperite 
Is death at last, thorough his course and mighte, 
After the daye there cometh the darke nighte. 
For thojigh the daye he never so long. 
At last the belle ringeth to evensong.^ 

That couplet alone should suffice for immortality. We may claim 
also for this neglected poet complete originality at an age when 
English poetry at least had degenerated into mere translations, 
into feeble narratives, or into sickly imitations of Chaucer. 

But there are two other interesting points connected with The 
Pastime of Pleasure. It marks with singular precision a great 
epoch in our literature. It is the last expiring echo of Medi- 
aevalism ; it is the first articulate prophecy of the Renaissance. 
It is the link between The Ca)itcrbury Talcs and The Faery Queen. 
Hawes is in poetry what Philippe de Commines is in prose : 
he belongs to the old world and he breathes its atmosphere — he 
belongs also to the new, for its first rays are falling on him. He 
connects the two. The weeds of a time sad and sombre indeed 
hang about him, but Hope is the refrain of his song. 



HA IVES. 177 

' Drive despaire away. 
And live in hope which shall do you good. 
Joy Cometh after when the payne is past, 
Be ye pacient and sober in mode : 
To wepe and waile, all is for you in waste. 
Was never payne, but it had joy at last 
In the fayre morrowe.' 

The dawn had broken, the morning he felt was near. Again, 
The Pastime of Pleasure was the precursor of The Faery Qiieen. 
The two poems are similar in allegorical purpose, similar in the 
developm.ent of their allegory. Some of the incidents, though not 
identical, are of the same character, and if it would be going too 
far to say that Spenser was a disciple of Hawes, it would not be 
going too far to say that Spenser had been a careful student of 
The Pastime of Pleasure, had been indebted to it for many a 
useful hint, many a slight preliminary sketch, many a pleasing 
effect of rhythm and cadence. We have dealt with some minute- 
ness on Hawes, because of the injustice which all his critics have 
so inexplicably done him. ' He is,' says Scott, ' a bad imitator 
of Lydgate, ten times more tedious than his original.' 'Even his 
name may be omitted,' adds Campbell, 'without any treason to 
the cause of taste.' Our extracts are, we may add, selected from 
The Pastime of Pleasure : his minor poems are best forgotten. 

J. Churton Collins. 



VOL. I. 



178 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Dialogue between Graunde Amoure and La Pucel. 

[From Cantos xviii. and xix.] 

Arnoure. 
O swete lady, the good perfect starre 
Of my true hart, take ye nowe pitie, 
Thinke on my paine, whiche am tofore you here, 
With your swete eyes beholde you and se, 
Howe thought and wo, by great extremitie 
Hath chaunged my hue into pale and wanne. 
It was not so when I to loue began. 

Pucel. 
So me thinke, it dothe right well appeare 
By your coloure, that loue hath done you wo, — 
Your heuy countenaunce, and your doleful cheare, — 
Hath loue suche might, for to aray you so 
In so short space ? I maruell muche also 
That you woulde loue me, so sure in certayne 
Before ye knew that I woulde loue agayne. 

Avioure. 
My good deare hart, it is no maruaile why ; 
Your beauty cleare and louely lokes swete, 
My hart did perce with loue so sodainely, 
At the firste time, that I did you mete 
In the olde temple, when I did you grete. 
O lady deare, that pers'd me to the root ; 
O floure of comfort, all my heale and boote'. 

Pucel. 
Your wo and paine, and all your languishyng 
Continually, ye shall not spende in vaync, 
Sithe I am cause of your great mournyng. 
Nothinge exile you shall I by disdaine, 
Your hart and mine shall neucr part in twaine, 

' For these two lines the Ed. of 1555 reads : — 

Your bcautc my lierte so surely assayde 
That sylh tliat tyme it hath to you obayde. 



HA WES. 179 

Thoughe at the first I wouldne not condescende, 
It was for feare ye did some yll entende. 

Amoure. 
With thought of yll my minde was neuer mixt 
To you, madame, but always cleare and pure 
Bothe daye and nyght, vpon you whole perfixt 
Put I my minde, yet durst nothing discure 
Howe for your sake I did such wo endure, 
Till nowe this houre with dredfull hart so faint, 
To you, swete hart, I haue made my complaint. 

Pucel. 
I demed oft you loued me before ; 
By your demenoure I did it espye, 
And in my minde I judged euermore 
That at the last ye woulde full secretely 
Tell me your minde, of loue right gentilly : 
All ye haue done so my mercy to craue 
In all worship, you shall my true loue haue. 

Amoure. 
O gemme of vertue, and lady excellent 
Aboue all other in beauteous goodlines, 
O eyen bright as starre refulgent, 

profounde cause of all my sickenes, 
Nowe all my joye and all my gladnes, 
Wouldne God that we were joyned in one 
In mariage, before this daye were gone. 

Amoure Laments the Absence of La Belle Pucel. 

[From Canto xx.] 

Then agayne I went to the tower melodious 
Of good dame Musicke, my leaue for to take ; 
And priuely with these wordes dolorous 

1 saicd ; O tower, thou maiest well aslake 
Suche melody nowe ; in the more to make 
The gemme is gone of all famous port 
That was chefe cause of the great comfort. 

N 2 



i8o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Whilome thou was the faire tower of light, 
But nowe thou art replete with darkenes, 
She is nowe gone, that shone in the so bright 
Thow wast sometime the tower of gladnes, 
Now maist thou be the tower of heauines. 
For the chefe is gone of all thy melody, 
Whose beauty cleare made most swete armony. 

The faire carbuncle, so full of clearenes. 
That in the truely did most purely shine. 
The pearle of pitie, replete with swetenes, 
The gentle gillofloure, the goodly columbine, 
The redolent plante of the dulcet vyne. 
The dede aromatike may no more encense, 
For she is so farre out of thy presence. 

Ah, ah ! truely, in the time so past 
Mine errande was, the often for to se ; 
Nowe for to enter I may be agast 
When thou art hence, the starre of beauty, 
For all my delite was to beholde the : 
Ah Tower, Tower ! all my ioye is gone ; 
In me to enter comfort there is none. 

So then inwardly my selfe bewaylyng 

In the tower I went, into the habitacle 

Of dame Musicke, where she was singyng 

The ballades swete, in her fayre tabernacle ; 

Alas, thought I, this is no spectacle 

To fede mine eyen, whiche are nowe all blynde. 

She is not here, that I was wont to finde. 

Then of dame Musicke, with all lowlines, 

I did take my leaue, withouten tariyng ; 

She thanked me with all her mekenes. 

And all alone, forthe I went musyng : 

Ah, ah, quoth I, my loue and likyng 

Is none faire hence, on whom my whole delite 

Daicly was set vpon her to haue sight. 



HA WES. l8i 

P'arewell, swete harte, farewell, farewel, farewel, 
Adieu, adieu, I wouldne I were you by ; 
God geue me grace with you sone to dwell 
Like as I did for to se you dayly ; 
Your lowly cheare and gentle company 
Reioysed my hart with fode most delicate, 
Mine eyen to se you were insaciate. 



The Character of a true Knight. 

[From Canto xxviii.] 

For knyghthode is not in the feates of warre 
As for to fight in quarrell ryght or wrong, 
But in a cause which trouthe can not defarre. 
He ought himselfe for to make sure and strong 
Justice to kepe, myxt with mercy among. 
And no quarell a knyght ought to take 
But for a trouthe, or for a womman's sake. 

For first good hope his legge harneyes shoulde be, 

His habergion, of perfect ryghteousnes 

Gyrde fast wyth the girdle of chastitie. 

His riche placarde shoulde be good busines 

Brodred with almes so full of larges ; 

The helmet, mekenes, and the shelde, good fayeth, 

His swerde God's word, as Saynt Paule sayeth. 

Also true wydowes, he ought to restore 
Unto their ryght, for to attayne their dower ; 
And to vpholde, and maytayne euermore 
The wealth of maydens, wyth his myhty power. 
And to his souerayne at euery maner hower 
To be ready, true, and eke obeysaunt, 
In stable loue fyxte, and not variaunt. 



1 82 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Description of La Belle Pucel. 

[From Canto xxx.] 

I sawe to me appeare 
The flower of comfort, the starre of vertue cleare, 
Whose beauty brj^ght into my hart did passe, 
Like as fayre Phebus dothe shyne in the glasse. 

So was my harte by the stroke of loue 

With sorowe persed and with mortall payne, 

That vnneth I myght from the place remoue 

Where as I stode, I was so take certayne. 

Yet vp I loked to se her agayne, 

And at aduenture, with a sory mode 

Up then I went, where as her person stode. 

And first of all, my harte gan to learne 
Right well to regester in remembraunce 
Howe that her beauty I might then decerne 
From toppe to tooe endued with pleasaunce, 
Whiche I shall shewe withouten variaunce ; 
Her shining heere so properly she dresses 
Aloft her forheade with fayre golden tresses. 

Her forheade stepe, with fayre browes ybent. 

Her eyen gray, her nose straight and fayre. 

In her white chekes the faire blonde it went 

As among the wite the redde to repayre ; 

Her mouthe right small, her breathe swete of ayre 

Her lippes soft and ruddy as a rose ; 

No hart alive but it woulde him appose. 

With a little pitte in her well fauoured chynne, 

Her necke long, as white as any lillye, 

With vayncs blewe in which the bloude ranne in, 

Her pappes rounde, and therto right pretye ; 

Her armes slender, and of goodly bodye, 

Her fingers small and therto right long, 

White as the milke, with blewe vaynes among. 



HA IVES. 

Her fete proper, she gartred well her hose : 
I neuer sawe so fayre a creature ; 
Nothing she lacketh, as I do suppose, 
That is longyng to faire dame Nature. 
Yet more ouer her countenaunce so pure, 
So swete, so louely, woulde any hart enspire 
With feruent loue to attayne his desire. 

But what for her maners passeth all, 
She is bothe gentle, good, and vertuous, 
Alas, what fortune did me to her call 
Without that she be to me pitifull? 
With her so fettred, in paynes dolorous. 
Alas, shall pitie be from her exiled, 
Whiche all vertus hath so vndefiled? 



JOHN SKELTON. 



[The date of Skelton's birth is not known ; it probably took place some- 
where about 1460. He began his career as a sober scholar; he ended it as 
a ribald priest. In his first capacity he was tutor to Prince Henry (after- 
wards Henry VIII), the Laureate of three Universities, and the friend of 
Caxton and Erasmus, who has described him as litterarum Anglicarum 
lumen et decus. In his second capacity he was rector of Diss in Norfolk 
and a hanger-on about the Court of Henry VIII. He died at Westminster, 
where he had taken sanctuary to escape the wrath of Wolsey, in 1529. 
Some of his poems are said to have been printed in London in 1512; 
a completer collection of them appeared in 1568, but it was not until Dyce's 
admirable collection in 1843 that they were published in their integrity.] 

Skelton's claims to notice lie not so much in the intrinsic ex- 
cellence of his work as in the complete originality of his style, in 
the variety of his powers, in the peculiar character of his satire, 
and in the ductility of his expression when ductility of expression 
was unique. His writings, which are somewhat voluminous, may 
be divided into two great classes — those which are written in 
his own peculiar measure, and which are all more or less of the 
same character, and those which are written in other measures and 
in a different tone. To this latter class belong his serious poems, 
and his serious poems are now deservedly forgotten. Two of them, 
however, T^e Bowge of Court, a sort of allegorical satire on the 
court of Henry VIII, and the morality oi Magnijiceticc, which gives 
him a creditable place among the fathers of our drama, contain 
some vigorous and picturesque passages which have not been 
thrown away on his successors. As a lyrical poet Skelton also 
deserves mention. His ballads are easy and natural, and though 
pitched as a rule in the lowest key, evince touches of real poetical 
feeling. When in the other poems his capricious muse breaks out 
into lyrical singing, as she sometimes does, the note is clear, the 
music wild and airy. The Garlande of Lmircll for example con- 
tains amid all its absurdities some really exquisite fragments. 



SA'ELTOJV. 185 

But it is as the author of The Boke 0/ Colin Clout, Why come ye 
nat to Court, Ware the Hawke, The Boke of Philipp Sparoiue, and 
The Tunny ng of Elinore Rummyng, that Skelton is chiefly inter- 
esting. These poems are all wTitten in that headlong voluble 
breathless doggrel which, rattling and clashing on through quick- 
recurring rhymes, through centos of French and Latin, and through 
every extravagant caprice of expression, has taken from the name 
of its author the title of Skeltonical verse. The three first poems 
are satires. Colin Clout is a general attack on the ignorance and 
sensuality of the clerg}^ The second is a fierce invective against 
Cardinal Wolsey, and the third is directed against a brother 
clerg>TOan who was, it appears, in the habit of flying his hawks 
in Skelton's church. These three poems are all in the same strain, 
as in the same measure— grotesque, rough, intemperate, but though 
gibbering and scurrilous, often caustic and pithy, and sometimes 
rising to a moral earnestness which contrasts strangely with their 
uncouth and ludicrous apparel. 

' Though my rime be ragged, 
Tatter'd and jagged, 
Rudely raine-beaten. 
Rusty and moth-eaten ; 
If ye take wel therewith, 
It hath in it some pith.' 

And the attentive student of Skelton will soon discover this. 
Indeed he reminds us more of Rabelais than any author in our 
language. In The Boke of Philipp Sparowe he pours out a long 
lament for the death of a favourite sparrow which belonged to a 
fair lay nun. This poem was probably suggested by Catullus' 
Dirge on a similar occasion. In Skelton, however, the whole tone 
is burlesque and extravagant, though the poem is now and then 
relieved by pretty fancies and by graceful touches of a sort of 
humorous pathos. In The Tunnyng of Elinore Rummyno-e his 
powers of pure description and his skill in the lower walks of 
comedy are seen in their highest perfection. In this sordid and 
disgusting delineation of humble life he may fairly challenge the 
supremacy of Swift and Hogarth, But Skelton is, with all his 
faults, one of the most versatile and one of the most essentially 
original of all our poets. He touches Swift on one side, and he 
touches Sackville on the other. 

J. Churton Collins. 



1 86 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



A LULLABYE. 

With Lullay, lullay, lyke a chylde 

Thou slepyst to long, thou art begylde. 
My darlyng dere, my daysy floure, 

Let me, quod he, ly in your lap. 
Ly styll, quod she, my paramoure, 

Ly styll hardely, and take a nap. 

Hys hed was hevy, such was his hap, 
All drowsy, dremyng, dround in slepe, 
That of hys love he toke no kepe. 

With Hey, lullay, &c. 
With ba, ba, ba, and bas, bas, bas. 

She cheryshed hym both cheke and chyn, 
That he wyst neuer where he was : 

He had forgotten all dedely syn. 

He wantyd wyt her love to wyn, 
He trusted her payment, and lost all hys pray': 
She left hym slepyng, and stale away, 

Wyth Hey, lullay, &c. 
The ryvers rowth ^, the waters wan ; 

She sparyd not to wete her fete ; 
She wadyd over she found a man 

That halsyd^ her hartely, and kyst her swete. 

Thus after her cold she cought a hete. 
My lafe, she sayd, rowtyth * in hys bed : 
1 wys he hath a hevy hed, 

Wyth Hey, lullay, &c. 

What dremyst thou, drunchard, drowsy pate ! 

Thy lust ''' and lykyng is from th^ gone : 
Thou blynkerd blowboll ", thou wakyst to late ; 

Behold thou lyeste, luggard, alone ! 

Well may thou sygh, well may thou grone, 
To dele wyth her so cowardly : 
I wys, powlc hachct, she blcryd thyne I ". 

Or pay (?) '^ rough. " embraced. * snorelh. 

* pleasure. " drunkard. ' deceived you. 



SKELTON. i»7 



Picture of Riot. 

[From The Bowge of CourleK] 

Wyth that came Ryott, russhymge all at once, 

A rusty gallande, to-ragged and to-rente : 
And on the horde he whyrled a payre of bones ; 
Quater treye dews he clatered as he wente : 
Now have at all, by Sainte Thomas of Kente ! 
And ever he threwe and kyst" I wote nere what, 
His here-^ was grovven thorowe oute his hat. 

Thenne I behelde how he dysgj'sed was : 

His hede was hevy for watchynge over nyghte, 
His eyen blereed, his face shone lyke a glas, 
His gowne so shorte that it ne cover myghte 
His rumpe, he wente so air for somer lyghte. 
His hose was garded * wyth a lyste of grene, 
Yet al the knee they were broken I wene. 

His cote was checked with patches red and blewe. 

Of Kyrkeby Kendall was his shorte demye", 

And ay he sange, ' In fayth, decon thow ere we' 

His elbowe bare, he ware his gere so nye^ : 

His nose a droppynge, his lyppes were full drye, 

And by his syde his whynarde^ and his pouche 

The devyll myghte daunce therein for ony crowche". 

To Maystress Margaret Hussey. 

[From The Garlande oj Laurell.] 

Mirry Margaret, 

As mydsomer flowre ; 

Jentill as fawcoun 

Or hawke of the towere : 

» i. e. The Rewards of a Court. Bowge is properly ' allowance of meat :\nd 
drink' (Fr. boucke). ' cast. ' hair. * trimmed. ^ wai:.t- 

coat, or jacket. « so short (?). dagger. » without meetm- 

with any cross, i. e. piece of money so marked. 



1 88 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

With solace and gladnes, 
Moche mirthe and no madness, 
All good and no badness, 
So joyously, 
So maydenly, 
So womanly, 
Her demenyng " 
In every thynge, 
Far, far passynge 
That I can endyght, 
Or suffyce to wryghte, 
Of mirry Margarete, 
As mydsomer flowTe, 
Jentyll as fawcoun 
Or hawke of the towre : 
As pacient and as styll, 
And as full of good wyll 
As faire Isaphill ; 
Colyaunder, 
Swete pomaunder, 
Goode Cassaunder ; 
Stedfast of thought, 
Wele made, wele wrought ; 
Far may be sought. 
Erst that ye can fynde 
So corteise, so kynde. 
As mirry Margaret, 
This mydsomer floure, 
Jentyll as fawcoun 
Or hawke of the towre. 

From Colyn Cloute. 

I Colyn Clout 
As I go about 
And wandryng as I walke 
I heare the people talke ; 
Men say for syluer and golde 
Miters are bought and sold ; 



SK ELTON. 189 

There shall no clergy appose 
A myter nor a crosse 
But a full purse. 

A straw for Goddes curse ! 
What are they the worse ? 
For a simoniake, 
Is but a hermoniakeS 
And no more ye make 
Of symony men say 
But a childes play. 

Over this, the forsayd raye 
Report how the pope maye 
A holy anker ^ call 
Out of the stony wall, 
And hym a bysshopp make 
If he on him dare take 
To kepe so hard a rule, 
To ryde vpon a mule 
Wyth golde all betrapped, 
In purple and paule belapped. 
Some hatted and some capped, 

Rychely be wrapped, 
God wot to theyt great paynes, 
In rochettes of fine raynes ^ ; 
Whyte as morowes mylke, 
Their tabertes of fine silke. 
Their stirops of mixt golde begared *, 
Their may no cost be spared. 
Their moyles ^ golde doth eate, 
Theyr neighbours dye for meat. 

What care they though Gill sweat, 
Or Jacke of the Noke ? 
The pore people they yoke 
With sommons and citacions 
And excommunications 

> A word unexplained by Dyce. Mr. Skeat suggests that harmoniac = 
promoter of harmony; a man who makes things pleasant all round. 
» anchorite. ^ hnen made at Rennes in Brittany. * adorned. 

' mules. 



19° THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Aboute churches and market ; 

The bysshop on his carpet 

At home full soft doth syt, 

This is a feareful fyt, 

To heare the people iangle ! 

How warely they wrangle, 

Alas why do ye not handle, 

And them all mangle ? 

Full falsly on you they lye 

And shamefully you ascry^, 

And say as untruly, 

As the butterfly 

A man might say in mocke 

Ware^ the wethercocke 

Of the steple of Poules ', 

And thus they hurt their soules 

In sclaunderyng you for truth, 

Alas it is great ruthe ! 

Some say ye sit in trones 

Like prynces aquilonis ^, 
And shryne your rotten bones 
With pearles and precious stones, 

But now the commons grones 
And the people mones 
For preestes * and for lones 
Lent and neuer payde, 
But from day to day delaid, 
The commune welth decayd. 
Men say ye are tunge tayde ^, 
And therof speake nothing 
But dissimuling and glosing. 
Wherfore men be supposing 
That ye geue shrewd* counsel 
Against the commune wel, 
By pollyng '' and pillage 
In cities and village, 

' call out against. » were. ' Like so many Liicifers. 

• advances. ' tied. « evil. ' plundering. 



SKELTOX. 191 

By taxyng and tollage, 

Ye have monks to have the culerage 

For coueryng of an old cottage, 

That committed is a collage, 

In the charter of dottage, 

Tenure par service de sottage. 

And not par service de socage. 

After old segnyours 

And the learning of Litleton tenours, 

Ye haue so ouerthwarted 

That good lawes are subuerted, 

And good reason peruerted. 



SIR DAVID LYNDESAY. 

[Bom circ. 1490, died 1558.] 

Dunbar's attitude toward the change of religion, in his time 
impending, is that of a wholly unconscious precursor ; he is 
a minor Chaucer, who would have had less sympathy with men 
like Wyclyfife than his master had. Sir David Lyndesay was 
a ' spirit of another sort ' — a child of the new age, when the 
trumpets of the Reformation had summoned the strong minds 
of the time to take their sides for or against the old order. 
Indefinitely less of a poet,— hardly a poet at all, — he was yet 
a literary power filling a place and discharging a function of 
his own ; a trenchant satirist, almost a dramatist ; a political and 
moral pamphleteer, whose versified pamphlets are ahvays sus- 
tained at a high level by vigour and courage, and occasionally 
illumined by gleams of imagination. 

Lyndesay's life is part of the history of his time. The following 
dates are its mere landmarks. He was born at The Mount in 
Fifeshire about the year 1490, the junior by ten years of Luther 
and Sir Thomas More, the senior by fifteen of Knox. He was 
a student of St. Andrews in 1508, and passed from the Uni- 
versity to the service of the court. In 1513 he was present 
with James IV at Linlithgow when a supposed apparition came 
to warn the monarch against his fatal expedition. Subsequently 
he was gentleman-usher to the young prince — a fact to which 
he alludes in one of those appeals for promotion, which recall 
the similar petitions of Dunbar : — 

' When thou was young, I bore thee in mine arm, 
Full tenderly till thou bcgowth to gang.' 

In 1530 he was knighted and made Lyon King of Arms, or chief 
court herald, in which capacity he served in several foreign 
embassies. In 1535 his Thric Estates was acted at Cupar Fife, 
the court and company sitting nine hours to listen to it. 1536 
must have been the date of the King's Flyting, one of the 



LYXDESAY. 193 

most audacious compositions in the language. Next year the 
king's wife, Magdalene, died before her coronation, and Lyndesay 
wrote the Deploratioun, which may be compared, though un- 
favourably, with Chaucer's Lament for the Duchess. The metre 
is the rhyme royal, and the 147th line, 

' Twynkling lyke stems in ane frostie nycht,' 

is transcribed verbatim from the Prologue to the Canterbur)- 
Tales. In 1542 the poet witnessed at Falkland the death of 
the king (James V), who had been his consistent patron. In 1547, 
after the assassination of Beaton, he was present with the garri- 
son in the castle of St. Andrews, and was among the most urgent 
of those there assembled in persuading Knox to assume the direc- 
tion of affairs. In 1555 we hear of his presiding over a meeting 
of heralds to pronounce on some point of their pseudo-science. 
In 1558 he died at his family seat, having mingled in all the 
great movements of his age. 

Lyndesay's verse, on which his reputation as a writer depends, 
is all connected with the contemporary state of his country. To 
the lightest as well as the gravest — ranging from tedious allegory 
to lively ridicule — he has attached political and social applications. 
More than half his works are allegories. In the earliest, and as 
regards imaginative decoration the richest, The Dre?!ie, he is led 
through a series of dissolving views of the past ages of the world, 
a journey to Hades, and a flight beyond the stars to an interview 
with ' Sir Commonweal,' who joins with him in lamentation over 
a realm misgoverned by an 'ouir young king' and dissolute priests. 
In the same strain he harps in his Complay7it, in the direct attack 
on ecclesiastical corruption put into the mouth of a dying parrot, 
under the title of Tlie Testaiiient of the Papyngo, and in TJie Tra- 
gedy of the Cardinal^ the last of which passes on the moral of the 
Fall of Princes from Lydgate to Sackville. In all of these, and 
elsewhere, he preaches, with less consistency, the old sermon of 
Wyclyffe against the corruptions of wealth, and upholds, for the 
admiration of his readers, the poverty of the Apostolic age. In 
Kitteis Confession (c. 1541) he crosses the line drawn by Dunbar, 
and commits himself to a direct attack on one of the still esta- 
blished institutions of the Church, glancing incidentally at her 
foreign ceremonial — 

'And mekle Latin he did mummil, 
1 hard 11a thing but hummil bummil' — 
VOL. I. O 



194 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

and referring, as professed reformers in most ages have been wont 
to do, to the better practice of the 'gude kirk primitive.' In the 
Complaynt of Bagsc/ie, an old dog who has to give place to a new 
favourite, we have a reflection on the fickleness of court favour ; 
in The Joicsiiiig of Watsoti and Barbour a satire on the medical 
profession ; in the attack on Syde Taillis a rough exposure of the 
affected fashions of the day. In his Squire Meldruvi, the most 
pleasing and lively of his narrative pieces, Lyndesay appears as 
a late metrical romancer, taking as the basis of his story the 
career and exploits of a contemporary Scotch laird. The Satyre 
of the Thrie Estates, a well-sustained invective against the follies 
and vices of the time, the first approach to a regular dramatic 
composition in Scotland, and the most considerable of our Moral- 
ities, abounds in exhibitions of the author's unrestrained Ra- 
belaisian humour. It is impossible to read three pages without 
laughing, but there are many pages which it would be impossible 
to read at all to any modern audience. In his latest work, the 
Dialog concerning the Monarchic (c. 1553) Lyndesay reverts to 
the allegorical manner of his Dretne, and represents himself in con- 
verse with an old man. Experience, on ' the miserable estate of the 
world.' After a polemical defence of the use of his native tongue 
(v. inf.), the poem glides into a somewhat tiresome metrical his- 
tory of the ancient kingdoms of the earth ; it ends with an attack 
on that of the Pope as Antichrist, and a prophecy of the mil- 
lennium, which he anticipates in the year 2000 A.D. In the Pro- 
logue to this— his most elaborate composition — the author speaks 
modestly of his own artistic skill. He has never slept on Par- 
nassus, nor kept company with the Muses, nor drunk of Helicon : 
his inspiration is drawn from Calvary ; and he prays that the 
miracle of Cana may be renewed in converting the water of his 
instruction into wine. This candid self-criticism is on the whole 
correct. Lyndesay was rather a man of action bent on popular- 
ising his keen convictions than a professional writer. The bias 
of his mind and the temper of his time were alike unfavourable 
to finished works of art. His superabundant energy and ready 
humour made him a power, but he had no inclination to philo- 
sophise in solitude or to refine at leisure. His life was spent 
amid stormy politics, and we need not wonder that a pressure 
of affairs similar to that which for a space held even the genius 
of Milton in abeyance, should have marred the literary produc- 
tions of a man who had more talent than genius, and who wrote 



L YNDESA Y. 



195 



'currente calamo' on such various themes with an almost fatal 
fluency. His greatest admirers have confessed that 'he has 
written so many verses that they cannot always be expected to 
reach a very high standard.' Passages in The Dreme, Squire 
Meldrum, and The Monarchic^ may for grace of description be 
set beside any corresponding to them in the works of his pre- 
decessors ; but his writings are in the main more distinguished for 
trenchant sense, vivacity, courage, and observing power than by 
high imagination. He himself speaks of his 'raggit rural verse,' 
and he willingly passes from more delicate fancies to discourse on 
the grave matters with the rehearsal of which he desires rather to 
edify than to delight his readers. His style is generally incisive, 
and though frequently disfigured by 'aureate' terms, leaves us 
little room to doubt of the authors meaning. Unlike Dunbar, 
L>Tidesay may almost be said to have been bom a Protestant ; 
but he never ventured beyond the range of the leading Reformers 
of his age. He is a Calvinist, more tolerant of sins of blood than 
errors of brain, rejoicing like Tertullian over the agonies of the 
damned. His mission was to amuse and arouse the people of 
his time, to affront them with a reflection of their vices, and to 
set to rough music the thunder and the whirlwind of sixteenth- 
century iconoclasm. 

J. NiCHOL. 



02 



196 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



From the Prologue to 'The Dreme.' 

Efter that I the lang vvynteris nycht 

Had lyne walking^, in to my bed, allone, 

Throuch hevy thocht, that no way sleip- I mycht, 
Rememberyng of divers thyngis gone ; 
So, up I rose, and clethit me anone ; 

Be this, fair Tytane with his lemis^ lycht 

Ouer all the land had spred his baner brycht. 

With cloke and hude I dressit me belyve*. 

With dowbyll schone, and myttanis on my handis ; 

Howbeit the air was rycht penetrative, 

Yit fure I furth, lansing ouirhorte^ the landis. 
Toward the see, to schorte ^ me on the sandis ; 

Because unblomit was baith bank and braye, 

And so, as I was passing be the waye, 

I met dame Flora, in dale weid dissagysit ''j 
Quhilk into May wes dulce, and delectabyll ; 

With stalwart stormis, hir sweitnes wes supprisit ; 
Hir hevynlie hewis war turnit into sabyll, 
Quhilkis umquhile war to luffaris * amiabyll. 

Fled frome the froste, the tender flouris I saw, 

Under dame Naturis mantyll, lurking law ". 

Pensyve in hart, passing full soberlie 
Unto the see, ordward I fure anone ; 

The see was furth, the sand wes smooth and drye ; 
Then up and doune I musit myne allone, 
Tyll that I spyit ane lyttill cave of stone, 

Heych in ane craig : upwart I did approche. 

But tarying, and clam up in the roche : 

' waking. * Observe the use of ei for several soulhcrn vowel-sounds. 

' rays. * at once. ' athwart. * amuse. '' disguised. 

' lovers. * low. 



LYNDESAY. ^97 



And purposit, for passing of the tyme, 

Me to defend from ociositie 
With pen and paper to register in ryme 

Sum mery mater of Antiquitie : 

Bot Idelnes, ground of iniquitie, 
Scho maid so dull my spreitis, me within, 
That I wyste nocht at quhat end to begin. 

But satt styll in that cove, quhare I mycht see 
The wolteryng of the wallis ^ up and down ; 

And this fals Warldis instabylytie 

Unto that see makkand^ comparisoun. 
And of this Warldis wracheit variatioun 

To thame that fixis all thair hole intent, 

Consideryng quho most had suld most repent. 

So, with my hude my hede I happit warme, 
And in my cloke I fauldit boith my feit ; 

I thocht my corps with cauld suld tak no harme, 
My mittanis held my handis weill in heit ; 
The skowland craig me coverit frome the sleit : 

Thare styll I satt, my bonis for to rest, 

Tyll Morpheus, with sleip, my spreit opprest. 

So throw the bousteous ^ blastis of Eolus, 
And throw my walkyng on the nycht before. 

And throw the seyis movyng marvellous 
Be Neptunus, with mony route and rore, 
Constrainit I was to sleip, withouttin more : 

And quhat I dremit, in conclusion 

I sail you tell, ane marvellous Visioun. 

^ waves. * Northern participial form. ' boisterous. 



198 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

From 'The Testament and Complaynt of the Papingo.' 

Kyng James the First, the patroun of prudence, 
Gem of ingyne, and peirll of polycie, 

Well of Justice, and flude of eloquence, 
Quhose vertew doith transcende my fantasie 
For tyll discryve ; yit quhen he stude most hie 

Be fals exhorbitant conspiratioun 

That prudent Prince was pieteouslie put down. 

Als, James the Secunde, roye of gret renoun, 

Beand in his superexcelland glore, 
Throuch reakless schuttyng of one gret cannoun 

The dolent deith, allace ! did hym devore. 

One thyng thare bene, of quhilk I marvell more, 
That Fortune had at hym sic mortall feid^ 
Throuch fyftie thousand, to wailP him by the heid. 

My hart is peirst with panes, for to pance^. 
Or wrytt, that courtis variatioun 

Of James the Third, quhen he had governance, 
The dolour, dreid, and desolatioun. 
The change of court and conspiratioun ; 

And quhon that Cochrane, with his companye, 

That tyme in courte clam so presumpteouslye. 
****** 

Allace ! quhare bene that rycht redoutit roye. 

That potent prince, gentyll King James the Feird*? 

I pray to Christe his saule for to convoye : 
Ane greater nobyll rang nocht in to the eird. 
O Atropus ! warye® we maye thy weird; 

For he wes myrrour of humylitie, 

Lode Sterne and lampe of liberalytie. 

And of his court, throuch Europe sprang the fame, 
Of lustie Lordis and lufesum Ladyis ying, 

Tryumphand tornayis, justyng, and kychtly game. 
With all pastyme, accordyng for ane kyng : 
He wes the glore of princelie governyng, 

* feud. ' choose. ' think. ' fourth. ^ curse. 



LYXDESAY. 199 

Ouhilk, throuch the ardent lufe he had to France, 
Agane Ingland did mov^e his ordinance. 

Of Floddoun Feilde the rew^iie to revolve, 
Or that most dolent daye for tyll deplore, 

I nyll, for dreid that dolour yow dissolve, 

Schaw how that prince, in his trj-umphand glorc, 
Distroyit was, quhat nedeith proces more ? 

Nocht be the vertew of Inglis ordinance 

Bot, be his awin wylfull mysgovernance. 

From 'Ane Satyre of the Threi Estaitis.' 
Verilie. 

For our Christ's saik, I am richt weill content 
To suffer all thing that sail pleis his grace, 

Howbeit, ye put ane thousand till torment. 
Ten hundreth thowsand sail ryse into thair place. 

[Veritie sits down on hir knies and sajds:] 
Yet up, thow slepis all too lang, O Lord, 

And mak sum ressonabill reformatioun, 
On thame that dois tramp dowTi thy gracious word, 

And hes ane deidlie indignatioun, 

At them, quha maks maist trew narratioun : 
Suffer me not, Lord, mair to be molest, 

Gude Lord, I mak the supplicatioun. 
With thy unfriends let me nocht be supprest. 
****** 

Pardoner. 
My patent pardouns, ye may se. 
Cum fra the Cane of Tartarei, 

Weill seald with ester schellis ; 
Thocht ye have na contritioun. 
Ye sail have full remissioun. 

With help of buiks and bellis. 
Heir is ane relict, lang and braid. 
Of Fine Macoult the richt chaft blaid', 

With teith and al togidder : 
' jaw-bone. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Of Colling's cow, heir is ane home, 
For eating of Mackonnal's come 

Was slain into Baquhidder. 
Heir is ane coird, baith great and lang, 
Ouhilk hangit Johne the Armistrang : 

Of gude hemp soft and sound : 
Gude, halie peopill, I stand for'd, 
Quha ever beis hangit with this cord 

Neids never to be dround. 
The culum ' of Sanct Bryd's kovv, 
The gruntill- of Sanct Antonis sow, 

Quhilk buir his haly bell ; 
Quha ever he be heiris this bell clinck, 
Gif me ane dacat for till drink, 

He sail never gang to hell. 

Pmiper. 

Marie ! I lent my gossop my mear to fetch hame coills, 

And he hir drounit into the Querrell hollis ; 

And I ran to the Consistorie, for to pleinze^ 

And thair I happinit amang ane greidie meinze*. 

Thay ga\'e me first ane thing thay call Citandiim, 

Within aucht dayis, I gat bot Lybellandum, 

Within ane moneth, I gat ad Opponcndtwt 

In half ane yeir I gat Interloqiiejidiiin, 

And syne, I gat, how call ye it ? ad Replicandtait. 

Bot, I could never ane word yit understand him ; 

And than, thay gart me cast out many plackis, 

And gart me pay for four-and-twentie actis : 

Bot, or thay came half gait to Cojicbtdendum 

The Fcind ane plack was left for to defend him. 

Thus, thay post-ponit me twa yeir, with thair trainc, 

Sync, Hodie ad octo, bad me cum againe. 

And than, thir ruiks, thay roupit' wonder fast, 

For sentence silver, thay cryit at the last. 

Of Promina'atiduin they maid me wonder fainc ; 

Bot I got never my gude gray meir againe. 

tail. ' snout. ^ comiilniii. * crew. ' cio.ikcd. 



LYNDESAY. 



From ' The Monarchie.' 
Christ, efter his glorious Ascentioun, 

Tyll his DiscipHs send the Holy Spreit, 
In toungis of fyre, to that intentioun, 

Thay, beand of all languages repleit, 

Throuch all the warld, with wordis fair and swcit, 
Tyll every man the faith thay suld furth schaw 
In thare owin leid\ delyverand thame the Law. 
Tharefore I thynk one gret dirisioun, 

To heir thir Nunnis and Systeris nycht and day 
Syngand and sayand Psalmes and Orisoun, 

Nocht understandyng quhat thay syng nor say. 

Bot lyke one Stirlyng or ane Papingay, 
Quhilk leirnit ar to speik be lang usage : 
Thame I compair to byrdis in ane cage. 
Rycht so childreyng and ladyis of honouris 

Prayis in Latyne, to thame ane uncuth " leid, 
Mumland thair Matynis, Evinsang, and thair Houris, 

Thare Pater Noster, Ave, and thare Creid. 

It wer als plesand to thare spreit, in deid, 
God have mercy on me, for to say thus, 
As to say, Miserere mei Dcus. 
Sanct Jerome in his propir toung Romane 

The Law of God he trewlie did translait. 
Out of Hebrew and Greik, in Latyne plane, 

Ouhilk hes bene hid from us lang tyme, God wait, 

Onto this tyme : bot, efter myne consait. 
Had Sanct Jerome bene borne in tyll Argyle 
In to Yrische toung his bukis had done compyle. 
Prudent Sanct Paull doith mak narratioun 

Twychcyng ihe divers leid of every land, 
Sayand, there bene more edificatioun 

In fyve wordis that folk doith understand. 

Nor to pronounce of wordis ten thousand 
In strange langage, sine wait not quhat it mcnis : 
I thynk sic pattryng is not worth twa prenis^ 
****** 
* language. '' unknown. ^ pins. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Hope of Immortality. 

All creature that ever God creat, 

As wryttis Paull, thay wys to se that day 

Quhen the childryng of God, predestinat, 
Sail do appeir in thare new fresche array ; 
Quhen corruptioun beis clengit clene away, 

And changeit beis thair mortall qualitie 

In the gret glore of immortalitie. 

And, moreattonr, all dede thyngis corporall, 
Vnder the concave of the Hevin impyre. 

That now to laubour subject ar, and thrall, 

Sone, mone, and sterris, erth, waiter, air, and fyre, 
In one maneir thay have ane hote desyre, 

Wissing that day, that thay may be at rest, 

As Erasmus exponis manifest. 

We s€ the gret Globe of the Firmament 

Continuallie in moveyng marvellous ; 
The sevin Planetis, contrary thare intent, 

Are reft about, with course contrarious ; 

The wynd, and see, with stormys furious, 
The trublit air, with frostis, snaw and rane, 
Unto that day thay ti-avell evir in pane. 

And all the Angellis of the Ordouris Nyne, 
Haveand compassioun of our misereis, 

Thay wys after that day, and to that fyne ^, 
To sd us freed frome our infirmeteis. 
And clengit^ frome thir gret calamiteis 

And trublous lyfc, quhilk never sail have end 

On to that day, I mak it to thee kend''. 

' cud. ^ cleaned. ' known. 



BALLADS. 



In treating of the Ballads, or old popular poetry of England, it 
is impossible to follow the plan generally adopted in this col- 
lection. We cannot arrange them by date of composition, for, 
while the plots and situations are often of immemorial age, the 
language is sometimes that of the last century. They are therefore 
inserted here, as they were first committed to the press and sold 
as broad-sheets not much later than the period at which we have 
arrived. About the authors of the ballads, and their historical 
date, we know nothing. Like the Volks-lieder of other European 
countries, the popular poems of England were composed by the 
people for the people. Again, the English ballads, and those 
of the Lowland Scotch, deal with topics common to the peasant 
singers of Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, and the Slavonic 
countries. The wide distribution of these topics is, like the dis- 
tribution of mdrchen or popular tales, a mark of great antiquity. 
We cannot say when they originated, or where, or how ; we only 
know that, in one shape or other, the themes of romantic ballads 
are very ancient. There are certain incidents, like that of the 
return of the dead mother to her oppressed children ; like the 
sudden recovery of a fickle bridegroom's heart by the patient 
affection of his first love ; like the adventure of May Colvin with 
a lover who has slain seven women, and tries to slay her ; like 
the story of the bride who pretends to be dead that she may 
escape from a detested marriage, which are in all European 
countries the theme of popular song. Again, the pastimes and 
labours of the husbandmen and shepherd were, long ago, a kind 
of natural opera. Each task had its old song, — ploughing, harvest, 
seed-time, marriage, burial, had appropriate ballads or dirges. 
Aubrey, the antiquary, mentions ' a song sung in the ox-house, 
when they wassel the oxen.' A similar chant survives in Berry. 
Further, each of the rural dance-tunes had its ballad-accompani- 
ment, and the dance was sometimes a rude dramatic representa- 
tion of the action described in the poem. Many of the surviving 



204 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

volks-lieder are echoes from the music of this idyllic world of 
dance and song from the pleasant England in which 
' When Tom came home from labour, 
And Cis from milking rose, 
Merrily went the tabor, 

And merrily went their toes.' 

Other European ballads are echoes from the same stage of 
social life, but they are clearer, sweeter, more full and unbroken 
in tone than the lays of rural England. Our ballads speak of 
adventures known to Romaic, Danish, and Italian peasants ; but 
in listening to them we hear the drawl of the dull rustic, and 
catch the snivelling drone of the provincial moralist. Unlike 
the Provengal, or Romaic, or Lowland Scotch ballads, the English 
remains are too often flat, garrulous, spiritless, and didactic. They 
lack the picturesqueness, the simplicity, the felicitous choice of 
expression, the fire, the speed of the best European volks-lieder. 
The probable reason of this flatness and languor will be stated 
presently ; in the meantime we must note that the ballads of the 
Lowland Scotch, recovered from oral tradition, have the fire which 
we miss in English popular poems. It is for this reason that 
many of our selected ballads are chosen from the northern Border. 
The poets were none the less English in blood and language. 

Before attempting to assign the causes of the poverty of English 
ballads, it may be as well to prove the fact. The death of Douglas 
in the English ballad of Chevy Chase is a passage that has won 
the praise of Addison. It runs thus : — 

' With that there came an arrow keene 
Out of an English bow, 
Which struck Erie Douglas on the breast, 
A deepe and deadlye blow; 

Who never said more words than these, 

" Fight on, my merrymen all ! 
For why. my life is at an end, 

Loid Pcarcy sees my fall." ' 

Tn the Scotch ballad this event is prepared for by a dream 
which visits Douglas, a dream singularly impressive and romantic. 

' But I hae dreamed a dreary dream, 
Beyond the Isle of Sky; 
I saw a dead man win a fight. 
But I think that man was I.' 



BALLADS. 205 

This supernatural effect is repeated at the moment of Douglas's 
fall, and thus a new charm is won for the poem, which is missed 
in Chevy Chase. The supernatural is almost invariably treated 
in a gross and flat style by the English balladist. He never 
thrills the reader with that shudder of awe which is caused by 
Clerk Satmdcrs, the Wife of Usher's Well, the Demon Lover, 
and Sir Roland. To give another example : the story of the 
Dead Man^s Ride is common in European popular poetry. The 
German popular version has been lost in the fame of Burger's 
Lenore. Everywhere the ballad tells how a dead lover (in Greece 
it is a dead brother), is roused from the sleep of death by the 
grief of a mistress or a mother, how the dead man carries his 
bride, or his sister, behind him on the saddle in a swift night 
ride, while the birds in the roadside cry, 'who is the fair girl 
that rides with the corpse?' 'who is the lover, perfumed with 
the incense of the dead ?' The Romaic version is perhaps the 
most moving of all. The dead brother gallops with the living 
sister to the house of the bereaved mother ; she hears his knock, 
and comes to the door, thinking that he is Charon, the emissary 
of death — Charon, who need not visit her, for she has already 
given him all her children but one daughter, and she is in a dis- 
tant land, 

"Ai/ TJaa Xapus SiaPaive, Kal ciWa iratSia div e'xcu ; 

Thus she speaks ; and even as she speaks, she recognises the 
ghost of her son, and dies of terror in the presence of the living 
and the dead. In England this ballad becomes The Suffolk 
Miracle (Child, English and Scotch Ballads, vol. i. p. 217); 'a 
relation of a young man, who, two months after his death, appeared 
to his sweetheart, and carried her on horse-back behind him for 
forty miles in two hours, and was never seen after but in her grave.' 
The ballad tells us how the young people loved each other, and 
how the father of the girl disapproved of the engagement : — • 

' Forty miles distant was she sent 
Unto his brother, with intent 
That she should there so long remain, 
Till she had changed her mind again.' 

The lover dies of grief, and his ghost pays a morning visit to 
the house where the lady is living, 

♦ Which, when her uncle understood. 
He hoped it would be for her good ; ' 



2o6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

and gave his consent to the homeward ride, which the spectre 
accomplished at the creditable pace of twenty miles an hour. 
It would be easy, but it is perhaps superfluous, to go on mul- 
tiplying examples of the poetic flatness of the English ballad. 
The enthusiasm of the specialist and the collector may be fired 
by the combat between Robin Hood and 'the bloody Butcher,' 
but who can call this sort of thing — poetry 1 

' Robin he marcht in the greene forest, 
Under the greenwood spray, 
And there he was ware of a proud bucher, 
Came dri\dng flesh that way ; 

The Bucher he had a cut-tailed dogg,' &c. 

If this be not enough, consider the exquisite final stanza of T/ie 
Ladyes Fall :— 

' Take heed you dainty damsells all. 
Of flattering words beware ; 
And to the honour of your name, 
Have you a specyal care ! ' 

As a general rule the Lowland Scotch ballads have escaped the 
didactic drivel and the long-drawn whine of the English examples. 
It is true that in one of them we learn, from a marvellously prosaic 

bard, how 

' John Thomson fought against the Turks,' 

and how ' this young chieftain ' (namely Thomson) ' sat alone.' 
But this weakness is rare enough in the poetry of the Northern 
Border. Even in a comparatively modern ballad, composed on 
a murder committed at Warristoun, near Edinburgh in 1600, there 
are picturesque touches. The lady of Warristoun had procured 
the death of her cruel husband. In the ballad she exclaims : — 

• Warristoun, Warristoun ! 

I wish that ye may sink for sin, 
I was but fifteen years auld, 
When first I entered your gates within.' 

To any one who knew the gloomy house of Warristoun, hanging 
over the deep black pool below, this verse must have seemed 
charged with the sentiment of The Fall of the House of Usher. 
The ballad is a fine example of the working of popular fancy on a 
historical datum. 

Popular poetry has often been compared to the wild rose, the 



BALLADS. 207 

wild stock out of which the richer garden roses are grown. If 
the wild stock be so poor and feeble in England, how comes it, 
we may ask, that English cultivated poetry is so rich in colour 
and perfume ? In simpler language, if the people is so devoid 
of poetry, how has the race come to produce so many great poets 
and the noblest poetic literature of the modem world, while artistic 
poets are rare indeed among races which have great wealth of 
popular song? This is not the place to attempt a full answer 
to the question ; we can only defend the natural imagination of 
the Enghsh people by saying that we do not really possess its 
unsophisticated productions. The English ballads are not, or are 
very rarely, pure volks-licder. The vast majority of them have not 
been collected from oral tradition, Hke the ballads of the Scotch 
Border, of Italy, and of Greece. As soon as printing was firmly 
established in England, the traditional songs were distributed in 
cheap broad-sheets. The people 'love a ballad but even too 
well ; if it be doleful matter, merrily set down, or a very pleasant 
thing indeed, and sung lamentably.' Pedlars like Shakspeare's 
Autolycus 'had songs for man or woman of all sizes.' These 
songs may originally have been true volks-lzeder—ma.r\y of them, 
indeed, can have been nothing else. In passing, however, through 
the hands of the printers and poor scholars who prepared them 
for the press, they became dull, long-drawn, and didactic. The 
loyalty, good-humour, and love of the free air and the green- 
wood remain, but the clerks have spoiled the praise of ' Robin 
Hood, the good outlaw.' The ballads wandered about the land, 
corrupted from the simplicity that pleased the untaught, into har- 
mony with the roughest educated taste. By Addison's time these 
broad-sheet ballads had been pasted on the walls of chambers in 
country houses. In the countr>^, says The Spectator (No. 85, June 
7 171 1), 'I cannot, for my Heart, leave a Room before I have 
thoroughly studied the Walls of it, and examined the several 
printed Papers which are usually pasted upon them.' And on 
a wall, Addison says, he found ' the old Ballad of The two Children 
in the Wood, which is one of the darling songs of the common 
People.' Most of our English ballads are gathered from old 
broad-sheets and ancient MS. collections. To say that is to 
say that they are dashed with the humblest literary common- 
place, that they do not come straight from the heart and lips of 
a singing people, like the modern Greeks or Italians. They have 
acquired, in the hands of half-educated printers and editors, a 



2o8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



tone which is not the tone of the people. They are ahnost as 
bald, often, as Dr. Johnson declared them to be— as bald as 
Johnson's parody : — 

' I put my hat upon my head, and went into the Strand, 
And there I saw another man, with his hat in his hand.' 

The history of English ballad-collecting may be summed up 
very briefly. We know from Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poesie, 
and from many passages in the Elizabethan drama, that ballads 
were both sung by 'blind crowders,' like the minstrels on the 
modern Greek frontier, and distributed by pedlars. Addison not 
only studied English volks-lieder. but also those of France and 
Italy. He tells us that Lord Dorset 'had a numerous collection of 
old English Ballads, and took a particular pleasure in the reading 
of them.' Mr. Dryden was of the same humour, so was Pepys of 
the famous diary. ' The little conceited wits of the age ' laughed 
at Addison, but Dryden ventured to publish some ballads in Mis- 
cella7iy Poems (1684-1708). A Collection of Old Ballads (since re- 
printed) was put out in 1723. Ramsay's Evergreen, containing 
many popular songs, appeared in 1724. The great event in the 
history of the taste for ballads was the publication of Percy's 
Reliques of Ancient Poetry, in 1765. Percy, as is well known, 
altered, softened, and diluted the old copies which he found in 
a folio MS. that came into his possession. A correct text from 
the folio, with excessively copious notes and prolegomena, was 
published by Messrs. Furnivall and Hales (London, 1867-68, 3 
vols.). Other noteworthy collections are those of Herd (1769), 
Ritson, Buchan, Motherwell, Kinloch, Jamieson (1806), and above 
all, The Border Minstrelsy of Scott. Perhaps the best modern 
collection, the most scholarly, and the least overladen with notes, 
is that of Professor F. J. Child {English and Scotch Ballads, Bos- 
ton, U.S. 1864). The Ballad Book of Mr. W. Allingham (London, 
1864) is the companion of every true ballad lover. 

The poetic character and quality of the ballads will be best 
learned from these poems themselves. They have the imaginative 
daring of early and simple minds ; they often deal with great tragic 
situations, with deep and universal passions. They are most 
poetical when the ardour, the anguish, the love, the remorse of 
some passionate mind becomes for once articulate, as in the cry 
of VValy, ivaly, the regret of Edom <?' Cordon, the mysterious wail 
of The Wife o' Usher's Well, or the monotonous chant of The 
Lyhe-wa/cc Dirge. 



BALLADS. 209 

In selecting Ballads for a purely poetical collection, it is neces- 
sary to choose, not those which the historian, the antiquary, 
the student of early society might prefer, but those which have 
most poetical power and charm, and are least embellished by 
modern editors. We may, for the purposes of this work, divide 
Ballads into five classes — the Historical, or Mythico-historical, 
to represent which we pick out Sir Patrick Spc7is, and Edoni 
a' Gordon. In each of these poems the popular fancy works on 
true historical data. The second class is the Romantic, and here 
Glasgerion, The Douglas Tragedy., The Twa Corbies, and Waly, 
Waly are chosen. As specimens of the popular treatment of 
the Supernatural, we take Clerk Saunders, The Wife of Usher's 
Well, and the fragment of a popular Dirge, like those which are 
still sung by the women of Corsica and the Greek isles. Ballads 
of the adventures of outlaws and wild marchmen will find their 
representative in Kinrnont Willie. As any selection, however 
limited, is incomplete without fragments of the Robin Hood cycle, 
we end with Robin and the Widoiu's Three Sofis, and Robin 
Hood's Death and Burial, while The Bailiff's Daughter illustrates 
the more domestic ballads of the English people. These are 
rerpresentatives of different classes of volks-lieder, but few poems 
suffer so much in the process of selection. Too many of the 
highest quality have to be omitted for want of space. And the 
ballads are wronged too, when they are made to appear among 
the more ornate and various measures of cultivated and artistic 
poetry. 

A. Lang. 



VOL. T. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



HISTORICAL. 

Sir Patrick Spens. 

[This ballad is a confused echo of the Scotch expedition which should 
have brought the Maid of Norway to Scotland, about 1285. While Dun- 
fermline is still spoken of as the favourite Royal residence, the Scotch 
nobles wear the corh-heeled skoon of a later century, a curious example 
of the medley common in traditional poetry.] 

The king sits in Dunfermline town, 
Drinking the blude-red wine ; 

* O whare will I get a skeely skipper, 

To sail this new ship of mine!' 

O up and spake an eldern knight, 

Sat at the king's right knee, — 
' Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor, 

That ever sail'd the sea.' 

Our king has written a braid letter, 

And seal'd it with his hand, 
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, 

Was walking on the strand. 

* To Noroway, to Noroway, 

To Noroway o'er the faem ; 
The king's daughter of Noroway, 
'Tis thou maun bring her hame.' 

The first word that Sir Patrick read, 

Sae loud loud laughed he ; 
The neist word that Sir Patrick read. 

The tear blinded his c'e. 

' O wha is this has done this deed, 

And tauld the king o' me, 
To send us out, at this time of the year, 

To sail upon the sea ? 



BALLADS. 211 

* Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet \ 

Our ship must sail the faem ; 

The king's daughter of Noroway, 

'Tis we must fetch her hame.' 

They hoysed their sails on Monenday morn, 

Wi' a' the speed they may ; 
They hae landed in Noroway, 

Upon a Wodensday. 

They hadna been a week, a week. 

In Noroway, but twae. 
When that the lords o' Noroway 

Began aloud to say, — 

* Ye Scottishmen spend a' our king's goud, 

And a' our queenis fee.' 

* Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud ! 

Fu' loud I hear ye lie. 

' For I brought as much white monie, 
As gane^ my men and me, 
. And I brought a half-fou^ o' gude red goud, 
Out o'er the sea wi' me. 

' Make ready, make ready, my merrymen a' ! 
Our gude ship sails the morn.' 

* Now, ever alake, my master dear, 

I fear a deadly storm ! 

* I saw the new moon, late yestreen, 

Wi' the auld moon in her arm ; 
And, if we gang to sea, master, 
I fear we 'II come to harm.' 

They hadna sailed a league, a league, 

A league but barely three, 
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud, 

And gurly grew the sea. 

' A line adapted in Kinmont Willie, as the formulae of the Iliad recurs 
in the Odyssey. ^ suffice. ' the eighth part of a peclc. 

P 2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The ankers brak, and the topmasts lap, 

It was sic a deadly storm ; 
And the waves cam o'er the broken ship, 

Till a' her sides were torn. 

' O where will I get a gude sailor. 

To take my helm in hand, 
Till I get up to the tall top-mast, 

To see if I can spy land?' 

' O here am I, a sailor gude. 

To take the helm in hand, 
Till you go up to the tall top-mast ; 

But I fear you '11 ne'er spy land.' 

He hadna gane a step, a step, 

A step but barely ane, 
When a bout flew orut of our goodly ship, 

And the salt sea it came in. 

' Gae, fetch a web o' the silken claith, 

Another o' the twine. 
And wap them into our ship's side, 

And let na the sea come in.' 

They fetched a web o' the silken claith. 

Another of the twine, 
And they wapped them round that gude ship's side, 

But still the sea came in. 

O laith, laith, were our gude Scots lords 

To weet their cork-heel'd shoon ! 
But lang or a' the play was play'd, 

They wat their hats aboon. 

And mony was the feather-bed. 

That flattered on the faem ; 
And mony was the gude lord's son, 

That never mair cam hame. 



BALLADS. 213 



The ladyes wrang their fingers white, 
The maidens tore their hair, 

A' for the sake of their true loves ; 
For them they'll see na mair. 

O lang, lang, may the ladyes sit, 
Wi' their fans into their hand, 

Before they see Sir Patrick Spens 
Come sailing to the strand ! 

And lang, lang, may the maidens sit, 
Wi' their goud kaims in their hair, 

A' waiting for their ain dear loves ! 
For them they '11 see na mair. 

O forty miles oft Aberdeen, 

'Tis fifty fathoms deep, 
And there Hes gude Sir Patrick Spens, 

Wi' the Scots lords at his feet. 



Edom o' Gordon. 

[Popular version of the storj' of the burning of the House of Towey, 
a hold of the Forbes's, by the Gordons, in 1571. There is one English 
version, named Captain Car.'] 

It fell about the Martinmas, 
When the wind blew shrill and cauld. 

Said Edom o' Gordon to his men, 
' We maun draw to a hauld. 

* And whatna hauld sail we draw to. 

My merry men and me.-* 
We will gae to the house of the Rodes, 

To see that fair ladye.' 



214 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The lady stood on her castle wa', 

Beheld baith dale and down ; 
There she was aware of a host of men 

Came riding towards the town. 

'O see ye not, my merry men a', 

see ye not what I see ? 
Methinks I see a host of men ; 

1 marvel who they be.' 

She ween'd it had been her lovely lord, 

As he cam' riding hame ; 
It was the traitor, Edom o' Gordon, 

Wha reck'd nor sin nor shame. 

She had na sooner buskit hersell, 

And putten on her gown. 
Till Edom o' Gordon an' his men 

Were round about the town\ 

They had nae sooner supper set, 

Nae sooner said the grace. 
But Edom o' Gordon an' his men 

Were lighted about the place. 

The lady ran up to her tower-head. 

As fast as she could hie, 
To see if by her fair speeches 

She could wi' him agree. 

* Come doun to me, ye lady gay, 

Come doun, come doun to me ; 
This night sail ye lig within mine arms, 
To-morrow my bride sail be.' 

* I vvinna come down, ye fausc Gordon, 

I winna come down to thee ; 
I winna forsake my ain dear lord, — 
And he is na far frae me.' 

' Town is used in .Scollaiid fur any country house or farm-buildings. 



BALLADS. 

' Gie owre your house, ye lady fair, 

Gie owre your house to me ; 
Or I sail burn yoursell therein, 

But an your babies three.' 

' I winna gie owre, ye fause Gordon, 

To nae sic traitor as thee ; 
And if ye bum my ain dear babes. 

My lord sail male' ye dree. 

* Now reach my pistol, Glaud, my man. 

And charge ye weel my gun ; 
For, but an I pierce that bluidy butcher, 
My babes, we been undone ! ' 

She stood upon her castle wa'. 

And let twa bullets flee : 
She miss'd that bluidy butcher's heart. 

And only razed his knee. 

' Set fire to the house ! ' quo' fause Gordon, 

Wud wi' dule and ire : 
' Faus ladye, ye sail rue that shot 

As ye burn in the fire ! ' 

* Wae worth, wae worth ye, Jock, my man ! 

I paid ye weel your fee ; 
Why pu' ye out the grund-wa' stane. 
Lets in the reek to me ? 

* And e'en wae worth ye, Jock, my man ! 

I paid ye weel your hire ; 
Why pu' ye out the grund-wa' stane, 
To me lets in the fire ? ' 

* Ye paid me weel my hire, ladye, 

Ye paid me weel my fee : 
But now I 'm Edom o' Gordon's man, — 
Maun either do or dee.' 



2i6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

O then bespake her Httle son, 

Sat on the nurse's knee : 
Says, ' O mither dear, gie owre this house, 

For the reek it smothers me.' 

* I wad gie a' my goud, my bairn, 

Sae wad I a' my fee. 
For ae blast o' the western wind. 

To blaw the reek frae thee.' 

O then bespake the daughter dear, — 
She was baith jimp and sma' : 

' O row' me in a pair o' sheets, 
A tow me owre the wa' ! ' 

They row'd her in a pair o' sheets, 
And tow'd her owre the wa' ; 

But on the point o' Gordon's spear 
She gat a deadly fa'. 

bonnie, bonnie was her mouth, 
And cherry were her cheeks. 

And clear, clear was her yellow hair, 
Whereon her red blood dreeps. 

Then wi' his spear he turn'd her owre ; 

gin her face was wan ! 

He said, ' Ye are the first that e'er 

1 wish'd alive again.' 

He cam and lookit again at her ; 
O gin her skin was white ! 

* 1 might hae spared that bonnie face 

To hae been some man's delight.' 

* Busk and boun, my merry men a', 

For ill dooms I do guess ; — 

1 cannot look on that bonnie face 
As it lies on the grass.' 



BALLADS. 217 

'Wha looks to freits, my master dear, 

Its freits will follow them ; 
Let it ne'er be said that Edom o' Gordon 

Was daunted by a dame.' 

But when the ladye saw the fire 

Come flaming o'er her head, 
She wept, and kiss'd her children twain, 

Says, ' Bairns, we been but dead.' 

The Gordon then his bugle blew, 

And said, ' Awa', awa' ! 
This house o' the Rodes is a' in a flame ; 

I hauld it time to ga'.' 

And this way lookit her ain dear lord, 

As he came owre the lea ; 
He saw his castle a' in a lowe, 

Sae far as he could see. 

* Put on, put on, my wighty men. 

As fast as ye can dri'e ! 
For he that 's hindmost o' the thrang 

Sail ne'er get good o' me.' 

Then some they rade, and some they ran, 

Out-owre the grass and bent ; 
But ere the foremost could win up, 

Baith lady and babes were brent. 

And after the Gordon he is gane, 

Sae fast as he might dri'e ; 
And soon i' the Gordon's foul heart's blude 

He 's wroken his fair ladye. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



ROMANTIC. 

Glasgerion. 

[Glasgerion, or Kurion the Pale, was a Celtic minstrel, whom Chaucer 
places in the company of such bards as ' blind Thamyris and blind Mae- 
onides.' This ballad exists in the Scotch version of GlenVindie (Jamieson, 
i. 93). It is here printed from Percy's Reliques, Bohn's Ed.] 

Glasgerion was a kings owne sonne, 

And a harper he was goode ; 
He harped in the kings chambere, 

Where cuppe and caudle stoode, 

And soe did hee in the queens chambere, 

Till ladies waxed glad, 
And then bespake the kinges daughter. 

And these wordes thus shee sayd : 

' Strike on, strike on, Glasgerion, 

Of thy striking doe not blinne ; 
Theres never a stroke comes oer thy harpe, 

But it glads my hart withinne.' 

' Faire might he fall,' quoth hee, 

' Who taught you nowe to speake ! 
I have loved you, ladye, seven longe ycere, 

My minde I neere durst breake.' 

' But come to my bower, my Glasgerion, 

When all men are att rest : 
As I am a ladie true of my promise, 

Thou shalt bee a welcome guest.' 

Home then came Glasgerion, 

A glad man, lord ! was hee : 
* And, come thou hither, Jacke my boy, 

Conic hither unto mcc. 



BALLADS. 2 1 9 

' For the kinges daughter of Normandye 

Hath granted mee my boone ; 
And att her chambere must I bee 

Beffore the cocke have crowen.' 

'O master, master,' then quoth hee, 
' Lay your head downe on this stone ; 

For I will waken you, master deere, 
Afore it be time to gone.' 

But up then rose that lither ladd, 

And hose and shoone did on ; 
A coller he cast upon his necke, 

He seemed a gentleman. 

And when he came to the ladyes chamber, 

He thrild upon a pinn : 
The lady was true of her promise, 

And rose and lett him inn. 

He did not take the lady gaye 

To boulster nor to bed : 
Nor thoughe hee had his wicked wille, 

A single word he sed. 

He did not kisse that ladyes mouthc. 

Nor when he came, nor yode : 
And sore that ladye did mistrust, 

He was of some churls bloud. 

But home then came that lither ladd. 

And did off his hose and shoone ; 
And cast the coller from off his necke : 

He was but a churles sonne. 

•Awake, awake, my deere master, 

The cock hath well-nigh crowen ; 
Awake, awake, my master deere, 

I hold it time to be gone. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



' For I have saddled your horse, master, 
Well bridled I have your steede, 

And I have served you a good breakfast, 
For thereof ye have need.' 

Up then rose good Glasgerion, 

And did on hose and shoone, 
And cast a coUer about his necke : 

For he was a kinge his sonne. 

And when he came to the ladyes chambere, 

He thrilled upon the pinne ; 
The lady was more than true of promise, 

And rose and let him inn. 

* O whether have you left with me 

Your bracelet or your glove ? 

Or are you returned back againe 

To know more of my love ?' 

Glasgerion swore a full great othe, 
By oake, and ashe, and thorne ; 

* Ladye, I was never in your chambere, 

Sith the time that I was borne.' 

* O then it was your lither foot-page. 

He hath beguiled mee :' 
Then shee pulled forth a little pen-kniffe, 
That hanged by her knee. 

Sayes, 'There shall never noe churles blood 

Within my bodye spring : 
No churlts blood shall eer defile 

The daughter of a kinge.' 

Home then went Glasgerion, 
And woe, good lord ! was hee : 

Sayes, 'Come thou hither, Jackc my boy, 
Come hither unto mee. 



BALLADS. 

' If I had killed a man to-night, 

Jacke, I would tell it thee : 
But if I have not killed a man to-night, 

Jacke, thou hast killed three.' 

And he puld out his bright browne sword, 

And diyed it on his sleeve. 
And he smote off that lither ladds head. 

Who did his ladye grieve. 

He sett the swords poynt till his brest, 

The pummil until a stone : 
Throw the falsenesse of that lither ladd, 

These three lives were all gone. 



The Douglas Tragedy. 

[This ballad exists in Denmark, and in other European countries. The 
Scotch have localised it, and point out Blackhouse, on the wild Douglas 
Burn, a tributary of the Yarrow, as the scene of the tragedy.] 

' Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas,' she says, 

'And put on your armour so bright ; 
Let it never be said, that a daughter of thine 

Was married to a lord under night. 

' Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons, 

And put on your armour so bright. 
And take better care of your youngest sister, 

For your eldest's awa the last night.' 

He 's mounted her on a milk-white steed. 

And himself on a dapple grey. 
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side, 

And lightly they rode away. 

Lord William lookit o'er is left shoulder. 

To see what he could see, 
And there he spy'd her seven brethren bold. 

Come riding over the lee. 



222 THE ENGLISH FOETS. 

' Light down, light down, Lady Marg'ret,' he said, 

And hold my steed in your hand. 
Until that against your seven brothers bold. 
And your father, I mak a stand.' 

She held his steed in her milk-white hand, 

And never shed one tear, 
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa', 

And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear. 

' O hold your hand, Lord William ! ' she said, 
' For your strokes they are wond'rous sair ; 

True lovers I can get many a ane. 
But a father I can never get main' 

O she 's ta'en out her handkerchief, 

It was o' the holland sae fine. 
And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds, 

That were redder than the wine. 

*0 chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg'ret,' he said, 

* O whether will ye gang or bide ?' 
'I'll gang, I'll gang. Lord William,' she said, 

' For ye have left me no other guide.' 

He's lifted her on a milk-white steed, 

And himself on a dapple grey. 
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side, 

And slowly they baith rade away. 

O they rade on, and on they rade. 

And a' by the light of the moon. 
Until they came to yon wan water. 

And there they lighted down. 

They lighted down to tak a drink 

Of the spring that ran sae clear ; 
And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood, 

And sair she gan to fear. 



BALLADS. 223 

' Hold up, hold up, Lord William,' she says, 
'For I fear that you are slain!' 

* 'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak, 

That shines in the water sae plain.' 

O they rade on, and on they rade, 

And a' by the light of the moon. 
Until they cam' to his mother's ha' door, 

And there they lighted down. 

* Get up, get up, lady mother,' he says, 

' Get up, and let me in ! — 
Get up, get up, lady mother,' he says, 
'For this night my fair ladye Fve win. 

* O mak my bed, lady mother,' he says, 

' O mak it braid and deep ! 
And lay Lady Marg'ret close at my back, 
And the sounder I will sleep.' 

Lord William was dead lang ere midnight, 

Lady Marg'ret lang ere day — ■ 
And all true lovers that go thegither, 

I\Iay they have mair luck than they ! 

Lord William was buried in St. Mary's kirk. 

Lady Margaret in IMary's quire ; 
Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose, 

And out o' the knight's a brier. 

And they twa met, and they twa plat. 

And fain they wad be near ; 
And a' the warld might ken right weel, 

They were twa lovers dear. 

But bye and rade the Black Douglas, 

And wow but he was rough ! 
For he pull'd up the bonny brier, 

And flang'd in St. Mary's loch. 



224 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Twa Corbies \ 

[An English version makes the lady faithful, — • 

' She lifted up his bloody head, 
And kissed his wounds that were so red ; 
She buried him before the prime, 
She was dead herself ere evensong time.'] 

As I was walking all alane, 

I heard twa corbies making a mane ; 

The tane unto the t'other say, 

' Where sail we gang and dine to-day ? ' 

' In behint yon auld fail dyke, 
I wot there lies a new-slain knight ; 
And nae body kens that he lies there, 
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair. 

' His hound is to the hunting gane, 
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame, 
His lady's ta'en another mate, 
So we may make our dinner sweet. 

' Ye '11 sit on his white hause bane, 
And I 'U pike out his bonny blue een : 
Wi' ae lock o' his govvden hair. 
We '11 thcek ^ our nest when it grows bare. 

' Mony a one for him makes mane. 
But nane sail ken whare he is gane ; 
O'er his white banes, when they are bare, 
The wind sail blaw for cvcrmair.' 

' crows. * thatch. 



BALLADS. 225 



Waly, Waly. 

[This fragment, variously corrupted, is often printed as part of a rather 
dull ballad, concerned with events in the history of Lord James Douglas, 
of the Laird of Blackwood, and of the lady who utters the beautiful lament 
here printed.] 

waly, waly, up the bank, 

waly, waly, doun the brae, 
And waly, waly, yon burn-side, 

Where I and my love were wont to gae ! 

1 lean'd my back unto an aik, 

1 thocht it was a trustie tree. 

But first it bow'd and syne it brak', — 
Sae my true love did lichtlie me. 

O waly, waly, but love be bonnie 

A little time while it is new ! 
But when it 's auld it waxeth cauld, 

And fadeth awa' like the morning dew. 
O wherefore should I busk my heid, 

Or wherefore should I kame my hair ? 
For my true love has me forsook, 

And says he '11 never lo'e me mair. 

Noo Arthur's Seat sail be my bed, 

The sheets sail ne'er be press'd by me ; 
Saint Anton's well sail be my drink ; 

Since my true love's forsaken me. 
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw, 

And shake the green leaves off the tree .' 
O gentle death, when wilt thou come .^ 

For of my life I am wearie. 

'Tis not the frost that freezes fell, 

Nor blawing snaw's inclemencie, 
'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry ; 

But my love's heart grown cauld to me. 
VOL. I. Q 



2 26 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

When we cam' in by Glasgow toun, 
We were a comely sicht to see ; 

My love was clad in the black velvet, 
An' I mysel' in cramasie. 

But had I wist before I kiss'd 

That love had been so ill to win, 
I'd lock'd my heart in a case o' goud, 

And pinn'd it wi' a siller pin. 
Oh, oh ! if my young babe were born, 

And set upon the nurse's knee ; 
And I mysel' were dead and gane, 

And the green grass growing over me ! 



SUPERNATURAL. 
Clerk S.\unders. 

Clerk Saunders and may Margaret 
Walked ower yon garden green ; 

And sad and heavy was the love 
That fell thir twa between. 

' A bed, a bed,' Clerk Saunders said, 
' A bed for you and me ! ' 

* Fye na, fye na,' said may Margaret, 

' Till anes we married be. 

* For in may come my seven bauld brothers, 

* Wi' torches burning bright ; 
They'll say — "We hae but ae sister, 
And behold she's wi' a knight !"' 

' Then I '11 take the sword frae my scabbard, 

And slowly lift the pin ; 
And you may swear, and safe your aith, 

Ye never let Clerk Saunders in. 



BALLADS. 2 2 

'And take a napkin in your hand, 

And tie up baith your bonny een ; 
And you may swear, and safe your aith, 

Ye saw me na since late yestreen.' 

It was about the midnight hour, 

When they asleep were laid, 
When in and came her seven brothers, 

Wi' torches burning red. 

When in and came her seven brothers, 

Wi' torches shining bright ; 
They said, *We hae but ae sister. 

And behold her lying with a knight !' 

Then out and spake the first o' them, 
' I bear the sword shall gar him die !' 

And out and spake the second o' them, 
' His father has nae mair than he !' 

And out and spake the third o' them, 

'I wot that they are lovers dear!' 
And out and spake the fourth o' them, 

'They hae been in love this mony a year!' 

Then out and spake the fifth o' them, 
'It were great sin true love to twain!' 

And out and spake the sixth o' them, 
'It were shame to slay a sleeping man!' 

Then up and gat the seventh o' them. 

And never a word spake he ; 
But he has striped his bright brown brand 

Out through Clerk Saunders' fair bodye. 

Clerk Saunders he started, and Margaret she turned 

Into his arms as asleep she lay ; 
And sad and silent was the night 

That was at ween thir twae. 

Q2 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And they lay still and sleeped sound, 

Until the day began to daw ; 
And kindly to him she did say, 

' It is time, true love, you were awa'.' 

But he lay still, and sleeped sound. 

Albeit the sun began to sheen ; 
She looked atween her and the wa', 

And dull and drowsie were his een. 

Then in and came her father dear, 

Said — ' Let a' your mourning be : 
I '11 carry the dead corpse to the clay, 

And I '11 come back and comfort thee.' 

' Comfort weel your seven sons ; 

For comforted will I never be : 
I ween 'twas neither knave nor loon 

Was in the bower last night wi' me.' 

The clinking bell gaed through the town. 
To carry the dead corse to the clay ; 

And Clerk Saunders stood at may Margaret's window, 
I wot, an hour before the day. 

'Are ye sleeping, Margaret?' he says. 

Or are ye waking presentlie .'' 
Give me my faith and troth again, 

I wot, true love, I gied to thee.' 

* Your faith and troth ye sail never get, 

Nor our true love sail never twin, 
Until ye come within my bower, 
And kiss me chcik and chin.' 

* My mouth it is full cold, Margaret, 

It has the smell, now, of the ground ; 
And if I kiss thy comely mouth. 
Thy days of life will not be lang'. 

' Al. Tliy (Jays will soon be at an end. 



I 



BALLADS. 

* O, cocks are crowing a merry midnight, 

I wot the wild fowls are boding day ; 
Give me my faith and troth again, 
And let me fare me on my way.' 

* Thy faith and troth thou sail na get, 

And our true love shall never twin, 
Until ye tell what comes of women, 
I wot, who die in strong traivelling ? ' 

' Their beds are made in the heavens high, 
Down at the foot of our good lord's knee, 

Weel set about wi' gillyflowers : 
I wot sweet company for to see. 

* O cocks are crowing a merry midnight, 

I wot the wild fowl are boding day ; 
The psalms of heaven will soon be sung. 
And I, ere now, will be missed away.' 

Then she has ta'en a crystal wand. 

And she has stroken her troth thereon ; 

She has given it him out at the shot-window, 
Wi' mony a sad sigh, and heavy groan. 

* I thank ye, Marg'ret ; I thank ye, MargVet ; 

And aye I thank ye heartilie ; 
Gin ever the dead come for the quick. 
Be sure, Marg'ret, I 'U come for thee.' 

It 's hosen and shoon, and gown alone. 
She climbed the wall, and followed him, 

Until she came to the green forest, 
And there she lost the sight o' him. 

* Is there ony room at your head, Saunders ? 

Is there ony room at your feet 1 

Or ony room at your side, Saunders, 

Where fain, fain, I wad sleep?' 



2 30 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' There 's nae room at my head, Marg'ret, 
There 's nae room at my feet ; 

My bed it is full lowly now : 
Amang the hungry worms I sleep. 

' Cauld mould is my covering now, 
But and my winding-sheet ; 

The dew it falls nae sooner down, 
Than my resting-place is weet. 

' But plait a wand o' bonnie birk, 

And lay it on my breast ; 
And shed a tear upon my grave, 

And wish my saul gude rest. 

'And fair Marg'ret, and rare Marg'ret, 

And Marg'ret o' veritie. 
Gin ere ye love another man, 

Ne'er love him as ye did me.' 

Then up and crew the milk-white cock, 
And up and crew the gray ; 

Her lover vanish'd in the air, 
And she gaed weeping away. 



The Wife of Usher's Well. 

[Sometimes printed as part of The Three Clerks o* Owsenford.] 

There lived a wife at Usher's Well, 

And a wealthy wife was she ; 
She had three stout and stalwart sons, 

And sent them o'er the sea. 

They hadna been a week from her, 

A week but barely ane, 
When word came to the carline wife, 

That her three sons were gane. 



BALLADS. 231 

They hadna been a week from her, 

A week but barely three, 
Whan word came to the carhne wife, 

That her sons she 'd never see. 

* I wish the wind may never cease, 

Nor fishes ^ in the flood, 
Till my three sons come hame to me, 

In earthly flesh and blood ! ' 

It fell about the Martinmas, 

When nights are lang and mirk. 
The carline wife's three sons came hame. 

And their hats were o' the birk. 

It neither grew in syke nor ditch, 

Nor yet in ony sheugh^; 
But at the gates o' Paradise, 

That birk grew fair eneugh. 

' Blow up the fire, my maidens ! 

Bring water from the well ! 
For a' my house shall feast this night, 

Since my three sons are well.' 

And she has made to them a bed, 

She 's made it large and wide ; 
And she's ta'en her mantle her about, 

Sat down at the bed-side. 
***** 
Up then crew the red red cock, 

And up and crew the gray ; 
The eldest to the youngest said, 

' 'Tis time we were away.' 

The cock he hadna craw'd but once, 

And clapp'd his wings at a'. 
When the youngest to the eldest said, 

' Brother, we must awa. 

* Ah -Nor fish be' (?' Nor freshets '). * trench. 



2 32 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' The cock doth craw, the day doth daw, 
The channerin' worm doth chide ; 

Gin we be mist out o' our place, 
A sair pain we maun bide. 

' Fare ye weel, my mother dear ! 

Fareweel to barn and byre ! 
And fare ye weel, the bonny lass, 

That kindles my mother's fire.' 
•«• * * * * 



A Lyke-Wake Dirge. 

[Contains popular beliefs common to Asiatic and European races, as to 
the trials of the Dead.] 

This ae nighte, this ae nighte, 

Every night and alle, 
Fire and sleet, and candle lighte, 

And Christe receive thy saule. 

When thou from hence away are paste, 

Every night and alle ; 
To Whinny-muir thou comest at laste ; 

And Christe receive thye saule. 

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon, 

Every night and alle ; 
Sit thee down, and put them on ; 

And Christe receive thye saule. 

If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gavest nane, 

Every night and alle : 
The whinnes shall pricke thee to the bare bane ; 

And Christe receive thye saule. 

From Whinny-muir when thou mayst passe, 

Every night and alle ; 
To Brigg o' Dread thou comest at laste ; J 

And Christe receive thye saule. ^ 

♦ **:;:* 



BALLADS. 233 

From Brigg o' Dread when thou mayst passe, 

Every night and alle ; 
To Purgatory fire thou comest at laste ; 

And Christe receive thye saule. 

If ever thou gavest meat or drink, 

Every night and alle ; 
The fire shall never make thee shrinke ; 

And Christe receive thye saule. 

If meate or drinke thou never gavest nane, 

Every night and alle ; 
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane ; 

And Christe receive thy saule. 

This ae nighte, this ae nighte, 

Every nighte and alle ; 
Fire and sleet, and candle lighte. 

And Christe receive thye saule. 



A SONG OF THE SCOTCH MARCHES. 
KiNMONT Willie. 

[The events here reported occurred in 1596. The ballad is the best 
example of those which treat of rescues, and lawless exploits in the debate- 
able land.] 

O have ye na heard o' the fause Sakelde ? 

O have ye na heard o' the keen Lord Scroop ? 
How they hae ta'en bauld Kinmont Willie, 

On Hairibee to hang him up? 

Had Willie had but twenty men, 

But twenty men as stout as he, 
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont ta'en, 

Wi' eight score in his cumpanie. 



2 34 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

They band his legs beneath the steed, 
They tied his hands behind his back ; 

They guarded him, fivesome on each side, 
And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack. 

They led him thro' the Liddel-rack, 

And also thro' the Carlisle sands 
They brought him to Carlisle castell, 

To be at my Lord Scroop's commands. 

' My hands are tied, but my tongue is free, 
And whae will dare this deed avow ? 

Or answer by the border law ? 

Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch !' 

' Now baud thy tongue, thou rank reiver ! 

There 's never a Scot shall set ye free : 
Before ye cross my castle yate, 

I trow ye shall take farewell o' me.' 

' Fear na ye that, my lord,' quo' Willie : 

' By the faith o' my body. Lord Scroop,' he said, 

' I never yet lodged in a hostelrie. 
But I paid my lawing before I gaed.' 

Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper, 
In Branksome Ha', where that he lay, 

That Lord Scroop has ta'en the Kinmont Willie, 
Between the hours of night and day. 

He has ta'en the table wi' his hand. 
He garr'd the red wine spring on hie — • 

' Now Christ's curse on my head,' he said, 
' But avenged of Lord Scroop I '11 be ! 

' O is my basnet ^ a widow's curch ^ ? 

Or my lance a wand of the willow tree ? 
Or my arm a ladye's lilye hand. 

That an English lord should lightly me ! 

' helmet. * coif. 



\ 



BALLADS. 235 

'And have they ta'en him, Kinmont Willie, 

Against the truCe of border tide ? 
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch 

Is Keeper here on the Scottish side? 

'And have they e'en ta'en him, Kinmont Willie, 

Withouten either dread or fear ? 
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch 

Can back a steed, or shake a spear? 

'O were there war between the lands, 

As well I wot that there is none, 
I would slight Carlisle castell high, 

Tho' it were builded of marble stone. 

' I would set that castell in a low \ 

And sloken it with Enghsh blood ! 
There 's nevir a man in Cumberland, 

Should ken where Carlisle castell stood. 

' But since nae war 's between the lands, 
And there is peace, and peace should be ; 

I '11 neither harm English lad nor lass, 
And yet the Kinmont freed shall be !' 

He has call'd him forty marchmen bauld, 

I trow they were of his ain name, 
Except Sir Gilbert Elliot call'd. 

The laird of Stobs, I mean the same. 

He has call'd him forty marchmen bauld. 

Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch ; 
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld'^, 

And gleuves of green, and feathers blue. 

There were five and five before them a', 

Wi' hunting horns and bugles bright ; 
And five and five came wi' Buccleuch, 

Like warden's men, arrayed for fight : 

* flame. " armour on shoulder. 



236 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And five and five, like a mason gang, 
That carried the ladders lang and hie ; 

And five and five, like broken men ; 

And so they reached the Woodhouselee. 

And as we cross'd the Bateable Land, 
When to the EngHsh side we held, 

The first o' men that we met wi', 
Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde ? 

* Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen ? ' 
Quo' fause Sakelde ; ' come tell to me ! ' 

*We go to hunt an English stag, 

Has trespassed on the Scots countrie.' 

' Where be ye gaun, ye marshal men ? ' 
Quo' fause Sakelde ; ' come tell me true ! ' 

'We go to catch a rank reiver, 

Has broken faith wi' the bauld Buccleuch.' 

' Where are ye gaun, ye mason lads, 
Wi' a' your ladders, lang and hie ? ' 

*We gang to herry a corbie's nest. 
That wons not far frae Woodhouselee.' 

'Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?' 
Quo' fause Sakelde ; 'come tell to me !' 

Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band. 
And the never a word o' lear had he. 

' Why trespass ye on the English side ? 

Row-footed outlaws, stand!' quo' he; 
The never a word had Dickie to say, 

Sae he thrust the lance through his fause bodie 

Then on we held for Carlisle toun. 

And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we cross'd ; 

The water was great and meikle of spait, 
liut the nevir a horse nor man we lost. 



BALLADS. 237 

And when we reached the Staneshaw-bank, 

The wind was rising loud and hie ; 
And there the laird garr'd leave our steeds, 

For fear that they should stamp and nie. 

And when we left the Staneshaw-bank, 

The wind began full loud to blaw, 
But 'twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet, 

When we came beneath the castle wa'. 

We crept on knees, and held our breath, 
Till we placed the ladders against the wa' ; 

And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell 
To mount the first, before us a'. 

He has ta'en the watchman by the throat, 

He flung him down upon the lead — 
' Had there not been peace between our land, 

' Upon the other side thou hadst gaed ! — 

'Now sound out, trumpets !' quo' Buccleuch ; 

'Let's waken Lord Scroop, right merrilie !' 
Then loud the warden's trumpet blew — 

'' O wha dare vieddle wV tne?' 

Then speedilie to work we gaed, 

And raised the slogan ane and a', 
And cut a hole thro' a sheet of lead, 

And so we wan to the castle ha'. 

They thought King James and a' his men 

Had won the house wi' bow and spear ; 
It was but twenty Scots and ten. 

That put a thousand in sic a stear ! 

Wi' coulters, and wi' fore-hammers, 

We garr'd the bars bang merrilie, 
Untill we cam to the inner prison, 

Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie. 



238 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And when we cam to the lower prison, 
Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie — 

' O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie, 
Upon the morn that thou 's to die ?' 

' O I sleep saft, and I wake aft ; 

Its lang since sleeping was fleyed frae me ! 
Gie my service back to my wife and bairns. 

And a' gude fellows that spier for me.' 

Then Red Rowan has hente him up, 
The starkest man in Teviotdale — 

' Abide, abide now, Red Rowan, 

Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell. 

* Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope ! 

My gude Lord Scroope, farewell ! ' he cried- 
' I '11 pay you for my lodging maill ^, 
When first we meet on the border side.' 

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry. 
We bore him down the ladder lang ; 

At every stride Red Rowan made, 

I wot the Kinmont's aims played clang ! 

' O mony a time,' quo' Kinmont Willie, 
I have ridden horse baith wild and wood ; 

But a rougher beast than Red Rowan, 
I ween my legs have ne'er bestrode. 

* O mony a time,' quo' Kinmont Willie, 

' I've pricked a horse out oure the furs^; 
But since the day I backed a steed, 
I never wore sic cumbrous spurs !' 

We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank, 
When a' the Carlisle bells were rung. 

And a thousand men, in horse and foot. 
Cam wi' the keen Lord Scroope along. 

' rent. ^ furrows. 



BALLADS. 239 



Euccleuch has turned to Eden water, 
Even where it flowed frae bank to brim, 

And he has plunged in wi' a' his band. 
And safely swam them thro' the stream. 

He turned him on the other side, 
And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he- 

'If ye like na my visit in merry England, 
In fair Scotland come visit me!' 



All sore astonished stood Lord Scroope, 
He stood as still as rock of stane ; 

He scarcely dared to trew his eyes, 
When thro' the water they had gane. 

' He is either himself a devil frae hell, 
Or else his mother a witch maun be ; 

I wad na ha ridden that wan water, 
For a' the gowd in Christentie.' 



ROBIN HOOD BALLADS. 
Robin Hood rescuing the Widow's Three Sons. 

There are twelve months in all the year, 

As I hear many say. 
But the merriest month in all the year 

Is the merry month of May. 

Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone, 

With a link a down, and a day, 
And there he met a silly old woman. 

Was weeping on the way. 

' What news ? what news ? thou silly old woman, 

What news hast thou for me ?' 
Said she, ' There 's my three sons in Nottingham town 

To-day condemned to die.' 



2 40 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' O, have they parishes burnt ?' he said, 

' Or have they ministers slain ? 
Or have they robbed any virgin ? 

Or other men's wives have ta'en ?' 

' They have no parishes burnt, good sir, 

Nor yet have ministers slain. 
Nor have they robbed any virgin, 

Nor other men's wives have ta'en.' 

' O, what have they done ?' said Robin Hood, 

' I pray thee tell to me.' 
' It 's for slaying of the king's fallow deer. 

Bearing their long bows with thee.' 

'Dost thou not mind, old woman,' he said, 
' How thou madest me sup and dine ? 

By the truth of my body,' quoth bold Robin Hood, 
'You could not tell it in better time.' 

Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone. 
With a link a down, and a day, 

And there he met with a silly old palmer. 
Was walking along the highway. 

' What news ? what news ? thou silly old man. 

What news, I do thee pray ? ' 
Said he, 'Three squires in Nottingham town 

Are condemn'd to die this day.' 

•Come change thy apparel with me, old man, 
Come change thy apparel for mine ; 

Here is ten shillings in good silvc;r, 
Go drink it in beer or wine.' 

'O, thine apparel is good,' he said, 

'And mine is ragged and torn ; 
Wherever you go, wherever you ride, 

Laugh not an old man to scorn.' 



BALLADS. 241 

' Come change thy apparel with me, old churl, 

Come change thy apparel with mine ; 
Here is a piece of good broad gold, 

Go feast thy brethren with wine.' 

Then he put on the old man's hat, 

It stood full high on the crown : 
'The first bold bargain that I come at, 

It shall make thee come down.' 

Then he put on the old man's cloak. 

Was patch'd black, blue, and red ; 
He thought it no shame, all the day long, 

To wear the bags of bread. 

Then he put on the old man's breeks. 

Was patch'd from leg to side : 
' By the truth of my body,' bold Robin can say, 

*This man loved little pride.' 

Then he put on the old man's hose. 

Were patch'd from knee to wrist : 
*By the truth of my body,' said bold Robin Hood, 

' I 'd laugh if I had any list.' 

Then he put on the old man's shoes, 
Were patch'd both beneath and aboon ; 

Then Robin Hood swore a solemn oath, 
'It's good habit that makes a man.' 

Now Robin Hood is to Nottingham gone. 

With a link a down and a down., 
And there he met with the proud sheriff, 

Was walking along the town. 

* Save you, save you, sheriff ! ' he said ; 

' Now heaven you save and see ! 
And what will you give to a silly old man 
To-day will your hangman be?' 
VOL. I. R 



2 42 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' Some suits, some suits,' the sheriff he said, 

' Some suits I '11 give to thee ; 
Some suits, some suits, and pence thirteen. 

To-day 's a hangman's fee.' 

Then Robin he turns him round about, 
And jumps from stock to stone : 

*By the truth of my body,' the sheriff he said, 
' That 's well jumpt, thou nimble old man.' 

* I was ne'er a hangman in all my life, 

Nor yet intends to trade ; 
But curst be he,' said bold Robin, 
' That first a hangman was made ! 

* I 've a bag for meal, and a bag for malt. 

And a bag for barley and corn ; 
A bag for bread, and a bag for beef, 
And a bag for my little small horn. 

* I have a horn in my pocket, 

I got it from Robin Hood, 
And still when I set it to my mouth, 
For thee it blows little good.' 

' O, wind thy horn, thou proud fellow ! 

Of thee I have no doubt. 
I wish that thou give such a blast, 

Till both thy eyes fall out.' 

The first loud blast that he did blow. 

He blew both loud and shrill ; 
A hundred and fifty of Robin Hood's men 

Came riding over the hill. 

The next loud blast that he did give, 

He blew both loud and amain, 
And quickly sixty of Robin Hood's men 

Came shining over the plain. 



BALLADS. 243 

* O, who are these,' the sheriff he said, 

'Come tripping over the lee?' 
' They 're my attendants,' brave Robin did say ; 

' They '11 pay a visit to thee.' 

They took the gallows from the slack, 

They set it in the glen. 
They hanged the proud sheriff on that, 

Released their own three men. 



Robin Hood's Death and Burial. 

[The close of this ballad singularly resembles a Romaic song on the 
death of a famous klepht, or brigand, in Fauriel's collection.] 

When Robin Hood and Little John, 

Down a dowjt, a down, a down, 
Went o'er yon bank of broom, 
Said Robin Hood to Little John, 

* We have shot for many a pound : 

Hey down, a dowtt, a down. ^ 

•But I am not able to shoot one shot more, 

My arrows will not flee ; 
But I have a cousin lives down below, 

Please God, she will bleed me.' 

Now Robin is to fair Kirkley gone, 

As fast as he can win ; 
But before he came there, as we do hear, 

He was taken very ill. 

And when that he came to fair Kirkley -hall, 

He knock'd all at the ring, 
But none was so ready as his cousin herself 

For to let bold Robin in. 

* Will you please to sit down, cousin Robin,' she said, 

* And drink some beer with me .'' 
' No, I will neither eat nor drink 

Till I am blooded by thee.' 

R2 



244 ^^^ ENGLISH POETS. 

' Well, I have a room, cousin Robin,' she said, 

'Which you did never see, 
And if you please to walk therein, 

You blooded by me shall be.' 

She took him by the lily-white hand, 
And led him to a private room, 

And there she blooded bold Robin Hood, 
Whilst one drop of blood would run. 

She blooded him in the vein of the arm. 
And locked him up in the room ; 

There did he bleed all the live-long day, 
Until the next day at noon. 

He then bethought him of a casement door, 

Thinking for to be gone ; 
He was so weak he could not leap. 

Nor he could not get down. 

He then bethought him of his bugle-horn, 
Which hung low down to his knee ; 

He set his horn unto his mouth, 
And blew out weak blasts three. 

Then Little John, when hearing him, 

As he sat under the tree, 
'I fear my master is near dead. 

He blows so wearily.' 

Then Little John to fair Kirkley is gone, 

As fast as he can dri'e ; 
But when he came to Kirkley-hall, 

He broke locks two or three : 

Until he came bold Robin to, 

Then he fell on his knee : 
*A boon, a boon,' cries Little John, 

* Master, I beg of thee.' 



BALLADS. 245 

' What is that boon,' quoth Robin Hood, 
'Little John, thou begs of me?' 

* It is to bum fair Kirkley-hall, 

And all their nunnery.' 

' Now nay, now nay,' quoth Robin Hood, 

* That boon I '11 not grant thee ; 
I never hurt woman in all my life, 

Nor man in woman's company. 

* I never hurt fair maid in all my time, 

Nor at my end shall it be ; 
But give me my bent bow in my hand, 

And a broad arrow I '11 let flee ; 
And where this arrow is taken up. 

There shall my grave digg'd be. 

* Lay me a green sod under my head. 

And another at my feet ; 
And lay my bent bow by my side. 

Which was my music sweet ; 
And make my grave of gravel and green, 

Which is most right and meet. 

' Let me have length and breadth enough, 

With a green sod under my head ; 
That they may say, when I am dead, 

Here Hes bold Robin Hood.' 

These words they readily promis'd him. 

Which did bold Robin please ; 
And there they buried bold Robin Hood, 

Near to the fair Kirkleys. 



246 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



DOMESTIC. 

The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington. 

There was a yout?ie, and a well-beloved youthe, 

And he was a squires son ; 
He loved the bayliffes daughter deare, 

That lived in Islington. 

Yet she was coye, and would not believe 

That he did love her soe, 
Noe nor at any time would she 

Any countenance to him showe. 

But when his friendes did understand 

His fond and foolish minde, 
They sent him up to faire London, 

An apprentice for to binde. 

And when he had been seven long yeares, 

And never his love could see, — 
* Many a teare have I shed for her sake, 

When she little thought of mee.' 

Then all the maids of Islington 

Went forth to sport and playe, 
All but the bayliffes daughter deare ; 

She secretly stole awaye. 

She pulled off her gowne of grecne, 

And put on ragged attire, 
And to faire London she would go 

Her true love to enquire. 

As as she went along the high road, 
The weather being hot and drye, 

She sat her downe upon a green bank, 
And her true love came riding bye. 



BALLADS. 247 

She started up, with a colour soe redd, 

Catching hold of his bridle-reine ; 
' One penny, one penny, kind sir,' she sayd, 

'Will ease me of much paine.' 

'Before I give you one penny, sweet-heart, 

Praye tell me where you were borne.' 
'At Islington, kind sir,' sayd shee, 

'Where I have had many a scorne.' 

* I prythee, sweet-heart, then tell to mee, 

O tell me, whether you knowe 
The baylififes daughter of Islington.' 

'She is dead, sir, long agoe.' 

' If she be dead, then take my horse. 

My saddle and bridle also ; 
For I will into some farr countrye, 

Where noe man shall me knowe.' 

♦O staye, O staye, thou goodlye youthe, 

She standeth by thy side ; 
She is here alive, she is not dead, 

And readye to be thy bride.' 

' O farewell griefe, and welcome joye. 

Ten thousand times therefore ; 
For nowe I have founde mine owne true love. 

Whom I thought I shoilld never see more.' 



SIR THOMAS WYATT. 



[Thomas Wyatt, the eldest son of Sir Henry Wyatt, a baronet of ancient 
family, was bom at Allington Castle, in Kent, in 1503. In the Court of 
Henry VIII he soon became a conspicuous figure, famous for his wit, his 
learning, his poetical talents, his linguistic attainments, his skill in athletic 
exercises, his fascinating manners and his handsome person. Frota a 
courtier he developed into a statesman and a diplomatist, and in the duties 
incident to statesmanship and diplomacy most of his life was passed. He 
died at Sherborne, while on his road to Falmouth, and was buried there 
October nth, 1542. His poems were first printed in Tottel's Miscellany in 
1557-] 

Wyatt and Surrey are usually classed together — ^ar nobile 
fratruni — the Dioscuri of the Dawn. They inaugurated that im- 
portant period in our literature known as the Era of Italian 
Influence, or that of the Company of Courtly Makers — the period 
which immediately preceded and ushered in the age of Spenser 
and Shakespeare. With some of the characteristics of expiring 
medirevalism still lingering about them, the prevailing spirit of 
their poetry is the spirit of the Renaissance, — not its colour, not 
its exuberance, not its intoxication ; but its classicism, its harmony, 
and its appreciation of form. With the writings of Virgil, Martial 
and Seneca, in ancient, and with the writings of Petrarch and 
his school in modem times, they were evidently familiar, and 
they have as evidently made them their models. The influence 
of that school is indeed manifest in almost everything these poets 
have left us, sometimes directly in translations, in professed imi- 
tation, in turns of expression, still oftener indirectly in tone, form 
and style : but they owed more to the Italy of the fourteenth than 
to the Italy of the first century. To Wyatt and Surrey our debt is 
a great one. They introduced and naturalised the Sonnet, both 
the Sonnet of the true Petrarchian type and the Sonnet which was 
afterwards carried to such perfection in the hands of Shakespeare 



IVYATT. 249 

and Daniel. In Surrey we find the first germ of the BucoHc 
Eclogue. In Wyatt we have our first classical satirist. Of our 
lyrical poetry they were the founders. Their tone, their style, 
their rhythm, their measures, were at once adopted by a school 
of disciples, and have ever since maintained their popularity 
among poets. In their lyrics indeed is to be found the seed of 
everything that is most charming in the form of Jonson and Her- 
rick, of Waller and Suckling, of Cowley and Prior. They gave 
us — but this is the glory of Surrey alone — the first specimens of 
blank verse that our language can boast. They were the creators of 
that majestic measure the heroic quatrain. They enriched diction 
with fulness and involution. They were the first of our poets 
who had learned the great secret of transfusing the spirit of one 
language into that of another, who had the good taste to select the 
best models and the good sense to adhere to them. They gave the 
deathblow to that rudeness, that grotesqueness, that prolixity, that 
diffuseness, that pedantry, which had deformed with fatal persist- 
ency the poetry of mediasvalism, and while they purified our 
language from the Gallicisms of Chaucer and his followers, they 
fixed the permanent standard of our versification. To them we 
are indebted for the great reform which substituted a metrical 
for a rhythmical structure. Their services to our literature may 
at once be reaUsed by comparing their work with that of their 
immediate predecessors, and by observing its influence on the 
writers in the four Miscellanies which appeared between 1557 
and the publication of Englajid''s Helicon in 1600. Indeed these 
interesting men stand in much the same relation to the poetical 
hterature of England as Boscan and Garcilaso de la Vega stand 
to the poetical literature of Castile. 

It is unfortunately not possible to decide how far these two 
poets acted and re-acted on each other. We are however in- 
clined to think that Wyatt was the master-spirit, and that Surrey 
has been enabled to throw him so completely and so unfairly into 
the shade, mainly because he had his friend's patterns to work 
upon. Wyatt was his senior by at least fourteen years, and 
Wyatt's poems, if we except at least the Satires and the Peni- 
tential Psalms, were in all probability early works. 

The poems of Wyatt consist of Sonnets, Lyrics in all varieties 
of measure, Rondeaux, Epigrams, Satires, and a poetical para- 
phrase of the Penitential Psalms. His genius is essentially 
imitative. His Sonnets are either direct translations or servile 



250 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

imitations of Petrarch's. Of his lyrics some are borrowed from 
the Spanish, some from the French, some from the ItaHan ; all, 
with the exception of half a dozen perhaps, are more or less 
modelled on writings in those languages. What we call his 
Epigrams are for the most part versions from the Strambotti of 
Serafino d' Aquila. One of his Satires is an abridged imitation 
of the Tenth Satire of Alamanni, the other two were respectively 
suggested by Horace and Persius. Even in his version of the 
Penitential Psalms he was careful to follow in the footsteps of 
Dante and Alamanni. The dignity and gravity which characterise 
the structure of some of his lyric periods appear to have been 
caught from the poets of Castile. His general tone is sombre, 
sententious and serious, and he is too often reflecting when he 
ought to be feeling. The greater part of his poetry is wasted in 
describing with weary minuteness transports of slighted and 
requited affection, but his true place is among observant men of 
the world, scholars and moralists. His versification is often harsh 
and uncouth, except in some of his lyrics, which are occasionally 
very musical, and in his Satires, which are uniformly terse and 
smooth. He is inferior to Surrey in diction, in taste, in origin- 
ality, and in poetical feeling ; but it may be doubted whether the 
more delicate genius of the younger poet would have been able to 
achieve so complete a triumph over the mechanism of expression 
had he not been preceded by his robuster brother. 

J, Churton Collins. 



K 



IVVA TT. 



251 



[The lover having dreamed enjoying of his love, complaineth that the 
dream is not either longer or truer.] 

Unstable dream, according to the place, 
Be steadfast once, or else at least be true : 
By tasted sweetness make me not to rue 
The sudden loss of thy false feigned grace. 
By good respect, in such a dangerous case, 
Thou broughtest not her into these tossing seas ; 
But madest my sprite to live, my care to encrease. 
My body in tempest her delight to embrace. 
The body dead, the spirit had his desire ; 
Painless was the one, the other in delight. 
Why then, alas, did it not keep it right, 
But thus return to leap into the fire ; 

And when it was at wish, could not remain ? 

Such mocks of dreams do turn to deadly pain. 



[The lover heseecheth his mistress not to forget his stedfast faith 
and true intent ] 

Forget not yet the tried intent 
Of such a truth as I have meant ; 
My great travail so gladly spent, 
Forget not yet ! 

Forget not yet when first began 
The weary life ye know, since whan 
The suit, the service none tell can ; 
Forget not yet ! 

Forget not yet the great assays, 
The cruel wrong, the scornful ways, 
The painful patience in delays, 
Forget not yet ! 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Forget not ! oh ! forget not this, 
How long ago hath been, and is 
The mind that never meant amiss. 
Forget not yet ! 

Forget not then thine own approved, 
The which so long hath thee so loved, 
Whose steadfast faith yet never moved : 
Forget not yet ! 



[The lover complaineth of the unkindness of his love.] 

My lute, awake ! perform the last 
Labour that thou and I shall waste ; 
And end that I have now begun : 
And when this song is sung and past, 
My lute ! be still, for I have done. 

As to be heard where ear is none ; 
As lead to grave in marble stone, 
My song may pierce her heart as soon ; 
Should we then sing, or sigh, or moan ? 
No, no, my lute ! for I have done. 

The rock doth not so cruelly, 
Repulse the waves continually, 
As she my suit and affection : 
So that I am past remedy ; 
Whereby my lute and I have done. 

Proud of the spoil that thou hast got 
Of simple hearts thorough Love's shot. 
By whom, unkind, thou hast them won ; 
Think not he hath his bow forgot. 
Although my lute and 1 have done. 

Vengeance shall fall on thy disdain. 
That makest but game of earnest pain ; 
Trow not alone under the sun 
Unquit to cause thy lovers plain. 
Although my lute and I have done. 



May chance thee lie withered and old 
In winter nights, that are so cold, 
Plaining in vain unto the moon ; 
Thy wishes then dare not be told : 
Care then who list, for I have done. 

And then may chance thee to repent 
The time that thou hast lost and spent, 
To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon : 
Then shalt thou know beauty but lent, 
And wish and want, as I have done. 

Now cease, my lute ! This is the last 
Labour that thou and I shall waste ; 
And ended is that we begun : 
Now is thy song both sung and past ; 
My lute, be still, for I have done. 



On his Return froim Spain. 

Tagus farewell ! that westward with thy streams 
Tunis up the grains of gold already tried ; 
For I with spur and sail go seek the Thames 
Gainward the sun that showeth her wealthy pride. 
And to the town that Brutus sought by dreams, 
Like bended moon that leans her lusty side ; 
My king, my country alone for whom I live, 
Of mighty Love the winds for this me give ^ ! 



From the second Satire. 

My Poins, I cannot frame my tongue to feign, 
To cloak the truth for praise without desert 
Of them that list all vices to retain. 
I cannot honour them that set their part 

* Al. My king, my country, I seek, for whom I live; 
O mighty Jove, the winds for this me give! 



253 



2 54 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

With Venus, and Bacchus, all their life long, 

Nor hold my peace of them although I smart. 

I cannot crouch nor truckle to such a wrong. 

To worship them like God on earth alone 

That are as wolves these sely lambs among. 

I cannot with my words complain and moan, 

And suffer nought ; nor smart without complaint, 

Nor turn the word that from my mouth has gone. 

I cannot speak and look like as a saint, 

Use wiles for wit and make deceit a pleasure. 

Call craft counsel, for lucre still to paint ; 

I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer. 

With innocent blood to feed myself fat 

And do most hurt where that most help I offer. 

I am not he that can allow the state 

Of high Caesar, and damn Cato to die. 

That by his death did scape out of the gate 

From Caesar's hands, if Livy doth not lie, 

And would not live where Liberty was lost; 

So did his heart the common wealth apply. 

I am not he, such eloquence to boast 

To make the crow in singing as the swan ; 

Nor call the lion of coward beasts the most, 

That cannot take a mouse as the cat can : 

And he that dieth for hunger of the gold, 

Call him Alexander, and say that Pan 

Passeth Apollo in music manifold. 

Praise Sir Topas for a noble tale 

And scorn the story that the Knight told ; 

Praise him for counsel that is drunk of ale ; 

Grin when he laughs, that beareth all the sway ; 

Frown when he frowns, and groan when he is pale 

On other's lust to hang both night and day. 

None of these points could ever frame in me ; 

My wit is nought, I cannot learn the way. 



I 



THE EARL OF SURREY. 



[Henry Howard was the eldest son of Thomas Earl of Surrey, by his 
second wife, the Lady Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Edward Stafford, 
Duke of Buckingham. The date and place of his birth are alike unknown. 
It probably occurred in 1517. He became Earl of Surrey on the accession 
of his father to the dukedom of Norfolk in 1524. The incidents of his 
early life are buried in obscurity ; the incidents of his later life rest on 
evidence rarely trustworthy and frequently apocryphal. He was beheaded 
on Tower Hill January 21, 1547, nominally on a charge of high treason, 
really in consequence of having fallen a victim to a Court intrigue, the 
particulars of which it is now impossible to unravel. With regard to the 
chronology of his various poems we have nothing to guide us. Though 
they were extensively circulated in manuscript during his lifetime, they 
were not printed till June 1557, when they made their appearance, together 
with Wyatt's poems and several fugitive pieces by other authors, in Tottel's 
Miscellany.'] 

The works of Surrey, though not so numerous as those of his 
friend Wyatt, are of a very varied character. They consist of son- 
nets, of miscellaneous poems in different measures, of lyrics, of 
elegies, of translations, of Scriptural paraphrases, of two long ver- 
sions from Virgil. The distinctive feature of Surrey's genius is its 
ductility ; its characteristic qualities are grace, vivacity, pathos, 
picturesqueness. He had the temperament of a true poet, refine- 
ment, sensibility, a keen eye for the beauties of nature, a quick 
and lively imagination, great natural powers of expression. His 
tone is pure and lofty, and his whole writings breathe that chivalrous 
spirit which still lingered among the satellites of the eighth Henry. 
His diction is chaste and perspicuous, and though it bears all the 
marks of careful elaboration it has no trace of stiffness or pedantry. 
His verse is so smooth, and at times so delicately musical, that 
Warton questioned whether in these qualities at least our versifica- 
tion has advanced since Surrey tuned it for the first time. Without 
the learning of Wyatt, his literary skill is far greater. His taste is 



256 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

exquisite. His love poetry, which is distinguished by touches of 
genuine feehng, is modelled for the most part on the Sonnetti and 
Ballati of Petrarch, though it has little of Petrarch's frigid puerility 
and none of his metaphysical extravagance. The Laura of Surrey 
is the fair Geraldine. We may perhaps suspect the existence of 
some less shadowy object. As a lyrical poet, when he permits 
himself to follow his own bent he is easy and graceful. His elegiac 
verses and his epitaph on Clere have been deservedly praised for 
their pathos, dignity, and terseness, and his translation from Martial 
makes us regret that he has not left us more in the same vein. His 
versions from Virgil we are not inclined to rank so highly as Warton 
does, but they are interesting as being the first Eitglish versions 
from the poets of antiquity worthy of the name, and as furnishing 
us with the earliest specimens of that verse which was to become 
the omnipotent instrument of Shakespeare and Milton. As a son- 
neteer he follows closely in the footsteps of Petrarch, though he is 
not, like Wyatt, a servile copyist, and he is entitled to the high 
praise of being not only the first who introduced the sonnet into 
our language, but of having made that difficult form of composition 
the obedient interpreter of a poet's feelings and of a poet's fancies. 
His most unsuccessful pieces are his Scriptural paraphrases and 
the poems written in Alexandrines, though one of these. The Com- 
plaint of a Dying Lover, is valuable as being, next to Henryson's 
Robine and Makyne, the first pastoral poem in British literature. 

J. Churton Collins. 



EARL OF SURREY. 257 



Description of Spring, 

[Wherein each thing renews, save only the lover.] 

The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings, 

With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale. 

The nightingale with feathers new she sings ; 

The turtle to her make^ hath told her tale. 

Summer is come, for every spray now springs, 

The hart hath hung his old head on the pale ; 

The buck in brake his winter coat he slings ; 

The fishes flete with new repaired scale ; 

The adder all her slough away she slings ; 

The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale ; 

The busy bee her honey now she mings'^ ; 

Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale. 
And thus I see among these pleasant things 
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs ! 



A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved. 

Alas ! so all things now do hold their peace ! 
Heaven and earth disturbed in no thing ; 
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease ; 
The nightes car the stars about doth bring. 
Calm is the sea ; the waves work less and less : 
So am not I, whom love, alas ! doth wring, 
Bringing before my face the great increase 
Of my desires, whereat I weep and sing. 
In joy and woe, as in a doubtful ease. 
For my sweet thoughts sometime do pleasure bring ; 
But by and by, the cause of my disease 
Gives me a pang, that inwardly doth sting. 
When that I think what grief it is again, 
To live and lack the thing should rid my pain. 

' mate. ^ mingles. 

VOL I. S 



258 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



[Prisoned in Windsor, he recounteth his pleasure there passed.] 

So cruel prison how could betide, alas, 

As proud Windsor? where I in lust and joy, 

With a King's son, my childish years did pass, 

In greater feast than Priam's sons of Troy. 

Where each sweet place returns a taste full sour. 

The large green courts, where we were wont to hove', 

With eyes cast up into the maiden's tower, 

And easy sighs, such as folk draw in love. 

The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue. 

The dances short, long tales of great delight ; 

With words and looks, that tigers could but rue ; 

When each of us did plead the other's right. 

The palme-pIay^ where, despoiled for the game. 

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love 

Have missed the ball, and got sight of our dame. 

To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above. 

The gravelled ground, with sleeves tied on the helm, 

On foaming horse, with swords and friendly hearts ; 

With cheer, as though one should another whelm, 

When we have fought, and chased oft with darts ; 

With silver drops the mead yet spread for ruth. 

In active games of nimbleness and strength, 

Where we did strain, trained with swarms of youth, 

Our tender limbs, that yet shot up in length. 

The secret groves, which oft we made resound 

Of pleasant plaint, and of our ladies' praise ; 

Recording oft what grace each one had found. 

What hope of speed, what dread of long delays. 

The wild forest, the clothed holts with green ; 

With reins availed, and swift ybreathed horse, 

With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between, 

When we did chase the fearful hart of force. 

The void walls eke, that harboured us each night : 

Wherewith, alas ! reviveth in my breast 

The sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight ; 

The plcaiiant dreams, the quiet bed of rest ; — 

* hover. * tennis. 



\ 



EARL OF SURREY. 259 

The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust ; 
The wanton talk, the divers change of play ; 
The friendship sworn, each promise kept so just, 
Wherewith we passed the winter night away. 
And with this thought the blood forsakes the face ; 
The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue : 
The which, as soon as sobbing sighs, alas ! 
Upsupped have, thus I my plaint renew : 
' O place of bliss, renewer of my woes ! 
Give me account, where is my noble fere^, 
Whom in thy walls thou dost each night enclose, 
To other lief'^, but unto me most dear.' 
Echo, alas ! that doth my sorrow rue 
Returns thereat a hollow sound of plaint. 
Thus I alone, where all my freedom grew, 
In prison pine, with bondage and restraint ; 
And with remembrance of the greater grief. 
To banish the less, I find my chief relief. 

The Means to Attain Happy Life. 

[Translated from Martial.] 
Martial, the things that do attain 

The happy life be these, I find ; 
The riches left, not got with pain ; 

The fruitful ground, the quiet mind. 
The equal friend, no grudge, no strife, 

No charge of rule nor governance ; 
Without disease, the healthful life ; 

The household of continuance. 
The mean ^ diet, no delicate fare ; 

True wisdom joined with simpleness ; 
The night discharged of all care. 

Where wine the wit may not oppress. 
The faithful wife, without debate ; 

Such sleeps as may beguile the night ; 
Contented with thine own estate, 

Ne wish for death, ne fear his might. 
^ companion. ^ dear. ' moderate. 

S2 



2 6o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A Praise of his Love. 

[Wherein he reproveth them that compare their ladies with his.] 

Give place, ye lovers, here before 

That spent your boasts and brags in vain ; 

My lady's beauty passeth more 

The best of yours, I dare well sayen, 

Than doth the sun the candle light 

Or brightest day the darkest night. 

And thereto hath a troth as just 
As had Penelope the fair ; 
For what she saith, ye may it trust, 
As it by writing sealed were : 
And virtues hath she many moe 
Than I with pen have skill to show. 

I could rehearse, if that I would, 
The whole effect of Nature's plaint, 
When she had lost the perfect mould. 
The like to whom she could not paint : 
With wringing hands, how she did cry, 
And what she said, I know it, I. 

I know she swore with raging mind, 

Her kingdom only set apart. 

There was no loss by law of kind 

That could have gone so near her heart ; 

And this was chiefly all her pain ; 

' She could not make the like again.' 

Sith Nature thus gave her the praise. 
To be the chiefest work she wrought ; 
In faith, mcthinks ! some better ways 
On your behalf might well be sought, 
Than to compare, as ye have done, 
'I'o match the candle with the sun. 



EARL OF SURREY. 261 



An Epitaph on Clere, Surrey's faithful Friend and 
Follower. 

Norfolk sprung thee, Lambeth holds thee dead ; 
Clere, of the Count of Cleremont, thou hight ; 
Within the womb of Ormond's race thou bred, 
And saw'st thy cousin^ crowned in thy sight. 
Sheltou for love, Surrey for lord thou chase ^. 
(Aye me ! whilst life did last that league was tender) 
Tracing whose steps thou sawest Kelsal blaze, 
Landrecy burnt, and battered Boulogne render. 
At Montreuil gates, hopeless of all recure, 
Thine Earl, half dead, gave in thy hand his will ; 
Which cause did thee this pining death procure, 
Ere summers four times seven thou couldst fulfill. 
Ah ! Clere ! if love had booted, care, or cost, 
Heaven had not won, nor earth so timely lost. 

On the Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt. 

Wyatt resteth here that quick could never rest : 
Whose heavenly gifts increased by disdain, 

And virtue sank the deeper in his breast ; 
Such profit he by envy could obtain. 

A head where wisdom mysteries did frame, 
Whose hammers beat still in that lively brain, 

As on a stithe where that some work of fame 
Was daily wrought, to turn to Britain's gain. 

A visage stern and mild : where both did grow 

Vice to contemn, in virtue to rejoice ; 
Amid great storms whom grace assured so 

To live upright, and smile at fortune's choice. 

A hand that taught what might be said in rhyme ; 

That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit ; 
A mark, the which (unperfected for time) 

Some may approach, but never none shall hit. 

' Thomas Clere was first cousin of Anne Boleyn. " Didst choose. 



262 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A tongue that served in foreign realms his king ; 

Whose courteous talk to virtue did inflame 
Each noble heart : a worthy guide to bring 

Our English youth by travail unto fame. 

An eye whose judgment none affect could blind, 
Friends to allure and foes to reconcile, 

Whose piercing look did represent a mind 
With virtue fraught reposed void of guile. 

A heart where dread was never so imprest 

To hide the thought that might the truth advance ; 

In neither fortune loft ', nor yet represt, 
To swell in wealth, or yield unto mischance. 

A valiant corpse, where force and beauty met, 

Happy alas, too happy but for foes. 
Lived, and ran the race that nature set ; 

Of manhood's shape where she the mould did lose. 

But to the heavens that simple soul is fled. 

Which left, with such as covet Christ to know, 

Witness of faith that never could be dead ; 
Sent for our health, but not received so. 

Thus for our guilt this jewel have we lost ; 

The earth his bones, the heavens possess his ghost. 

' exalted. 



GEORGE GASCOIGNE. 



[George Gascoigne was bom circ. 1536; died 1577. The dates of his 
poems are: — 

• 1572. A hundred Sundry Flowers hound up in one small Posy. 

1575. The Posies corrected, perfected, and augmented by the Author. 
„ The Glass of Government. 

1576. The Steel Glass, with the Complaint of Philomene. 

1587. The Pleasanlest Worlis of George Gascoigne, newly compiled into one 
volume^ 

Amongst the poets that immediately preceded the great Eliza- 
bethan Period, which may be said to begin with the pubHcation 
of The ShephenVs Caletidar in 158c, Gascoigne occupied, and 
occupies, a notable place. Bolton indeed, in his Hyfcrcritica, 
speaks slightingly of him : ' Among the lesser late poets George 
Gascoigne's Works may be endured ' ; but for the most part he is 
mentioned with high respect and praise. Raleigh commends The 
Steel Glass in what are his earliest known verses. Puttenham 
distinguishes him for 'a good metre and for a plentiful vein.' 
Webbe calls him ' a witty gentleman, and the very chief of our late 
rimers'; 'gifts of wit,' he says, 'and natural promptness appear in 
liim abundantly.' Amongst other eulogists may be named Nash, 
Gabriel Harvey, Whetstone. 

He was a man of family and position, well known to and 
amongst the ' Inns of Court men,' who, in the Elizabethan age, 
as in that of Queen Anne, passed for the arch wits and critics as 
well as the first gentlemen of the day ; and when campaigning in 
the Low Countries he met with adventures which added to his per- 
sonal prestige. Thus he was a conspicuous figure in the society 
of his time, and for this reason, if for nothing else, his verses 
would win esteem and circulation. 

Gascoigne, then, is interesting as a poet who was popular during 
Shakspere's boyhood and Spenser's adolescence. But he is yet 
more important as one who did real service in the way of extend- 
ing and improving the form of literature — as a pioneer of the 



264 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Elizabethan Period. ' Whoever,' says Nash, ' my private opinion 
condemns as faulty, Master Gascoigne is not to be abridged of 
his deserved esteem, who first beat the path to that perfection 
which our best poets have aspired to since his departure ; whereto 
he did ascend by comparing the Italian with the English, as Tully 
did GrcBca cum Latinis? He is the author of our earliest extant 
comedy in prose — possibly the earliest written — The Supposes, 
a translation of Ariosto's Supposili, and in part the author of one 
of our earliest tragedies, of Jocasta — a paraphrase rather than a 
translation of the Phoinissai of Euripides ; he is one of our 
earliest v/riters of formal satire and of blank verse, and in his 
' Certain Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse 
or rime in English written at the request of Master Edouardo 
Donati,' one of the earliest essayists, if not the earliest, on 
English metres. 

Happily, we can add, his works have not only these historical 
claims on our attention ; they have intrinsic merits. His lyrics 
are occasionally characterised by a certain lightness and grace, 
which give and will give them a permanent life. Singing of all a 
lover's moods and experiences — how he passions, laments, com- 
plains, recants, is refused, is encouraged — he is never a mere mimic 
of his Italian masters, or, though somewhat monotonous, wanting 
in vigour and sincerity. His style is clear and unaffected. The 
crude taste of his age is often enough apparent ; and in this re- 
spect his ' poor rude lines,' if we ' compare them with the bettering 
of the times,' may sometimes make but no great show ; but here 
too he rises above his fellows, who are often simply grotesque 
when they mean to be fervent, and are dull when they are not- 
grotesque. He writes in various metres with various facility and 
skill. Of blank verse his mastery is imperfect ; he is like a child 
learning to walk, whose progress is from chair to chair ; he lacks 
freedom and fluency. The metre of his Complamt of Phtlotitctie is 
ill chosen for its purpose. It is a jig, not a movement of ' even 
step and musing gait.' Much of his work is autobiographical. 
V/e can trace him ' from gay to grave,' perhaps we may add ' from 
lively to severe ' ; for in his later years, by a reaction that is com- 
mon enough, it would seem he took a somewhat morbid view of 
the life he was leaving, under-prizing it, after the manner of zealots, 
even as in his youth he had prized it too highly. 

John W. Hales. 



GASCOIGNE. 265 



The Arraignment of a Lover. 

At Beauty's bar as I did stand, 

When false Suspect accused me, 

George (quoth the Judge), hold up thy hand, 

Thou art arraigned of flattery : 

Tell therefore: how thou wilt be tried : 

Whose judgement here wilt thou abide ? 

My Lord (quoth I) this Lady here, 
Whom I esteem above the rest, 
Doth know my guilt if any were : 
Wherefore her doom shall please me best. 
Let her be Judge and Juror both. 
To try me guiltless by mine oath. 

Quoth Beauty, no, it fitteth not, 
A prince herself to judge the cause : 
Will is our Justice well you wot, 
Appointed to discuss our laws : 
If you will guiltless seem to go, 
God and your country quit you so. 

Then Craft the crier call'd a quest. 
Of whom was Falsehood foremost fere, 
A pack of pickthanks were the rest, 
Which came false witness for to bear. 
The jury such, the judge unjust, 
Sentence was said I should be trussed. 

Jealous the jailer bound me fast, 

To hear the verdict of the bill, 

George (quoth the Judge) now thou art cast, 

Thou must go hence to Heavy Hill, 

And there be hanged all but the head, 

God rest thy soul when thou art dead. 



266 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Down fell I then upon my knee, 
All flat before Dame Beauty's face, 
And cried Good Lady pardon me, 
Which here appeal unto your grace, 
You know if I have been untrue. 
It was in too much praising you. 

And though this Judge do make such haste, 
To shed with shame my guiltless blood : 
Yet let your pity first be placed, 
To save the man that meant you good, 
So shall you show yourself a Queen, 
And I may be your servant seen. 

(Quoth Beauty) well : because I guess, 
"What thou dost mean henceforth to be, 
Although thy faults deserve no less. 
Than Justice here hath judged thee, 
Wilt thou be bound to stint all strife 
And be true prisoner all thy life ? 

Yea madam (quoth I) that I shall, 

Lo Faith and Truth my sureties : 

Why then (quoth she) come when I call, 

I ask no better w-arrantise. 

Thus am I Beauty's bounden thrall, 

At her command when she doth call. 

A Strange Passion of a Lover. 

Amid my bale I bathe in bliss, 

I swim in Heaven, I sink in hell : 

I find amends for every miss, 

And yet my moan no tongue can tell. 

I live and love (what would you more }) 

As never lover lived before. 

I laugh sometimes with little lust, 
So jest I oft and feel no joy : 
Mine eye is builded all on trust. 
And yet mistrust breeds mine annoy. 



GASCOIGNE. 267 



I live and lack, I lack and have ; 
I have and miss the thing I crave. 

These things seem strange, yet are they true. 

Believe me, sweet, my state is such, 

One pleasure which I would eschew, 

Both slakes my grief and breeds my grutch. 

So doth one pain which I would shun. 

Renew my joys where grief begun. 

Then like the lark that passed the night, 
In heavy sleep with cares oppressed ; 
Yet when she spies the pleasant light, 
She sends sweet notes from out her breast. 
So sing I now because I think 
How joys approach, when sorrows shrink. 

And as fair Philomene again 

Can watch and sing when other sleep ; 

And taketh pleasure in her pain, 

To wray the woe that makts her weep. 

So sing I now for to bewray 

The loathsome life I lead alway. 

The which to thee dear wench I write, 
That know'st my mirth but not my moan : 
I pray God grant thee deep delight, 
To live in joys when I am gone. 
I cannot live ; it will not be : 
I die to think to part from thee. 



Piers Plough]\ian. 

[From The Steel Gla>i.] 

Behold him, priests, and though he stink of sweat. 
Disdain him not : for shall I tell you what ? 
Such climb to heaven before the shaven crowns : 
But how ? forsooth with true humility. 
Not that they hoard their grain when it is cheap. 
Nor that they kill the calf to have the milk, 



2 68 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Nor that they set debate between their lords, 
By earing up the balks that part their bounds : 
Nor for because they can both crouch and creep 
(The guileful'st men that ever God yet made) 
When as they mean most mischief and deceit, 
Nor that they can cry out on landlords loud, 
And say they rack their rents an ace too high. 
When they themselves do sell their landlord's lamb 
For greater price than ewe was wont be worth. 
(I see you Piers, my glass was lately scoured.) 
But for they feed with fruits of their great pains 
Both king and knight and priests in cloister pent : 
Therefore I say that sooner some of them 
Shall scale the walls which lead us up to heaven. 
Than cornfed beasts, whose belly is their God, 
Although they preach of more perfection. 



Epilogus. 

Alas, (my lord), my haste was all too hot, 

I shut my glass before you gazed your fill, 

And at a glimpse my seely self have spied, 

A stranger troop than any yet were seen : 

Behold, my lord, what monsters muster here, 

With angels face, and harmful hellish hearts, 

With smiling looks ar,d deep deceitful thoughts, 

With tender skins, and stony cruel minds. 

With stealing steps, yet forward feet to fraud. 

Behold, behold, they never stand content. 

With God, wilh kind, with any help of Art, 

But curl their locks with bodkins and with braids, 

But dye their hair with sundry subtle sleights, 

But paint and slick till fairest face be foul, 

But bumbast, bolster, frizzle and perfume : 

They marr wilh musk the balm which nature made, 

And dig for death in delicatest dishes. 

The younger sort come piping on apace, 

In whistles made of fine enticing wood, 



GASCOIGNE. 269 



Till they have caught the birds for Avhom they brided, 
And on their backs they bear both land and fee, 
Castles and towers, revenues and receipts, 
Lordships and manors, fines, yea farms and all. 
What should these be? (speak you my lovely lord) 
They be not men : for why they have no beards. 
They be no boys which wear such sidelong gowns. 
They be no Gods, for all their gallant gloss. 
They be no devils (I trow) which seem so saintish. 
What be they ? women ? masking in men's weeds ? 
With dutchkin doublets, and with jerkins jagged? 
With Spanish spangs and ruffs set out of France, 
With high copt hats and feathers flaunt a flaunt ? 
They be so sure even ivoe to Men in deed. 
Nay then, my lord, let shut the glass apace. 
High time it were for my poor Muse to wink, 
Since all the hands, all paper, pen and ink, 
\Vhich ever yet this wretched world possest, 
Cannot describe this sex in colours due. 
No, No, my lord, we gazed have enough, 
(And I too much ; God pardon me therefore), 
Better look off than look an ace too far : 
And better mum than meddle overmuch. 
But if my glass do like my lovely lord. 
We will espy some sunny summers day, 
To look again and see some seemly sights. 
Meanwhile my muse right humbly doth beseech, 
That my good lord accept this vent'rous verse 
Until my brains may better stuff devise. • 



THOMAS SACKVILLE. 



[Thomas Sackville was bom in 1536 at Buckhurst in Sussex, where his 
family had been settled since the Conquest. After some time spent at 
Oxford and Cambridge, he entered parliament (1557-58), and in the begin- 
ning of Elizabeth's reign he became known as a poetical writer. Between 
1557 and 1563 he took part in The Tragedy of Gorbodiic. and also planned a 
work called The Mirror of Magistrates, a series of poetical examples, show- 
ing ' with how grievous plagues vices are punished in Great Princes and 
Magistrates, and how frail and unstable worldly prosperity is found, where 
fortune seemeth most highly to favour.' He wrote the Induclioii, a preface, 
and the vStory of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. But he soon threw 
himself into the risks of public life. On the whole he was successful. In 
1567 he was created Lord Buckhurst. He experienced the fitful temper of 
the Queen in various public employments. He sat on several of the great 
state trials of the time — those of the Duke of Norfolk, Mary Queen of Scots, 
the Earl of Essex. In 1.-99 he was made Lord High Treasurer. James I 
created him Earl of Dorset in 1604. In 160S he died, 'while sitting at the 
council table at Whitehall.'] 

The scanty remains of Sackville's poetry are chiefly interesting 
because they show a strong sense of the defects of the existing 
poetical standard, and a craving after something better. They 
show an effort after a larger and bolder creation of imagery ; as 
where the poet, copying Dante, imagines himself guided by the 
Genius of Sorrow through the regions of the great Dead, there 
to hear from their own mouths the sad vicissitudes of their various 
stories. There is a greater restraint and severity than had yet 
been seen in the choice of language and ornament, though stiffness 
and awkwardness of phrase, and the still imperfect sense of 
poetical fitness and grace, show that the writer could not yet 
reach in execution what he aimed at in idea. And there is visible 
both in the structure of the seven-line stanzas, and in the flow 
of the verses themselves, a feeling for rhythmic stateliness and 
majesty corresponding to his solem.n theme. In their cadences, 
as well as in the allegorical figures and pathetic moralising of 
Sackville's verses, we see a faint anticipation of Spenser, who 
inscribed one of the prefatory Sonnets of the Faery (luccne to one 
who may have been one of his masters in his art. 

R. W. Church. 



SACKVILLE. 271 



From 'The Induction.' 
[Sorrow guides the poet to the reahns of the dead.] 

Then looking upward to the heaven's learns, 
With nighted stars thick powder'd every where, 
Which erst so glisten'd with the golden streams, 
That cheerful Phoebus spread from down his sphere, 
Beholding dark oppressing day so near, 
The sudden sight reduced to my mind. 
The sundry changes that in earth we find. 

That musing on this worldly wealth in thought, 

Which comes, and goes, more faster than we see 

The flickering flame that with the fire is wrought, 

My busy mind presented unto me 

Such fall of peers as in the realms had be. 

That oft I wish'd some would their woes descrivc, 

To warn the rest whom fortune left alive. 

And straight forth stalking with redoubled pace, 
For that I saw the night draw on so fast. 
In black all clad, there fell before my face 
A piteous wight, whom woe had all forewaste : 
Forth from her eyen the crystal tears out brast : 
And sighing sore her hands she wrung and fold, 
Tare all her hair, that ruth was to behold. 

* * ;|: * * * 

I stood aghast, beholding all her plight, 
'Tween dread and dolour, so distrain'd in heart, 
That, while my hairs upstarted with the sight. 
The tears outstream'd for sorrow of her smart : 
But, when I saw no end that could apart 
The deadly dewle which she so sore did make, 
With doleful voice then thus to her I spake : 

*0 Sorrow, alas, sith Sorrow is thy name, 
And that to thee this drear doth well pertain. 
In vain it were to seek to cease the same : 
But, as a man himself with sorrow slain, 
So I, alas, do comfort thee in pain, 



2 72 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



That here in sorrow art foresunk so deep, 
That at thy sight I can but sigh and weep.' 

:}: H: * * * * 

For forth she paced in her fearful tale : 

' Come, come,' quoth she, ' and see what I shall show. 

Come, hear the plaining and the bitter bale 

Of worthy men by Fortune overthrow : 

Come thou and see them rueing all in row. 

They were but shades that erst in mind thou roll'd : 

Come, come with me, thine eyes shall them behold.' 

****** 
Flat down I fell, and with all reverence 
Adored her, perceiving now that she, 
A goddess, sent by godly providence, 
In earthly shape thus show'd herself to me, 
To wail and rue this world's uncertainty : 
And, while I honour'd thus her godhead's might, 
With plaining voice these words to me she shright. 

' I shall thee guide first to the grisly lake, 
And thence unto the blissful place of rest. 
Where thou shalt see, and hear, the plaint they make 
That whilom here bare swing among the best : 
This shalt thou see : but great is the unrest 
That thou must bide, before thou canst attain 
Unto the dreadful place where these remain.' 
****** 

Thence come we to the horrour and the hell, 
The large great kingdoms, and the dreadful reign 
Of Pluto in his throne where he did dwell, 
The wide waste places, and the hugy plain. 
The wailings, shrieks, and sundry sorts of pain, 
The sighs, the sobs, the deep and deadly groan : 
Earth, air, and all, resounding plaint and moan. 

Here pul'd the babes, and here the maids unwed 
With folded hands their sorry chance bewail'd, 
Here wept the guiltless slain, and lovers dead, 
That slew themselves when nothing else avail'd : 
A thousand sorts of sorrows here, that wail'd 



SACKVILLE. 273 



With sighs, and tears, sobs, shrieks, and all yfear, 
That, oh, alas, it was a hell to hear. 



Lo here, quoth Sorrow, princes of renown, 
That whilom sat on top of fortune's wheel," 
Now laid full low, like wretches whirled down, 
Ev'n with one frown, that stay'd but with a smile : 
And now behold the thing that thou, ere while, 
Saw only in thought : and what thou now shalt hear, 
Recount the same to kesar, king and peer.' 



Complaint of the Duke of Buckingham. 

So long as fortune would permit the same, 
I liv'd in rule and riches with the best : 
And pass'd my time in honour and in fame, 
That of mishap no fear was in my breast : 
But false fortune, when I suspected least, 
Did turn the wheel, and with a doleful fall 
Hath me bereft of honour, life, and all. 

Lo, what avails in riches floods that flows ? 
Though she so smil'd, as all the world were his ; 
Even kings and kesars biden fortune's throws. 
And simple sort must bear it as it is. 
Take heed by me that blith'd in baleful bliss : 
My rule, my riches, royal blood and all. 
When fortune frown'd, the feller made my fall. 

For hard mishaps, that happens unto such 
Whose wretched state erst never fell no change, 
Agrieve them not in any part so much 
As their distress, to whom it is so strange 
That all their lives, nay, passed pleasures range. 
Their sudden woe, that aye wield wealth at will, 
Algates their hearts more piercingly must thrill. 
VOL, I. T 



2 74 TY/iS' ENGLISH POETS. 

For of my birth, my blood was of the best, 
First born an earl, then duke by due descent : 
To swing the sway in court among the rest, 
Dame Fortune me her rule most largely lent. 
And kind with courage so my corpse had blent. 
That lo, on whom but me did she most smile ? 
And whom but me, lo, did she most beguile ? 

Now hast thou heard the whole of my unhap. 
My chance, my change, the cause of all my care 
In wealth and woe, how fortune did me wrap, 
With world at will, to win me to her snare : 
Bid kings, bid kesars, bid all states beware. 
And tell them this from me that tried it true : 
Who reckless rules, right soon may hap to rue. 



Sleep. 

By him lay heavy Sleep, the cousin of Death, 
Flat on the ground, and still as any stone, 
A very corpse, save yielding forth a breath : 
Small keep took he, whom Fortune frowned on, 
Or whom she lifted up into the throne 
Of high renown : but as a living death. 
So, dead alive, of life he drew the breath. 

The body's rest, the quiet of the heart. 

The travail's ease, the still night's fear was he, 

And of our life on earth the better part : 

Reaver of sight, and yet in whom we see 

Things oft that tide, and oft that never be : 

Without respect, esteeming equally 

King Croesus' pomp, and Irus' poverty. 



EDMUND SPENSER. 



[Edmund Spenser was born in London about 1552. He was educated 
at Merchant Taylors' School : his first poetical performances, translations 
from Petrarch and Du Bellay, published without his name in a miscella- 
neous collection, belong to the time of his leaving school in 1569. From 
that year to 1576 he was at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. In 1579 he was 
in London, acquainted with Philip Sidney, and in Lord Leicester's house- 
hold. In 1580 was published, but without his name. The Shepheards 
Calender ; and in the autumn of that year he went to Ireland with Lord 
Grey of Wilton, as his private secretary. The remainder of his life, with 
the exception of short visits to England, was spent in Ireland, where 
he held various subordinate offices, and where he settled on a grant of 
forfeited land at Kilcolman in the county of Cork. In 15S9 he accom- 
panied Sir Walter Ralegh to London, and in 1590 published the first three 
books of The Faerie Queene. In 1 591 he returned to Ireland, and a miscel- 
laneous collection of compositions of earlier and later dates {Complaints) 
was published in London. In June 1594 he married, and the next year, 
1595, he again visited London, and in Jan. 1595-6 published the second 
instalment of The Faerie Queene (iv-vi). With the same date. 1595, were 
published his Colin Clouts Come Hotne again, an account of his visit to the 
Court in 1589-90, and his Ainoret/i Sonnets, and an Epithalamion, relating to 
his courtship and marriage. At the end of 1598 his house was sacked 
and burnt by the Munster rebels, and he returned in great distress to 
London. He died at Westminster, Jan. 16, 159S-9, and was buried in the 
Abbey.] 

Spenser was the first who in the literature of England since the 
Reformation made himself a name as a poet which could be 
compared with that of Chaucer, or of the famous Italians who 
then stood at the head of poetical composition. National energy 
had revived under the reign of Elizabeth, and with it had come 
a burst of poetical enthusiasm. Many persons tried their hand at 
poetry. Versification became a fashion. It was encouraged in the 
Court circles. The taste for poetry shows itself in a popular shape 
in ballads, and among scholars in translation ; and amid a good 

T 2 



276 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

deal of bad poetry there was some written which was genuine and 
beautiful, and which has survived to charm us still. The poetical 
spirit and feeling came out most naturally in short love poems, of 
which many of great grace and fire are preserved in the collec- 
tions of the time ; the other form which it took at this time was 
the expression of the pathetic incidents and conditions of human 
greatness and fortune. Sir Philip Sidney, one of the most ac- 
complished and most rising of the young men about the Court, 
encouraged an interest in poetry in his circle of friends, and some of 
them, Edward Dyer and Fulke Greville, have, like Sidney himself, 
left poems of merit. But while there was much poetical writing, 
and not a little poetical power even among men engaged in the 
business and wars of the time, such as Walter Ralegh, no successful 
attempt had been made to produce a great poetical work which 
might challenge comparison with the Ca7iterbury Tales at home, 
or the Orlando Furioso abroad. Spenser was the first who had 
the ambition and also the power for such an enterprise. His 
earliest work, The Shepherd's Cale?idar, a series of what were 
called pastoral poems, after the fashion of the Italian models and 
some English imitators, partly original, partly translated or para- 
phrased, though very immature and very unequal in its composition, 
was at once felt to be something more considerable as a poetical 
achievement than anything which the sixteenth century had yet 
seen in England. The 'new poet' became almost a recognised 
title for the man who had shown, not merely by a few spirited 
fugitive stanzas, but in a sustained work, that he could write so 
sweetly and so well. The fame and the associations of The 
Shepherd's Calendar clung to him even to the end of his career. 
To the end he had a predilection for its pastoral colouring and 
scenery ; to the end he liked to give himself the rustic name by 
which he had represented himself in its dialogues, and called 
himself Colin Cloitt. 

But The Faery Queen was something beyond the expectations 
raised by The Shepherd's Calendar. In its plan, its invention, and 
its execution, it took the world of its day by surprise. It opened 
a new road to English poetry, and new kingdoms to be won by it. 
The name of Spenser stands in point of time even before that of 
Shakespeare in the roll of modern English poets. A discoverer of 
something new to be done, he first did what all were trying to do, 
and broke down the difficulties of a great and magnificent art. 

But the first are not always the greatest in poetry, any more than 



SPEArSEE. 277 



in painting, in music, in science, in geographical discovery : they 
lead the way and make it possible to greater men and greater 
things. Spenser delighted Shakespeare : he was the poetical 
master of Cowley and then of Milton, and, in a sense, of Dryden 
and even Pope. None but a man of strength, of originality, of 
rare sense of beauty and power of imagination and music, could 
have been this. But he was the great predecessor of yet greater 
successors. The Faery Queen is a noble and splendid work. 
When we think that it was the first of its kind, and that Spenser 
had no master of English, except in antiquity, to show him how 
to write, it is an astonishing one. But it has the imperfections 
and shortcomings of most original attempts to do what is new and 
hard, and what none have yet succeeded in ; and it has the im- 
perfections M'hich actually belonged to the genius, the mind and 
character of the writer. 

The Faery Queen is, as every one knows, an allegorical poem ; 
and in this it differs from the Italian models then talked of and 
famous, from the works of Ariosto and Tasso, as well as from 
Chaucer. The idea and framework was taken from them ; the 
machinery, like theirs, was borrowed from the days, or rather the 
literature, of chivalry ; and like theirs, the story rolled on in 
stanzas, and Spenser invented for his purpose a new form of 
stanza, one of nine lines, instead of the eight-line one of the 
Italians. But, unlike them, Spenser avowedly designed to him- 
self a moral purpose and meaning in his poem. It was not merely 
a brilliant and entertaining series of adventures, like the Orlando. 
It was not merely a poetical celebration of a great historical 
legend, a religious epic, like the Gerusalemme. It professed to 
be a veiled exposition of moral philosophy. It was planned, and 
all its imaginative wealth unfolded, in order to pourtray and 
recommend the virtues, and to exhibit philosophical speculations. 
It was intended to be a book, not for delight merely, but for 
instruction. Such a view of poetry was characteristically in har- 
mony with the serious spirit of the time in England, which 
welcomed heartily all intellectual efforts, but which expected in 
them a purpose to do more than amuse, and had fashion on its 
side in putting the note of frivolity on what did not bear this 
purpose distinctly in view. Spenser thought it right to declare to 
his friends, and to set down in writing, the aim and intention of 
his poem. He described it as a work which 'is in hcroical verse 
under the title of a Faery Queen to represent all the moral 



2)8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

virtues, assigning to every virtue a knight as the patron and de- 
fender of the same, in whose actions and feats of arms and 
chivalry the operations of that virtue, whereof he is the protector, 
are to be expressed, and the vices and unruly appetites that 
oppose themselves against the same, to be beaten down or over- 
come.' And in a letter to Sir Walter Ralegh, written to give the 
key to the poem, he says that the general end of his 'Allegory 
or dark conceit,' and of all his book, is ' to fashion a gentleman 
or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.' He indeed 
sees this purpose and intention in the 'antique poets historical.' 
Homer meant to represent ' a good governor and virtuous man ' 
in Agamemnon and Ulysses, Virgil meant the same in Aeneas, 
Ariosto in Orlando. Tasso dissevered them, representing the 
Ethical part of Moral Philosophy, or the virtues of a private man, 
in Rinaldo ; the other, ' named Politice^ the public virtues of a 
governor in Gofifredo. In King Arthur, Spenser meant once more 
to join both. ' By example of which excellent poets,' he says, 
' I labour to pourtray in Arthur, before he was king, the image of 
a brave knight, perfected in the XII private moral virtues, as 
Aristotle hath devised ; the which is the purpose of these first 
twelve books ; which if I find to be well accepted, I may be per- 
haps encouraged to frame the other part oi politick virtues in his 
person, after that he came to be king.' 

Of this large design of twenty-four books, each of twelve cantos, 
little more than a fourth part was accomplished, or at any rate 
has survived. The first three books were published in 1590; 
three more, books iv, v, vi, were added to them in a second 
edition in 1596. Two cantos, with a couple of stray stanzas, 
were published after his death. The political part of the design 
does not seem to have even come into sight of the poet. 

The poem was designed in England, but it was mostly written 
in Ireland, amid scenes of disprder and wretchedness, which sorely 
tested not only the courage, but the justice, the wisdom, and the 
humanity of the Englishmen who had any share in the govern- 
ment of the most unfortunate of the Queen's dominions. It needed 
indeed to be a knight as perfect in strength and goodness as the 
ideal Arthur, to deal with the evils of Ireland. Spenser, as men 
do in trying times, thought he saw the virtues partially realised in 
the friends engaged in the difficult tasks round him : we, at our 
point of view, are obliged to see how far the best and noblest of 
them was from the poet's ideal. But the presence and actual 



SPENSER. 279 



sight of all this energ>', struggle, danger, courage, doubtless gave 
life to Spenser's conception of the life of warfare which he pro- 
posed to pourtray. It was before him on the spot ; and The Faery 
Queen is the reflection of it, tempered and sobered by the poet's 
purpose, to make it represent his conception of all that makes 
a man great and true in his resistance to the vices and evils of 
the world. 

The Faery Queen purports to be a story, and the outline of the 
story, which was to bind it together, is given in the poet's ex- 
planatory letter to Sir Walter Ralegh, now prefixed to the poem. 
He imagines the Faery Queen, by whom he shadows forth Eliza- 
beth, holding a great festival, on occasion of which twelve of her 
knights, each the example and champion of some particular virtue, 
undertake separate enterprises at her appointment and in her 
honour ; while Prince Arthur, in whom is represented the com- 
prehensive Aristotelic virtue of magnificence, or greatness of 
soul, is to fall in with them one by one in his quest of his fated 
bride the Faery Queen, helping and saving them by the superior 
power of his virtue and his knightly skill. The adventures of the 
twelve knights were to furnish the ' Legends ' of the twelve books of 
the first portion of his design, the ' ethical ' portion. He thought it 
inartificial for a poet to begin from the occasion and starting-point 
of these various adventures : ' A Poet,' he said, ' thrusteth him- 
self into the middest, even when it most concerneth him, and there 
recoursing to the things forepast, and divining of things to come, 
maketh a pleasant analysis of all.' So he starts in the middle of 
one of the adventures, reserving his poetical account of the origin 
of them all, till he should have brought all his Knights back again 
to the Faery Queen's Court in the last book. The arrangement 
was an awkward one, and the Twelfth Book was never reached. 
Though we know the framework of the story, we do not know it 
from the poem itself. And as he went on with his work, the main 
story is soon lost in the separate ones, and the poem becomes 
a succession of adventures, stories, pictures, and allegories, with 
little attempt to keep them together. 

In the first Book, the story and the allegory, — the dangers, the 
combats, the defeats, the final victory of the Red Cross Knight of 
Holiness, the champion of the Virgin Una with her milk-white 
lamb, — and that which all this shadowed, the struggle of true 
religion and godliness with its foes, its vicissitudes, and its 
triumph, both in the visible scene of the world's history, and in 



28o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

the heart of man, are both carried on clearly and consecutively. 
The Second Book, which takes the Knight of Temperance through 
his contest with violence, with the falsehood of extremes, with 
the madness of uncontrolled temper, with the temptations of 
Mammon, of riches and ambition, to the closing achievement, 
the conquest over all that Pleasure could present to allure and 
fascinate him, is straightforward and distinct in its construction. 
But after this the poet's hold over his story relaxes. The legend 
of Chastity in the next book presents the same idea as that of the 
second, but exhibited in the persons of the lady knight Britomart, 
and the virgin huntress Belphoebe, both of them in various aspects 
imaging the ' sacred saint ' of the poet's worship. In the three 
later books, the legend of Justice is marked by its strong and 
definite representations of some great historical events of Spenser's 
age, the administration of Lord Grey of Wilton in Ireland, the 
blows dealt at the Spanish power in the Channel and in the 
Netherlands, the fate of Mary Queen of Scots. The legends of 
' Friendship ' and ' Courtesy ' certainly exhibit examples of friend- 
ship and courtesy. But when we think of what friendship is, we 
wonder that Spenser has so little to say about it, and that his 
imagination found nothing more to work upon than the com- 
panionship in love or war, sometimes loyal, sometimes false, of 
men-at-arms : and so many other interests and incidents come 
in besides, that it seems rather arbitrary to assign the legends 
specially to these virtues. And then, with the exception of the 
fragment on ' Mutability,' which is part of a projected legend of 
' Constancy,' the poem stops, and with it all our knowledge of the 
way in which it was to be carried forward. 

The interest in The Faery Queen is twofold. There is the in- 
terest of the moral picture which it presents, and there is the 
interest of it as a work of poetical art. 

The moral picture is of the ideal of noble manliness in Eliza- 
beth's time. Besides the writers and the thinkers, the statesmen 
and the plotters, the traders and the commons, of that fruitful and 
vigorous age, there were the men of action : the men who fought 
in France and the Netherlands and Ireland, the men who created 
the English navy, and showed how it could be used : the men who 
tried for the north-west passage with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and 
sailed round the world with Sir Francis Drake, and planted colonics 
in America with Sir Walter Ralegh : the men who chased the 
Armada to destruction, and dealt the return buffet to Spanish pride 



SPENSER. 281 

in the harbour of Cadiz ; men who treated the sea as the rightful 
dominion of their mistress, and seeking adventures on it far and 
near, with or without her leave, reaped its rich harvests of plunder, 
from Spanish treasure ships and West Indian islands, or from the 
exposed towns and churches of the Spanish coast. They were at 
once men of daring enterprise and sometimes very rough execu- 
tion ; and yet men with all the cultivation and refinement of the 
time, courtiers, scholars, penmen, poets. These are the men whom 
Spenser had before his eyes in drawing his knights — their ideas 
of loyalty, of gallantry, of the worth and use of life, — their aims, 
their enthusiasm, their temptations, their foes, their defeats, their 
triumphs. In his tales of perpetual warfare, of perpetual resistance 
to evil, of the snares and desperate dangers through which they 
have to fight their way, there is a picture of the conditions 
which affect the whole life of man. The allegory may be applied, 
and was intended to be applied generally, to the difficulties which 
beset his course and the qualities necessary to overcome them. 
But it specially exhibits the ideals and standards and aspirations 
— the characteristic virtues and the characteristic imperfections, 
the simple loyalty and the frank selfishness, of the brilliant and 
high-tempered generation, who are represented by men like Philip 
Sidney and Waher Ralegh, and Howard of Effingham and Richard 
Grenville, or by families like those of Vere and Norreys and 
Carew. 

As a work of art The Faery Qiieen at once astonishes us by the 
wonderful fertility and richness of the writer's invention and imagin- 
ation, by the facility with which he finds or makes language for his 
needs, and above all, by the singular music and sweetness of his 
verse. The main theme seldom varies : it is a noble knight, fighting, 
overcoming, tempted, delivered ; or a beautiful lady, plotted against, 
distressed, in danger, rescued. The poet's affluence of fancy and 
speech gives a new turn and colour to each adventure. But besides 
that under these conditions there must be monotony, the poet's art, 
admirable as it is, gives room for objections. Spenser's style is an 
imitation of the antique ; and an imitation, however good, must want 
the master charm of naturalness, reality, simple truth. And in his 
system of work, with his brightness and quickness and fluency, he 
wanted self-restraint— the power of holding himself in, and of judg- 
ing soundly of fitness and proportion. There was a looseness and 
carelessness, partly belonging to his age, partly his own. In the 
use of materials, nothing comes amiss to him. He had no scruples 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



as a copyist. He took without ceremony any piece of old metal, — 
word, or story, or image — which came to his hand, and threw it 
into the melting-pot of his imagination, to come out fused with his 
own materials, often transformed, but often unchanged. The effect 
was sometimes happy, but not always so. 

With respect to his diction, it must ever be remembered that 
the language was still in such an uncertain and unfixed state as 
naturally to invite attempts to extend its powers, and to enrich, 
supple, and colour it. Spenser avowedly set himself to do this. 
The editor of his first work, The Shepherd's Calendar, takes credit 
on his behalf for attempting 'to restore, as to their rightful heritage, 
such good and natural English words, as have been long time out 
of use, and almost clean disherited.' Spenser draws largely on 
Chaucer, both for his vocabulary and his grammar : and his autho- 
rity and popularity have probably saved us a good many words 
which we could ill afford to lose. And some of his words we 
certainly have forgotten to our loss — such words as 'ingate' (like 
' insight,') ' glooming,' ' fool-happy,' ' overgone,' and his many com- 
binations with en- ■ — 'empeopled,' 'engrieved,' 'enrace.' But it is 
not to enrich a language but to confuse and spoil it, when a writer 
forces on it words which are not in keeping with its existing usages 
and spirit, and much more when he arbitrarily deals with words to 
make them suit the necessities of metre and rime : and there is 
much of this in Spenser. He overdoes, especially in his earlier 
books, the old English expedient of alliteration, or 'hunting the 
letter,' as it was called, which properly belongs to a much earlier 
method of versification, and which the ear of his own generation 
had already learned to shrink from in excess. He not only re- 
vives old words, but he is licentious — as far as we are able to 
trace the usages of the time — in inventing new ones. He is 
unscrupulous in using inferior forms for better and more natural 
ones, not for the sake of the word, but for the convenience of 
the verse. The transfer of words — adjectives and verbs — from 
their strict use to a looser one, — the passage from an active to a 
neuter sense, — the investing a word with new associations, — the 
interchange of attributes between two objects, with the feelings or 
phrase which really belong to one reflected back upon the other 
— are, within limits, part of the recognised means by which language, 
and especially poetical language, extends its range. But Spenser 
was inclined to make all limits give way to his convenience, and 
the rapidity of his work. It is not only to us that his language is 



SPENSER. 283 



both strange and affectedly antique ; it looked the same to the 
men of his own time. It is a drawback to the value of Spenser as 
a monument of the English of his day, that it is often uncertain 
whether a form or a meaning of word may not be due simply to 
his own wayward and arbitrary use of it. 

77^!^ Faery Qiteeii has eclipsed all Spenser's other writings : but 
his other writings alone would be enough to place him, as his con- 
temporaries placed him, at the head of all who had yet attempted 
English poetry. Tlie Shepherd's Calendar, as has been said, with 
all its defects and affectations, showed force, skill, command of lan- 
guage and music as yet unknown. In it were shown the beginnings 
of two powers characteristic of Spenser : the power of telling a 
story, as in the fables of The Oak and Briar, and The Fox and 
Kid ; and the power of satire, a power which he used both there 
and afterwards in Mother Hubberds Tale, to lash the Church 
abuses of the time and the manners of the Court, and in using 
which he is in strong contrast, in his sobriety and self-restraint, to 
the coarse extravagance of such writing in his time. The Fox 
and Ape of Mother Hiibberd^s Tale is much nearer to the satire 
of Dryden and Pope, than it is to such writers as Donne and Hall. 
He did his necessary share of work in writing poems of salutation 
or congratulation for the great, or of lamentation for their mis- 
fortunes and sorrows. The Prothalamioii celebrates the marriage 
of two ladies of the Worcester family ; and he bewailed the death 
of Sir Philip Sidney and the Earl of Leicester. Much of this 
poetry was conventional. But in it appear fine and beautiful 
passages. The Prothalamion has great sweetness and grace. 
The Dirges never fail to show his deep and characteristic feeling 
for the vicissitudes of our human state. Finally, his own love 
and courtship inspired a series of Sonnets, and a Wedding Hymn. 
The Sonnets on the whole are disappointing. There is warmth and 
sincerity in them ; but they want the individual stamp which makes 
such things precious. On the other hand, the Wedding Hymn, the 
Epithalamion, is one of the richest and most magnificent composi- 
tions of the kind in any language. 

R. W. Church. 



284 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Fable of the Oak and the Briar. 

[From The Shepheards Calender, 1579-80. February.] 

There grewe an aged Tree on the greene, 
A goodly Oake sometime had it bene, 
With armes full strong and largely displayd, 
But of their leaves they were disarayde : 
The bodie bigge, and mightely pight, 
Throughly rooted, and of wonderous hight ; 
Whilome had bene the King of the field, 
And mochell mast to the husband did yielde, 
And with his nuts larded many swine : 
But now the gray mosse marred his rine ; 
His bared boughes were beaten with stormes, 
His toppe was bald, and wasted with wormes, 
His honor decayed, his braunches sere. 

Hard by his side grewe a bragging Brere, 
Which proudly thrust into Thelement, 
And seemed to threat the Firmament : 
It was embellisht with blossomes fayre. 
And thereto aye wonned to repayre 
The shepheards daughters to gather flowres, 
To peinct their girlonds with his colowres ; 
And in his small bushes used to shrowde 
The sweete Nightingale singing so lowde ; 
Which made this foolish Brere wexe so bold, 
That on a time he cast him to scold 
And snebbe the good Oake, for he was old. 

'Why standst there (quoth he) thou brutish blocke? 
Nor for fruict nor for shadowe serves thy stocke ; 
Seest how fresh my flowers bene spredde, 
Dyed in Lilly white and Cremsin redde, 
With Leaves engrained in lusty grecnc ; 
Colours meete to clothe a maydcn Qucene ? 
Thy wast bignes but combers the grownd, 
And dirks the beauty of my blossomes rownd : 
The mouldie mossc, which thee accloicth, 



SPENSER. 2 8j 

My Sinamon smell too much annoieth : 
Wherefore soone I rede thee hence remove, 
Least thou the price of my displeasure prove.' 
So spake this bold brere with great disdaine : 
Little him aunswered the Oake againe, 
But yeelded, with shame and greefe adawed, 
That of a weede he was overcrawed. 

Yt chaunced after upon a day, 
The Hus-bandman selfe to come that way. 
Of custome for to survewe his grownd, 
And his trees of state in compasse rownd : 
Him when the spitefull brere had espyed, 
Causelesse complained, and lowdly cryed 
Unto his lord, stirring up sterne strife. 

' O, my liege Lord ! the God of my life ! 
Pleaseth you ponder your vSupphants plaint. 
Caused of wrong and cruell constraint, 
Which I your poore Vassall dayly endure ; 
And, but your goodnes the same recure, 
Am like for desperate doole to dye. 
Through felonous force of mine enemie.' 

Greatly aghast with this piteous plea, 
Him rested the goodman on the lea, 
And badde the Brere in his plaint proceede. 
With painted words tho gan this proude weede 
(As most usen Ambitious folke :) 
His colowred crime with craft to cloke. 

' Ah, my soveraigne ! Lord of creatures all. 
Thou placer of plants both humble and tall, 
Was not I planted of thine owne hand, 
To be the primrose of all thy land ; 
With flowring blossomes to furnish the prime, 
And scarlot berries in Sommer time? 
How falls it then that this faded Oake, 
Whose bodie is sere, whose braunches broke, 
Whose naked Armes stretch unto the fyre, 
Unto such tyrannic doth aspire ; 
Hindering with his shade my lovely light. 
And robbing me of the swete sonnes sight ? 



2 86 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

So beate his old boughes my tender side, 

That oft the bloud springeth from woundes wyde ; 

Untimely my flowres forced to fall, 

That bene the honor of your Coronall : 

And oft he lets his cancker-wormes light 

Upon my braunches, to worke me more spight ; 

And oft his hoarie locks downe doth cast, 

Where-with my fresh flowretts bene defast : 

For this, and many more such outrage, 

Craving your goodlihead to aswage 

The ranckorous rigour of his might, 

Nought aske I, but onely to hold my right ; 

Submitting me to your good sufferance, 

And praying to be garded from greevance.' 

To this the Oake cast him to replie 
Well as he couth ; but his enemie 
Had kindled such coles of displeasure, 
That the good man noulde stay his leasure. 
But home him hasted with furious heate, 
Encreasing his ivrath with many a threate ; 
His harmefull Hatchet he hent in hand, 
(Alas ! that it so ready should stand !) 
And to the field alone he speedeth, 
(Ay little helpe to harme there needeth !) 
Anger nould let him speake to the tree, 
Enaunter^ his rage mought cooled bee ; 
But to the roote bent his sturdy stroake. 
And made many wounds in the wast Oake. 
The Axes edge did oft turne againe, 
As halfe unwilling to cutte the graine ; 
Semed, the sencelesse yron dyd feare, 
Or to wrong holy eld did forbeare ; 
For it had bene an auncient tree. 
Sacred with many a mysteree, 
And often crost with the priestcs crewe'', 
And often lialowed with holy-water dewe : 
But sike fancies weren foolerie, 
And broughten this Oake to this miserye ; 
' Itst. - holy vessel, cruise. 



SPENSER. 287 



For nought mought they quitten him from decay, 

For fiercely the good man at him did laye. 

The blocke oft groned under the blow, 

And sighed to see his neare overthrow. 

In fine, the Steele had pierced his pitth, 

Tho downe to the earth he fell forthwith. 

His wonderous weight made the ground to quake, 

Thearth shronke under him, and seemed to shake :- 

There lyeth the Oake, pitied of none ! 

Now stands the Brere like a lord alone. 
Puffed up with pryde and vaine pleasaunce ; 
But all this glee had no continuaunce : 
For eftsones Winter gan to approche ; 
The blustering Boreas did encroche. 
And beate upon the solitarie Brere ; 
For nowe no succoure was seene him nere. 
Now gan he repent his pryde to late ; 
For, naked left and disconsolate, 
The byting frost nipt his stalke dead, 
The watrie wette weighed downe his head, 
And heaped snowe burdned him so sore, 
That nowe upright he can stand no more ; 
And, being downe, is trodde in the durt, 
Of cattell, and bronzed, and sorely hurt. 
Such was thend of this Ambitious brere. 
For scorning Eld — 

Chase after Love. 

[March.] 
Tho. It was upon a holiday. 
When shepheardes groomes han leave to playe, 

I cast to goe a shooting. 
Long wandring up and downe the land, 
With bowe and bolts in either hand, 
P'or birds in bushes tooting^. 
At length within an Yvie todde "^^ 
(There shrouded was the little God) 
1 heard a busie bustling. 
' looking about. ^ a thick bush. 



2 88 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

I bent my bolt against the bush, 
Listening if any thing did rushe, 

But then heard no more rusthng : 
Tho, peeping close into the thicke, 
Might see the moving of some quicke, 

Whose shape appeared not ; 
But were it faerie, feend, or snake, 
My courage earnd^ it to awake, 

And manfully thereat shotte. 
With that sprong forth a naked swayne 
With spotted winges, like Peacocks trayne, 

And laughing lope to a tree ; 
His gylden quiver at his backe. 
And silver bowe, which was but slacke, 

Which lightly he bent at me : 
That seeing, I levelde againe 
And shott at him with might and maine, 

As thicke as it had hayled. 
So long I shott, that al was spent ; 
Tho pumie stones I hastly hent 

And threwe ; but nought availed : 
He was so wimble and so wight, 
From bough to bough he lepped light, 

And oft the pumies latched". 
Therewith affrayd, I ranne away : 
But he, that earst seemd but to playc, 

A shaft in earnest snatched, 
And hit me running in the heele : 
For then I little smart did feele, 

But soone it sore encreased ; 
And now it ranckleth more and more, 
And inwardly it festreth sore, 

Ne wote I how to cease it. 
Wil. Thomalin, I pittie thy plight, 
Perdie with Love thou diddest fight : 

I know him by a token ; 
For once I heard my father say. 
How he him caught upon a day, 

(Whereof he will be wroken) 
' yearned. ^ caught. 



SPENSER. 289 



Entangled in a fowling net, 

Which he for carrion Crowes had set 

That in our Peere-tree haunted : 
The sayd, he was a winged lad, 
But bowe and shafts as then none had, 

Els had he sore be daunted. 
But see, the Welkin thicks apace, 
And stouping Phebus steepes his face : 

Yts time to hast us homeward. 



Description of Maying. 

[May.] 

Palinode. Is not thilke the mery moneth of May, 
When love-lads masken in fresh aray .'' 
How falles it, then, we no merrier bene, 
Ylike as others, girt in gawdy greene ? 
Our bloncket liveryes^ bene all to sadde 
For thilke same season, when all is ycladd 
With pleasaunce : the grownd with grasse, the Woods 
With greene leaves, the bushes with bloosming buds. 
Yougthes folke now flocken in every where, 
To gather May bus-kets and smelling brere : 
And home they hasten the postes to dight, 
And all the Kirke pillours eare day light, 
With Hawthorne buds, and swete Eglantine, 
And girlonds of roses, and Sopps in wine. 
Such merimake holy Saints doth queme". 
But we here sitten as drownd in a dreme. 

Piers. For Younkers, Palinode, such follies fitte, 
But we tway bene men of elder witt. 

Pal. Sicker this morrowe, no lenger agoe, 
I sawe a shole of shepeheardes outgoe 
With singing, and shouting, and jolly chere : 
Before them yode a lusty Tabrere, 
That to the many a Horne-pype playd. 
Whereto they dauncen, eche one with his mayd. 
' gray coats. * please. 

VOL. I. U 



290 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

To see those folkes make such jovysaunce, 
Made my heart after the pype to daunce : 
Tho to the greene Wood they speeden hem all, 
To fetchen home May with their musicall : 
And home they bringen in a royall throne, 
Crowned as king : and his Queene attone 
Was Lady Flora, on whom did attend 
A fayre flocke of Faeries, and a fresh bend 
Of lovely Nymphs. (O that I were there, 
To helpen the Ladyes their Maybush beare !) 
Ah ! Piers, bene not thy teeth on edge, to thinke 
How great sport they gaynen with little swinck ? 



The Complaint of Age. 

[December.] 

Whilome in youth, when flowrd my joyfull spring. 
Like Swallow swift I wandred here and there ; 
For heate of heedlesse lust me so did sting, 
That I of doubted daunger had no feare : 
I went the wastefull woodes and forest wide, 
Withouten dreade of Wolves to bene espyed. 
***** 

How often have I scaled the craggie Oke, 
All to dislodge the Raven of her nest .? 
How have I wearied with many a stroke 
The stately Walnut-tree, the while the rest 

Under the tree fell all for nuts at strife? 

P'or ylike to me was libertee and lyfe. 
***** 

Tho gan my lovely Spring bid me farewel, 
And Sommer season sped him to display 
(For love then in the Lyons house did dwell) 
The raging fyre that kindled at his ray. 
A comctt stird up that unkindly heate. 
That reigned (as men sa)d) in Venus seate. 



SFENSEIi. 



291 



Forth was I ledde, not as I wont afore, 
When choise I had to choose my wandring waye, 
But whether luck and loves unbridled lore 
Woulde leade me forth on Fancies bitte to playe : 
The bush my bedde, the bramble was my bowre, 
The Woodes can witnesse many a wofull stowre. 

Where I was wont to seeke the honey Bee, 
Working her formall rowmes in wexen frame. 
The grieslie Tode-stoole growne there mought I se, 
And loathed Paddocks ^ lording on the same : 
And where the chaunting birds luld me asleepe, 
The ghastlie Owie her grievous ynne doth keepe. 

Then as the springe gives place to elder time, 

And bringeth forth the fruite of sommers pryde ; 

Also my age, now passed youngthly pryme, 

To thinges of r>'per season selfe applyed. 
And learnd of lighter timber cotes to frame. 
Such as might save my sheepe and me fro shame. 

To make fine cages for the Nightingale, 

And Baskets of bulrushes, was my wont : 

Who to entrappe the fish in winding sale 

Was better seene, or hurtful beastes to hont ? 
I learned als the signes of heaven to ken. 
How Phcebe fayles, where Venus sittes, and when. 

And tryed time yet taught me greater thinges ; 
The sodain rysing of the raging seas, 
The soothe of byrdes by beating of their winges, 
The power of herbs, both which can hurt and ease, 
And which be wont t' enrage the restlesse sheepe. 
And which be wont to worke eternall sleepe. 

But, ah ! unwise and witlesse Colin Cloute, 
That kydst ^ the hidden kinds of many a wede. 
Yet kydst not ene to cure thy sore hart-roote, 
Whose ranckling wound as yet does rifelye bleede. 
Why livest thou stil, and yet hast thy deathes wound? 
Why dyest thou stil, and yet alive art founde ? 
* toads. i knewest. 

U 2 



>92 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Thus is my sommer wome away and wasted, 
Thus is my harvest hastened all to rathe ; 
The eare that budded faire is burnt and blasted, 
And all my hoped gaine is turnd to scathe : 
Of all the seede that in my youthe was sowne 
Was nought but brakes and brambles to be mowne. 

My boughes with bloosmes that crowned were at firste, 
And promised of timely fruite such store. 
Are left both bare and barrein now at erst ; 
The flattring fruite is fallen to grownd before. 

And rotted ere they were halfe mellow ripe ; 

My harvest, wast, my hope away dyd wipe. 

The fragrant flowres, that in my garden grewe, 
Bene withered, as they had bene gathered long ; 
Theyr rootes bene dryed up for lacke of dewe. 
Yet dewed with teares they han be ever among. 
Ah ! who has wrought my Rosalind this spight. 
To spil the flowres that should her girlond dight .'' 

And I, that whilome wont to frame my pype 
Unto the shifting of the shepheards foote, 
Sike follies nowe have gathered as too ripe, 
And cast hem out as rotten and unsoote. 

The loser Lasse I cast to please no more ; 

One if I please, enough is me therefore. 

And thus of all my harvest-hope I have 
Nought reaped but a weedye crop of care ; 
Which, when I thought have thresht in swelling sheave, 
Cockel for come, and chafife for barley, bare : 
Soone as the chaffe should in the fan be fynd, 
All was blowne away of the wavering wynd. 

So now my yeare drawes to his latter torme, 
My spring is spent, my sommer burnt up quite ; 
My harveste hasts to stirre up Winter sterne, , 
And bids him clayme with rigorous rage hys right : 

So nowe he stormes with many a sturdy stoure ; 

So now his bluslring blast cchc coslc dooth scoure. 



SPENSER. 293 

The carefull cold hath nypt my rugged rynde, 
And in my face deepe furrowes eld hath pight : 
My head besprent with hoary frost I fynd, • 
And by myne eie the Crow his clawe dooth wright : 

Dehght is layd abedde ; and pleasure past ; 

No Sonne now shines ; cloudes han all overcast. 

Now leave, ye shepheards boyes, your merry glee ; 
My Muse is hoarse and wearie of thys stounde : 
Here will I hang my pype upon this tree : 
Was never pype of reede did better sounde. 
Winter is come that blowes the bitter blaste, 
And after Winter dreerie death does hast. 

Gather together ye my little flocke, 

IVIy little flock, that was to me so hefe ; 

Let me, ah ! lette me in your foldes ye lock, 

Ere the breme^ Winter breede you greater griefe. 
Winter is come, that blowes the balefull breath, 
And after Winter commeth timely death. 

Adieu, delightes, that lulled me asleepe ; 
Adieu, my deare, whose love I bought so deare ; 
Adieu, my little Lambes and loved sheepe ; 
Adieu, ye Woodes, that oft my witnesse were : 

Adieu, good Hobbinoll, that was so true, 

Tell Rosalind, her Colin bids her adieu. 

[From The Faerie Qneene, Bk. i. 1589-90.] 

The Red Cross Knight and Una. 

A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine, 
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde, 
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine, 
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde ; 
Yet armes till that time did he never wield. 
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt, 
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield : 
Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt. 
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt. 
* sharp. 



294 



THE E.YGLISH POETS. 



And on his brest a bloodie Crosse he bore, 
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord, 
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore, 
And dead, as living, ever him ador'd : 
Upon his shield the like was also scor'd. 
For soveraine hope which in his helpe he had. 
Right faithfull true he was in deede and word, 
But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad ; 
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad. 

Upon a great adventure he was bond, 
That greatest Gloriana to him gave, 
(That greatest Glorious Oueene of Faery lond) 
To winne him worshippe, and her grace to have, 
Which of all earthly thinges he most did crave : 
And ever as he rode his hart did earne 
To prove his puissance in battel! brave 
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne, 
Upon his foe, a Dragon horrible and stearne. 

A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside, 
Upon a lowly Asse more white then snow, 
Yet she much whiter ; but the same did hide * 
Under a vele, that wimpled was full low ; 
And over all a blacke stole shee did throw : 
As one that inly mournd, so was she sad. 
And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow ; 
Seemed in heart some hidden care she had, 
And by her, in a line, a milkewhite lambe she lad. 

So pure and innocent, as that same lambe. 
She was in life and every vertuous lore ; 
And by descent from Royall lynage came 
Of ancient Kinges and Queenes, that had of yore 
Their scepters stretcht from East to Westerne shore, 
And all the world in their subjection held ; 
Till that infernall feend with foule uprore 
Forwasted all their land, and them expeld ; 
Whom to avenge she had this Knight from far compeld. 



SPENSER. 295 



Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag, 
That lasie seemd, in being ever last, 
Or wearied with bearing of her bag 
Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past. 
The day with cloudes was suddeine overcast, 
And angry Jove an hideous storme of raine 
Did poure into his Lemans lap so fast. 
That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain ; 
And this laire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain. 

Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand, 
A shadie grove not farr away they spide, 
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand ; 
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride, 
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide, 
Not perceable with power of any starr : 
And all within were pathes and alleles wide. 
With footing worne, and leading inward farr. 
Faire harbour that them seems, so in they entred ar. 

And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led. 
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony. 
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dred, 
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky. 
Much can they praise the trees so straight and h)'. 
The sayling Pine ; the Cedar proud and tall ; 
The vine-propp Elme ; the Poplar never dry ; 
The builder Oake, sole king of forests all ; 
The Aspine good for staves ; the Cypresse funerall ; 

The Laurell, meed of mightie Conquerours 
And Poets sage ; the Firre that weepeth still : 
The Willow, worne of forlorne Paramours ; 
The Eugh, obedient to the benders will ; 
The Birch for shaftes ; the Sallow for the mill ; 
The Mirrhe sweete-bleeding in the bitter wound ; 
The warlike Beech ; the Ash for nothing ill ; 
The fruitfuU Olive ; and the Platane round ; 
The carver Holme ; the Maple seeldom inward sound. 



296 THE ENGLISH PaETS. 

Led with delight, they thus beguile the way, 
Untill the blustring storme is overblowne ; 
When, weening to returne whence they did stray, 
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne, 
But wander too and fro in waies unknowne, 
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene. 
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne : 
So many pathes, so many turnings seene, 
That which of them to take in diverse doubt they been. 

The House of Pride. 

High above all a cloth of State was spred, 
And a rich throne, as bright as sunny day; 
On which there sate, most brave embellished 
With royall robes and gorgeous array, 
A mayden Queene that shone as Titans ray, 
In glistring gold and perelesse pretious stone ; 
Yet her bright blazing beautie did assay 
To dim the brightnesse of her glorious throne, 
As envying her selfe, that too exceeding shone : 

Exceeding shone, like Phoebus fayrest childe. 
That did presume his fathers fyrie wayne. 
And flaming mouthes of steedes, unwonted wilde. 
Through highest heaven with weaker hand to rayne : 
Proud of such glory and advancement vayne. 
While flashing beames do daze his feeble eyen. 
He leaves the welkin way most beaten playne. 
And, rapt with whirling wheeles, inflames the skyen 
With fire not made to burne, but fayrely for to shyne. 

So proud she shyned in her princely state. 
Looking to heaven, for earth she did disdayne, 
And sitting high, for lowly she did hate : 
Lo ! underneath her scornefull feete was layne 
A dreadful! Dragon with an hideous trayne ; 
And in her hand she held a mirrhour bright, 
Wherein her face she often vewed fayne, 
And in her sclfc-lov'd semblance took delight ; 
For she was wondrous faire, as any living wight. 



SPENSER. 297 

Of griesly Pluto she the daughter was, 
And sad Proserpina, the Queene of hell ; 
Yet did she thinke her pearelesse worth to pas 
That parentage, with pride so did she swell ; 
And thundring Jove, that high in heaven doth dwell 
And wield the world, she claymed for her syre, 
Or if that any else did Jove excell ; 
For to the highest she did still aspyre. 
Or, if ought higher were than that, did it desyre. 

And proud Lucifera men did her call. 
That made her selfe a Queene, and crownd to be ; 
Yet rightfull kingdome she had none at all, 
Ne heritage of native soveraintie ; 
But did usurpe with wrong and tyrannie 
Upon the scepter which she now did hold : 
Ne ruld her Realme with lawes, but pollicie, 
And strong advizement of six wisards old, 
That, with their counsels bad, her kingdome did uphold. 

Soone as the Elfin knight in presence came, 
And false Duessa, seeming Lady fayre, 
A gentle Husher, Vanitie by name. 
Made rowme, and passage for them did prepaire : 
So goodly brought them to the lowest stayre 
Of her high throne ; where they, .on humble knee 
Making obeysaunce, did the cause declare, 
Why they were come her roiall state to see, 
To prove the wide report of her great Majestee, 

With loftie eyes, halfe loth to looke so lowe, 
She thancked them in her disdainefull wise ; 
Ne other grace vouchsafed them to showe 
Of Princesse worthy ; scarse them bad arise. 
Her Lordes and Ladies all this while devise 
Themselves to setten forth to straungers sight : 
Some frounce their curled heare in courtly guise ; 
Some prancke their ruffes ; and others trimly dight 
Their gay attyre ; each others greater pride does spight. 
****** 



298 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Suddein upriseth from her stately place 
The roiall Dame, and for her coche doth call : 
All hurtlen forth ; and she, with princely pace, 
As faire Aurora in her purple pall 
Out of the East the dawning day doth call. 
So forth she comes ; her brightnes brode doth blaze. 
The heapes of people, thronging in the hall. 
Doe ride each other upon her to gaze : 
Her glorious glitterand light doth all mens eies amaze. 

So forth she comes, and to her coche does clyme, 
Adorned all with gold and girlonds gay, 
That seemd as fresh as Flora in her prime ; 
And strove to match, in roiall rich array, 
Great Junoes golden chayre ; the which, they say, 
The gods stand gazing on, when she does ride 
To Joves high hous through heavens bras-paved way, 
Drawne of fayre Pecocks, that excell in pride, 
And full of Argus eyes their tayles dispredden wide. 

Una's Marriage. 

Then forth he called that his daughter fayre, 
The fairest Un', his onely daughter deare, 
His onely daughter and his only hayre ; 
Who forth proceeding with sad sober cheare. 
As bright as doth the morning starre appeare 
Out of the East, with flaming lockes bedight, 
To tell that dawning day is drawing neare. 
And to the world does bring long-wished light : 
So faire and fresh that Lady shewd herselfe in sight. 

So faire and fresh, as freshest flovvre in May ; 
For she had layd her mournefull stole aside, 
And widow-like sad wimple throwne away, 
Wherewith her heavenly bcautic she did hide, 
Whiles on her wcarie journey she did ride ; 
And on her now a garment she did wcare 
All lilly white, withouttcn spot or pride. 
That seemd like silkc and silver woven ncare ; 
13ul neither silke nor silver therein did appcarc. 



SPENSER. 299 

The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame, 

And glorious light of her sunshyny face, 

To tell were as to strive against the streame : 

My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace 

Her heavenly lineaments for to enchace. 

Ne wonder ; for her own deare loved knight, 

All were she daily with himselfe in place, 

Did wonder much at her celestial sight : 
Oft had he seene her faire, but never so faire dight. 
* * * * * * 

His owne two hands the holy knotts did knitt, 
That none but death for ever can divide ; 
His owne two hands, for such a turne most fitt, 
The housling fire did kindle and provide, 
And holy water thereon sprinckled wide ; 
At which the bushy Teade^ a groome did light. 
And sacred lamp in secret chamber hide, 
Where it should not be quenched day nor night, 
For feare of evil fates, but burnen ever bright. 

Then gan they sprinckle all the posts with wine, 
And made great feast to solemnize that day : 
They all perfumde with frankincense divine. 
And precious odours fetcht from far away, 
That all the house did sweat with great aray : 
And all the while sweete Musicke did apply 
Her curious skill the warbling notes to play, 
To drive away the dull Melancholy ; 
The whiles one sung a song of love and jollity. 

During the which there was an heavenly noise 
Heard sownd through all the Pallace pleasantly, 
Like as it had bene many an Angels voice 
Singing before th' eternall majesty. 
In their trinall triplicitics on hye : 
Yett wist no creature whence that hevenly sweet 
Proceeded, yet each one felt secretly 
Himselfe thereby refte of his sences meet, 
And ravished with rare impression in his sprite. 
* torch. 



300 THE ENGLISH POETS. . . 

Great joy was made that day of young and old, 
And solemne feast proclaymd throughout the land, 
That their exceeding merth may not be told : 
Suffice it heare by signes to understand 
The usuall joyes at knitting of loves band. 
Thrise happy man the knight himselfe did hold. 
Possessed of his Ladies hart and hand ; 
And ever, when his eie did her behold, 
His heart did seeme to melt in pleasures manifold. 

Her joyous presence, and sweet company, 
In full content he there did long enjoy ; 
Ne wicked envy, ne vile gealosy. 
His deare delights were hable to annoy ; 
Yet, swimming in that sea of blisfull joy, 
He nought forgott how he whilome had sworne, 
In case he could that monstrous beast destroy, 
Unto his Faery Oueene backe to retourne ; 
The which he shortly did, and Una left to mourne. 

Now, strike your sailes, yee jolly Mariners, 
For we be come unto a quiet rode. 
Where we must land some of our passengers, 
And light this weary vessell of her lode : 
Here she a while may make her safe abode, 
Till she repaired have her tackles spent. 
And wants supplide ; And then againe abroad 
On the long voiage whereto she is bent : 
Well may she speede, and fairely finish her intent ! 

[From The Faerie Queene, Ek. ii.] 

Phaedria and the Idle Lake. 
A harder lesson to learne Continence 
In joyous pleasure then in grievous paine ; 
For sweetnesse doth allure the weaker sence 
So strongly, that uneathes it can refraine 
From that which feeble nature covets faine : 
But griefe and wrath, that be her enemies 
And foes of life, she better can abstaine : 
Yet vcrtue vauntcs in both her victories. 
And Guyon in them all shcwes goodly maysterics. 



SPENSER. 301 

Whom bold Cymochles travelling to finde, 
With cruell purpose bent to wreake on him 
The wrath which Atin kindled in his mind, 
Came to a river, by whose utmost brim 
Wayting to passe, he saw whereas did swim 
Along the shore, as swift as glaunce of eye, 
A litle Gondelay, bedecked trim 
With boughes and arbours woven cunningly, 
That like a litle forrest seemed outwardly. 

And therein sate a Lady fresh and fayre, 
Making sweet solace" to herselfe alone : 
Sometimes she song as lowd as larke in ayre, 
Sometimes she laught, as merry as Pope Jone ; 
Yet was there not with her else any one, 
That to her might move cause of meriment : 
Matter of merth enough, though there were none. 
She could devise ; and thousand waies invent 
To feede her foolish humour and vaine jolliment. 

Which when far off Cymochles heard and saw, 
He lowdly cald to such as were abord 
The little barke unto the shore to draw, 
And him to ferry over that deepe ford. 
The merry mariner unto his word 
Soone hearkened, and her painted bote streightway 
Tumd to the shore, where that same warlike Lord 
She in receiv'd ; but Atin by no way 
She would admit, albe the knight her much did pray. 

Eftsoones her shallow ship away did slide, 
More swift then swallow sheres the liquid skye, 
Withouten oare or Pilot it to guide. 
Or winged canvas with the wind to fly : 
Onely she tumd a pin, and by and by 
It cut away upon the yielding wave, 
Ne cared she her course for to apply ; 
For it was taught the way which she would have. 
And both from rocks and flats it selfe could wisely save. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And all the way the wanton Damsell found 
New merth her passenger to entertaine ; 
For she in pleasaunt purpose did abound, 
And greatly joyed merry tales to faine, 
Of which a store-house did with her remaine : 
Yet seemed, nothing well they her became ; 
For all her wordes she drownd with laughter vaine. 
And wanted grace in utt'ring of the same, 
That turned all her pleasaunce to a scoffing game. 

And other whiles vaine toyes she would devize, 
As her fantasticke wit did most delight : 
Sometimes her head she fondly would aguize 
With gaudy girlonds, or fresh flowrets dight 
About her necke, or rings of rushes plight : 
Sometimes, to do him laugh, she would assay 
To laugh at shaking of the leaves light 
Or to behold the water worke and play 
About her little frigot, therein making way. 

Her light behaviour and loose dalliaunce 
Gave wondrous great contentment to the knight, 
That of his way he had no sovenaunce. 
Nor care of vow'd revenge and cruell fight. 
But to weake wench did yield his martiall might : 
So easie was to quench his flamed minde 
With one sweete drop of sensuall delight. 
So easie is t' appease the stormy winde 
Of malice in the calme of pleasaunt womankind. 

Diverse discourses in their way they spent ; 
Mongst which Cymochles of her questioned 
Both what she was, and what that usage ment. 
Which in her cott she daily practized ? 
' Vaine man,' (saide she) ' that wouldest be reckoned 
A slraunger in thy home, and ignoraunt 
Of Phacdria, (for so my name is red) 
Of Phacdria, thine owne fellow sei'vaunt ; 
For thou to serve Acrasia thy sclfc doest vaunt. 



SPENSER. 303 

* In this wide Inland sea, that hight by name 
The Idle lake, my wandring ship I row, 
That knowes her port, and thither sayles by ayme, 
Ne care, ne feare I how the wind do blow, 
Or whether swift I wend, or whether slow : 
Both slow and swift alike do serve my toume ; 
Ne swelHng Neptune ne lowd thundring Jove 
Can chaunge my cheare, or make me ever mourne : 
My httle boat can safely passe this perilous bourne.' 

Whiles thus she talked, and whiles thus she toyd, 
They were far past the passage which he spake, 
And come unto an Island waste and voyd. 
That floted in the midst of that great lake ; 
There her small Gondelay her port did make, 
And that gay payre, issewirig on the shore, 
Disburdned her. Their way they forward take 
Into the land that lay them faire before. 
Whose pleasaunce she him shewd, and plentifull great store. 

It was a chosen plott of fertile land, 
Emongst wide waves sett, like a Htle nest, 
As if it had by Natures cunning hand 
Bene choycely picked out from all the rest, 
And laid forth for ensample of the best : 
No daintie flowre or herbe that growes on grownd. 
No arborett with painted blossomes drest 
And smelling sweete, but there it might be fownd 
To bud out faire, and throwe her sweete smels al arownd. 

No tree whose braunches did not bravely spring ; 
No braunch whereon a fine bird did not sitt ; 
No bird but did her shrill notes sweetely sing ; 
No song but did containe a lovely ditt. 
Trees, braunches, birds, and songs, were framed fitt 
For to allure fraile mind to carelesse ease : 
Carelesse the man scone woxe, and his weakc witt 
Was overcome of thing that did him please ; 
So pleased did his wrathful! purpose faire appease. 



304 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Thus when shee had his eyes and sences fed 
With false delights, and fild with pleasures vayn, 
Into a shady dale she soft him led, 
And layd him downe upon a grassy playn ; 
And her sweete selfe without dread or disdayn 
She sett beside, laying his head disarmd 
In her loose lap, it softly to sustayn. 
Where soone he slumbred fearing not be harmd : 
The whiles with a love lay she thus him sweetly charmd. 

' Behold, O man ! that toilesome paines doest take, 
The flowrs, the fields, and all that pleasaunt growes, 
How they them selves doe thine ensample make. 
Whiles nothing envious nature them forth throwes 
Out of her fruitfull lap ; how no man knowes, 
They spring, they bud, they blossome fresh and faire, 
And decke the world with their rich pompous showes ; 
Yet no man for them taketh paines or care. 
Yet no man to them can his carefuU paines compare. 

' The lilly. Lady of the flowring field, 
The flowre-deluce, her lovely Paramoure, 
Bid thee to them thy fruitlesse labors yield. 
And soone leave off this toylsome weary stoure : 
Loe, loe ! how brave she decks her bounteous boure, 
With silkin curtens and gold coverletts, 
Therein to shrowd her sumptuous Belamoure ; 
Yet nether spinnes nor cards, ne cares nor fretts, 
But to her mother Nature all her cares she letts. 

* Why then doest thou, O man ! that of them all 
Art Lord, and eke of nature Soveraine, 
Wilfully make thyselfe a wretched thrall, 
And waste thy joyous howres in needelcsse paine, 
Seeking for daunger and adventures vaine ? 
What bootes it al to have, and nothing use ? 
Who shall him rew that swimming in the maine 
Will die for thrist, and water doth refuse ? 
Refuse such fruitlesse toile, and present pleasures chusc.' 



SPENSER. 305 

By this she had him lulled fast asleepe, 
That of no worldly thing he care did take : 
Then she with liquors strong his eies did steepe, 
That nothing should him hastily awake. 
So she him lefte, and did her selfe betake 
Unto her boat again, with which she clefte 
The slouthfull wave of that griesy lake : 
Soone shee that Island far behind her lefte, 
And now is come to that same place where first she wefte\ 



The Cave of Mammon. 

As Pilot well expert in perilous wave. 
That to a stedfast starre his course hath bent, 
When foggy mistes or cloudy tempests have 
The faithfull light of that faire lampe yblent, 
And cover'd heaven with hideous dreriment, 
Upon his card and compas firmes.his eye, 
The maysters of his long experiment. 
And to them does the steddy helme apply, 
Bidding his winged vessell fairely forward fly : 

So Guyon having lost his trustie guyde. 
Late left beyond that Ydle lake, proceedes 
Yet on his way, of none accompanyde ; 
And evermore himselfe with comfort feedes 
Of his own vertues and praise-worthie deedes. 
So, long he yode, yet no adventure found. 
Which fame of her shrill trumpet worthy reedes ; 
For still he traveild through wide v/astfull ground, 
That nought but desert wildernesse shewed all around. 

At last he came unto a gloomy glade, 
Cover'd with boughes and shrubs from heavens light, 
Whereas he sitting found in secret shade 
An uncouth, salvage, and uncivile wight, 
Of griesly hew and fowle ill favour'd sight ; 

* was wafted. 
VOL. I. X 



3o6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

His face with smoke was tand, and eies were bleard, 

His head and beard with sout were ill bedight, 

His cole-blacke hands did seeme to have been seard 

In smythes fire-spitting forge, and nayles like clawes appeard. 

His yron cote, all overgrowne with rust. 
Was underneath enveloped with gold ; 
Whose glistring glosse, darkned with filthy dust, 
Well yet appeared to have beene of old 
A worke of rich entayle and curious mould, 
Woven with antickes and wyld ymagery ; 
And in his lap a masse of coyne he told. 
And turned upside downe, to feede his eye 
And covetous desire with his huge threasury. 

And round about him lay on every side 
Great heapes of gold that never could be spent ; 
Of which som.e were rude owre, not purifide 
Of Mulcibers devouring element ; 
Some others were new driven, and distent 
Into great Ingowes and to wedges square ; 
Some in round plates withouten moniment ; 
But most were stampt, and in their metal bare 
The antique shapes of kings and kesars straunge and rare. 

Soone as he Guyon saw, in great affright 
And haste he rose for to remove aside 
Those pretious hils from straungers envious sight, 
And downe them poured through an hole full wide 
Into the hollow earth, them there to hide. 
But Guyon, lightly to him leaping, stayd 
His hand that trembled as one tcrrifyde ; 
And though himsclfe were at the sight dismayd, 
Yet him perforce restraynd, and to him doubtfull sayd : 

' What art thou, man, (if man at all thou art) 
That here in desert hast thine habitaunce. 
And these rich hils of wclth doest hide apart 
From the worldcs eye, and from her right usauncc ?' 
Thereat, with staring eyes fixed askaunce, 



SPEiVSEI?. 207 

In great disdaine he answerd : ' Hardy Elfe, 

That darest view my direfull countenaunce, ' 

I read thee rash and heedlesse of thy selfe, 

To trouble my still seate, and heapes of pretious pelfe. 
' God of the world and worldlings I me call, 

Great Mammon, greatest god below the skye, ' 

That of my plenty poure out unto all, 

And unto none my graces do envye : ' 

Riches, renowme, and principality. 

Honour, estate, and all this world'es good, 

For which men swinck and sweat incessantly, 

Fro me do flow into an ample flood. 

And in the hollow earth have their eternall brood. 

'Wherefore, if me thou deigne to serve and sew^ 
At thy commaund lo ! all these mountaines bee : 
Or if to thy great mind, or greedy vew, 
All these may not suffise, there shall to' thee 
Ten times so much be nombred francke and free ' 

Mammon,' (said he) 'thy godheads vaunt is vaine, 
And idle offers of thy golden fee ; 
To them that covet such eye-glutting gaine 
Proffer thy giftes, and fitter servaunts entertaine. 

' Me ill besits, that in der-doing armes 
And honours suit my vowed dales do spend. 
Unto thy bounteous baytes and pleasing charmes, 
With which weake men thou witchest, to attend ; 
Regard of worldly mucke doth fowly blend, 
And low abase the high heroicke spright, 
That joyes for crownes and kingdomes to contend • 
Faire shields, gay steedes, bright armes be my delight; 
Those be the riches fit for an advent'rous knight.' 

'Vaine glorious Elfe,' (saide he) ' doest not thou weet 
Ihat money can thy wantes at will supply? 
Sheilds, steeds, and armes, and all things for thee meet, 
It can purvay in twinckling of an eye ; 
And crownes and kingdomes to thee multiply. 

' follow. 
X 2 



3o8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Do not I kings create, and throw the crowne 
Sometimes to him that low in dust doth ly, 
And him that raignd into his rowme thrust downe, 
And whom I lust do heape with glory and renowne ? ' 

'All otherwise' (saide he) 'I riches read, 
And deeme them roote of all disquietnesse ; 
First got with guile, and then preserv'd with dread, 
And after spent with pride and lavishnesse, 
Leaving behind them griefe and heavinesse : 
Infinite mischiefes of them doe arize. 
Strife and debate, bloodshed and bitternesse, 
Outrageous wrong, and hellish covetize. 
That noble heart as great dishonour doth despize. 

' Ne thine be kingdomes, ne the scepters thine ; 
But realmes and rulers thou doest both confound, 
And loyall truth to treason doest incline : 
Witnesse the guiltlesse blood pourd oft on ground, 
The crowned often slaine, the slayer cround ; 
The sacred Diademe in peeces rent, 
And purple robe gored with many a wound. 
Castles surprizd, great cities sackt and brent ; 
So mak'st thou kings, and gaynest wrongfuU government. 

' Long were to tell the troublous stormes that tosse 
The private state, and make the life unsweet : 
Who swelling sayles in Caspian sea doth crosse, 
And in frayle wood on Adrian gulf doth fleet, 
Doth not, I weene, so many evils meet.' 
Then Mammon wexing wroth : ' And why then,' sayd, 
' Are mortall men so fond and undiscreet 
So evill thing to seeke unto their ayd. 
And having not complainc, and having it upbrayd?' 

' Indecde,' (quoth he) 'through fowle intcmpcrauncc, 
Frayle men are oft captiv'd to covctise ; 
liut would they thinke with how small allowauncc 
Untroubled Nature doth her selfc suffise, 
Such superfluities they would despise, 



SPENSER. 

Which with sad cares empeach our native joyes. 
At the well-head the purest streames arise ; 
But mucky filth his braunching armes annoyes, 
And with uncomely weedes the gentle wave accloyes. 

' The antique world, in his first flowring youth, 
Fownd no defect in his Creators grace ; 
But with glad thankes, and unreproved truth, 
The gifts of soveraine bounty did embrace : 
Like Angels life was then mens happy cace ; 
But later ages pride, like corn-fed steed, 
Abusd her plenty and fat swolne encreace 
To all licentious lust, and gan exceed 
The measure of her meane and naturall first need. 

' Then gan a cursed hand the quiet wombe 
Of his great Grandmother with Steele to wound, 
And the hid treasures in her sacred tombe 
With Sacriledge to dig. Therein he fownd 
Fountaines of gold and silver to abownd. 
Of which the matter of his huge desire 
And pompous pride eftsoones he did compownd ; 
Then avarice gan through his veines inspire 
His greedy flames, and kindled life-devouring fire.' 

* Sonne,' (said he then) ' Ictt be thy bitter scorne, 
And leave the rudenesse of that antique age 

To them that liv'd therin in state forlorne : 
Thou, that doest live in later times, must wage 
Thy workes for wealth, and life for gold engage. 
If then thee list my offred grace to use. 
Take what thou please of all this surplusage ; 
If thee list not, leave have thou to refuse: 
But refused doe not afterward accuse.' 

* Me list not' (said the Elfin knight) 'receave 
Thing offred, till I know it well be gott ; 

Ne wote I but thou didst these goods bereave 
Yrom rightfull owner by unrighteous lott, 
Or that bloodguiltincsse or guile them blott.' 



309 



3IO THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' Perdy,' (quoth he) ' yet never eie did vew, 

Ne tong did tell, ne hand these handled not ; 

But safe I have them kept in secret mew 

From havens sight, and powre of al which them poursevv.' 

' What secret place ' (quoth he) ' can safely hold 
So huge a masse, and hide from heaven's eie ? 
Or where hast thou thy wonne, that so much gold 
Thou canst preserve from wrong and robbery ? ' 
' Come thou,' (quoth he) ' and see.' So by and by 
Through that thick covert he him led, and fownd 
A darkesome way, which no man could descry, 
That deep descended through the hollow grownd, 
And was with dread and horror compassed arownd. 

At length they came into a larger space, 
That stretcht itselfe into an ample playne ; 
Through which a beaten broad high way did trace, 
That streight did lead to Plutoes griesly rayne. 
By that wayes side there sate internal! Payne, 
And fast beside him sat tumultuous Strife : 
The one in hand an yron whip did strayne, 
The other brandished a bloody knife ; 
And both did gnash their teeth, and both did threten life. 

On thother side in one consort there sate 
Cruell Revenge, and rancorous Despight, 
Disloyall Treason, and hart-burning Hate ; 
But gnawing Gealosy, out of their sight 
Sitting alone, his bitter lips did bight ; 
And trembling Feare still to and fro did fly, 
And found no place wher safe he shroud him might : 
Lamenting Sorrow did in darkncs lye. 
And Shame his ugly face did hide from living eye. 

And over them sad Horror with grim hew 
Did alwaies sore, beating his yron wings ; 
And after him Owles and Night-ravens ficw, 
The hateful! messengers of heavy things, 
Of death and dolor telling sad tidings, 



SPENSER. ' 31 r 

Whiles sad Celeno, sitting on a clifte, 
A song of bale and bitter sorrow sings, 
That hart of flint asonder could have rifte ; 
Which having ended after him she flyeth swifte. 

All these before the gates of Pluto lay, 
By whom they passing spake unto them nought ; 
But th' Elfin knight with wonder all the way 
Did feed his eyes, and fild his inner thought. 
At last him to a litle dore he brought, 
That to the gate of Hell, which gaped wide. 
Was next adjoyning, ne them parted ought : 
Betwixt them both was but a little stride, 
That did the house of Richesse from hell-mouth divide. 

Before the dore sat selfe-consuming Care, 
Day and night keeping wary watch and ward, 
For feare least Force or Fraud should unaware 
Breake in, and spoile the treasure there in gard : 
Ne would he suffer Sleepe once thither-ward 
Approch, albe his drowsy den were next ; 
For next to death is Sleepe to be compard ; 
Therefore his house is unto his annext : 
Here Sleep, ther Richesse, and Hel-gate them both betwext. 

So soon as Mammon there arrivd, the dore 
To him did open and affoorded way: 
Him followed eke Sir Guyon evermore, 
Ne darkenesse him, ne daunger might dismay. 
Soone as he entred was, the dore streight way 
Did shutt, and from behind it forth there lept 
An ugly feend, more fowle then dismall day, 
The which with monstrous stalke behind him stept, 
And ever as he went dew watch upon him kept. 

Well hoped hee, ere long that hardy guest. 
If ever covetous hand, or lustfull eye. 
Or lips he layd on thing that likte him best, 
Or ever sleepe his eie-strings did untye. 
Should be his pray. And therefore stili on hye 



3i: 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



He over him did hold his cruell clavves, 
Threatning with greedy gripe to doe him dye, 
And rend in peeces with his ravenous pawes, 
If ever he transgrest the fatall Stygian lawes. 

That houses forme within was rude and strong, 
Lyke an huge cave hewne out of rocky cHfte, 
From whose rough vaut the ragged breaches hong 
Embost with massy gold of glorious guifte, 
And with rich metall loaded every rifte, 
That heavy mine they did seeme to threatt ; 
And over them Arachne high did lifte 
Her cunning web, and spred her subtile nett, 
Enwrapped in fowle smoke and clouds more black than Jett. 

Both roofe, and floore, and walls, were all of gold, 
But overgrowne with dust and old decay, 
And hid in darkenes, that none could behold 
The hew thereof; for vew of cherefull day 
Did never in that house it selfe display, 
But a faint shadow of uncertein light : 
Such as a lamp, whose life does fade away. 
Or as the Moone, cloathed with clowdy night. 
Does show to him that walkes in feare and sad affright. 

In all that rowme was nothing to be scene 
But huge great yron chests, and coffers strong. 
All bard with double bends, that none could weene 
Them to efforce by violence or wrong : 
On every side they placed were along ; 
But all the grovvnd with sculs was scattered, 
And dead mens bones, which round about were flong ; 
Whose lives, it seemed, whilome there were shed, 
And their vile carcases now left unburied. 



SPENSER. 3 1 3 



The Bower of Bliss. 



Thence passing forth, they shortly doe arryve 
Whereas the Bowre of Bhsse was situate ; 
A place pickt out by choyce of best alyve, 
That natures worke by art can imitate : 
In which whatever in this worldly state 
Is sweete and pleasing unto living sense, 
Or that may dayntest fantasy aggrate^ 
Was poured forth with plentifull dispence, 
And made there to abound with lavish affluence. 

Goodly it was enclosed rownd about, 
As well their entred guestes to keep within, 
As those unruly beasts to hold without ; 
Yet was the fence thereof but weake and thin : 
Nought feard theyr force that fortilage to win, 
But wisedomes powre, and temperaunces might, 
By which the mightiest things efforced bin : 
And eke the gate was wrought of substaunce light, 
Rather for pleasure then for battery or fight. 

Yt framed was of precious yvory. 
That seemd a worke of admirable witt ; 
And therein all the famous history 
Of Jason and Medea was ywritt ; 
Her mighty charmes, her furious loving fitt ; 
His goodly conquest of the golden fleece. 
His falsed fayth, and love too lightly flitt ; 
The wondred Argo, which in venturous peece 
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flowr of Greece. 
* * * * * * 

Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound. 
Of all that mote delight a daintie eare, 
Such as attonce might not on living ground. 
Save in this Paradise, be heard elsewhere : 
Right hard it was for wight which did it heare, 

* please. 



ir4 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



To read what manner musicke that mote bee ; 

For all that pleasing is to living eare 

Was there consorted in one harmonee ; 

Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree 

The joyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade 
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet ; 
Th' Angelicall soft trembling voyces made 
To th' instruments divine respondence meet ; 
The silver sounding instruments did meet 
With the base murmure of the waters fall ; 
The waters fall with difference discreet. 
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call ; 
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all. 

There, whence that Musick seemed heard to bee, 
Was the faire Witch her selfe now solacing 
With a new Lover, whom, through sorceree 
And witchcraft, she from farre did thither bring : 
There she had him now laid aslombering 
In secret shade after long wanton joyes ; 
Whilst round about them pleasauntly did sing 
Many faire Ladies and lascivious boyes, 
That ever mixt their song with light licentious toyes. 
****** 

The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay : 
Ah ! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine to see, 
In springing flowre the image of thy day. 
Ah ! see the Virgin Rose, how sweetly shee 
Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee, 
That fairer seemes the lesse ye see her may. 
Lo ! see soone after how more bold and free 
Her bared bosome she doth broad display ; 
Lo ! see soone after how she fades and falls away. 

So passeth, in the passing of a day, 
Of mortall life the leafc, the bud, the flowre ; 
Ne more doth florish after first decay. 
That earst was sought to deck both bed and bowre 
Of many a lady', and many a Paramowre. 



Gather therefore the Rose whilest yet is prime, 
For soone comes age that will her pride deflowre ; 
Gather the Rose of love whilest yet is time, 
Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equall crime. 

He ceast ; and then gan all the quire of birdes 
Their diverse notes t' attune unto his lay, 
As in approvaunce of his pleasing wordes. 
The constant payre heard all that he did say, 
Yet swarved not, but kept their forward way 
Through many covert groves and thickets close, 
In which they creeping did at last display 
That wanton Lady with her Lover lose, 
Whose sleepie head she in her lap did soft dispose. 



[From Book iv. 1595-6.] 
Gardens of Venus. 

'Thus having past all perill, I was come 
Within the compassc of that Islands space ; 
The which did seeme, unto my simple doome, 
The onely pleasant and delightfull place 
That ever troden was of footings trace : 
For all that nature by her mother-wit 
Could frame in earth, and forme of substance base, 
Was there ; and all that nature did omit. 
Art, playing second natures part, supplyed it. 

' No tree, that is of count, in greenewood growes, 
From lowest Juniper to Ceder tall. 
No flowre in field, that daintie odour throwes, 
And deckes his branch with blossomes over all, 
But there was planted, or grew naturall : 
Nor sense of man so coy and curious nice, 
But there mote find to please it selfe withall ; 
Nor hart could wish for any queint device, 
But there it present was, and did fraile sense entice. 



3r6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' In such luxurious plentie of all pleasure, 
It seem'd a second paradise to ghesse, 
So lavishly enricht with Natures threasure, 
That if the happie soules, which doe possesse 
Th' Elysian fields and live in lasting blesse, 
Should happen this with living eye to see, 
They soone would loath their lesser happinesse, 
And wish to life return'd againe to bee, 
That in this joyous place they mote have joj^ance free. 

' Fresh shadowes, fit to shroud from sunny ray ; 
Faire lawnds, to take the sunne in season dew ; 
Sweet springs, in which a thousand Nymphs did play ; 
Soft rombling brookes, that gentle slomber drew ; 
High reared mounts, the lands about to view ; 
Low looking dales, disloignd from common gaze ; 
Delightfull bowres, to solace lovers trew ; 
False Labyrinthes, fond runners eyes to daze ; 
All which by nature made did nature selfe amaze. 

' And all without were walkes and alleyes dight 
With divers trees enrang'd in even rankes ; 
And here and there were pleasant arbors pight, 
And shadie seates, and sundry flowring bankes. 
To sit and rest the walkers wearie shankes : 
And therein thousand payres of lovers walkt, 
Praysing their god, and yeclding him great thankcs, 
Ne ever ought but of their true loves talkt, 
Ne ever for rebuke or blame of any balkt. 

'All these together by themselves did sport 
Their spotlesse pleasures and sweet loves content. 
But, farre away from these, another sort 
Of lovers lincked in true harts consent, 
Which loved not as these for like intent, 
But on chast vertue grounded their desire, 
Farre from all fraud or fayncd blandishment ; 
Which, in their spirits kindling zealous fire, 
Brave thoughts and noble decdcs did evermore aspire. 



SPENSER. 3 1 7 



* Such were great Hercules and Hyllus deare 
Trew Jonathan and David trustie tryde 
Stout Theseus and Pirithous his feare ^ 
Pylades and Orestes by his syde ; 
Myld Titus and Gesippus without pryde ; 
Damon and Pythias, whom death could not sever : 
All these, and all that ever had bene tyde 
In bands of friendship, there did live for ever ; 
Whose lives although decay'd, yet loves decayed never. 

'Which when as I, that never tasted blis 
Nor happie howre, beheld with gazefuU eye, 
I thought there was none other heaven then this ; 
And gan their endlesse happinesse envye, 
That being free from feare and gealosye 
Might frankely there their loves desire possesse ; 
Whilest I, through paines and perlous jeopardie. 
Was forst to seeke my lifes deare patronnesse : 
Much dearer be the things which come through hard distresse. 

'Yet all those sights, and ail that else I saw, 
Might not my steps withhold, but that forthright 
Unto that purposd place I did me draw. 
Where as my love was lodged day and night, 
The temple of great Venus, that is hight 
The Oueene of beautie, and of love the mother, 
There worshipped of every living wight ; 
Whose goodly workmanship farre past all other 
That ever were on earth, all were they set together.' 

Wooing of Amoret. 
' Into the inmost Temple thus I came. 
Which fuming all with frankensence I found 
And odours rising from the altars flame. 
Upon an hundred marble pillors round 
The roofe up high was reared from the ground, 
All deckt with crownes, and chaynes, and girlands gay, 
And thousand pretious gifts worth many a pound. 
The which sad lovers for their vowes did pay ; 
And all the ground was strow'd with flowres as fresh as May. 
* companion. 



3i8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' An hundred Altars round about were set, 
All flaming with their sacrifices fire, 
That with the steme thereof the Temple swet, 
Which rould in clouds to heaven did aspire, 
And in them bore true lovers vowes entire : 
And eke an hundred brasen caudrons bright, 
To bath in joy and amorous desire, 
Every of which was to a damzell hight ; 
For all the Priests were damzels in soft linnen dight. 

'Right in the midst the Goddesse selfe did stand 
Upon an altar of some costly masse. 
Whose substance was uneath to understand : 
For neither pretious stone, nor durefull brasse, 
Nor shining gold, nor mouldring clay it was ; 
But much more rare and pretious to esteeme, 
Pure in aspect, and like to christall glasse. 
Yet glasse was not, i-f one did rightly deeme ; 
But, being faire and brickie, likest glasse did seeme. 

'And all about her necke and shoulders flew 
A flocke of litle loves, and sports, and joyes, 
With nimble wings of gold and purple hew ; 
Whose shapes seem'd not like to terrestriall boyes, 
But like to Angels playing heavenly toyes. 
The whilest their eldest brother was away, 
Cupid their eldest brother ; he enjoyes 
The wide kingdome of love with lordly sway. 
And to his law compels all creatures to obay. 

'And all about her altar scattered lay 
Great sorts of lovers piteously complayning, 
Some of their losse, some of their loves delay, 
Some of their pride, some paragons disdayning, 
Some fearing fraud, some fraudulently fayning, 
As every one had cause of good or ill. 
Amongst the rest some one, through Loves constrayning 
Tormented sore, could not containe it still, 
But thus brake forth, that all the temple it did fill. 



SPENSER. 319 

' " Great Venus ! Oueene of beautie and of grace, 
The joy of Gods and men, that under skie 
Doest fayrest shine, and most adorne thy place ; 
That with thy smyHng looke doest pacific 
The raging seas, and makst the stormes to flie ; 
Thee, goddesse, thee the winds, the clouds doe feare, 
And, when thou spredst thy mantle forth on hie. 
The waters play, and pleasant lands appeare. 
And heavens laugh, and al the world shews joyous cheare. 
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

' " So all the world by thee at first was made, 
And dayly yet thou doest the same repayre ; 
Ne ought on earth that merry is and glad, 
Ne ought on earth that lovely is and fayre. 
But thou the same for pleasure didst prepayre : 
Thou art the root of all that joyous is : 
Great God of men and women, queene of th' ayre. 
Mother of laughter, and welspring of blisse, 

graunt that of my love at last I may not misse ! " 

'So did he say : but I with murmure soft, 
That none might heare the sorrow of my hart. 
Yet inly groning deepe and sighing oft. 
Besought her to graunt ease unto my smart. 
And to my wound her gratious help impart. 
Whilest thus I spake, behold ! with happy eye 

1 spyde where at the I doles feet apart 
A bevie of fayre damzels close did lye, 

Wayting when as the Antheme should be sung on hyc. 

' The first of them did seeme of ryper yeares 
And graver countenance then ail the rest : 
Yet all the rest were eke her equall peares. 
Yet unto her obayed all the best. 
Her name was Womanhood ; that she exprest 
By her sad semblant and demeanure wyse : 
For stedfast still her eyes did fixed rest, 
Ne rov'd at random, after gazers guyse. 
Whose luring baytes oftimes doe heedlesse harts cntyGC. 



320 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



'And next to her sate goodly Shamefastnesse, 
Ne ever durst her eyes from ground upreare, 
Ne ever once did looke up from her desse^, 
As if some blame of evill she did feare, 
That in her cheekes made roses oft appeare : 
And her against sweet Cherefulnesse was placed, 
Whose eyes, like twinkling stars in evening cleare. 
Were deckt with smyles that all sad humors chaced, 
And darted forth delights the which her goodly graced. 

' And next to her sate sober Modestie, 
Holding her hand upon her gentle hart ; 
And her against sate comely Curtesie, 
That unto every person knew her part ; 
And her before was seated overthwart 
Soft Silence, and submisse Obedience, 
Both linckt together never to dispart ; 
Both gifts of God, not gotten but from thence, 
Both girlonds of his Saints against their foes offence. 

' Thus sate they all around in seemely rate : 
And in the midst of them a goodly mayd 
Even in the lap of Womanhood there sate. 
The which was all in lilly white arayd, 
With silver streames amongst the linnen stray'd ; 
Like to the Morne, when first her shyning face 
Hath to the gloomy world itselfe bewray'd : 
That same was fayrest Amoret in place, 
Shyning with beauties light and heavenly vertues grace. 

'Whom soone as I beheld, my hart gan throb 
And wade in doubt what best were to be donne ; 
For sacrilege me secm'd the Church to rob. 
And folly seem'd to leave the thing undonne 
Which with so strong attempt I had begonne. 
The, shaking off all doubt and shamefast fcare 
Which Ladies love, I heard, had never wonne 
Mongst men of worth, I to her stepped neare, 
And by the lilly hand her labour'd up to reare. 

' dais. 



SPENSER. 321 



'Thereat that formost matrone me did blame, 
And sharpe rebuke for being over bold ; 
Saying, it was to Knight unseemely shame 
Upon a recluse Virgin to lay hold, 
That unto Venus services was sold. 
To whom I thus : " Nay, but it fitteth best 
For Cupids man with Venus mayd to hold, 
For ill your goddesse services are drest 
By virgins, and her sacrifices let to rest." 

' With that my shield I forth to her did show, 
Which all that while I closely had conceld 
On which when Cupid, with his kilhng bow 
And cruell shafts, emblazond she beheld. 
At sight thereof she was with terror queld, 
And said no more : but I, which all that while 
The pledge of faith, her hand, engaged held. 
Like warie Hynd within the weedie soyle. 
For no intreatie would forgoe so glorious spoyle. 

' And evermore upon the Goddesse face 
Mine eye was fixt, for feare of her offence ; 
Whom when I saw with amiable grace 
To laugh at me, and favour my pretence, 
I was emboldned with more confidence ; 
And nought for nicenesse nor for envy sparing, 
In presence of them all forth led her thence 
All looking on, and like astonisht staring. 
Yet to lay hand on her not one of all them daring. 

'She often prayd, and often me besought, 
Sometime with tender teares to let her goe, 
Sometime with witching smyles ; but yet, for nought 
That ever she to me could say or doe, 
Could she her wished freedome fro me wooe : 
But forth I led her through the Temple gate, 
By which I hardly past with much adoe : 
But that same Ladie, which me friended late 
In entrance, did me also friend in my retratc. 
VOL. I. Y 



322 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

'No lesse did Daunger threaten me with dread, 
Whenas he saw me, maugre all his powre, 
That glorious spoyle of beautie with me lead, 
Then Cerberus, when Orpheus did recoure 
His Leman from the Stygian Princes boure : 
But evermore my shield did me defend 
Against the storme of every dreadfull stoure : 
Thus safely with my love I thence did wend.' 
So ended he his tale, where I this Canto end. 



[From The Faerie Qiiee?ie, Bk. vi.] 

The Quelling of the Blatant Beast. 

Through all estates he found that he had past, 
In which he many massacres had left. 
And to the Clergy now was come at last ; 
In which such spoile, such havocke, and such theft 
He wrought, that thence all goodnesse he bereft, 
That endlesse were to tell. The Elfin Knight, 
Who now no place besides unsought had left. 
At length into a Monastere did light. 
Where he him found despoyling all with maine and might. 

Into their cloysters now he broken had, 
Through which the Monckes he chaced here and there, 
And them pursu'd into their dortours ' sad. 
And searched all their eels and secrets neare : 
In which what filth and ordure did appeare. 
Were yrkesome to report ; yet that foule Beast, 
Nought sparing them, the more did tossc and teare, 
And ransacke all their dennes from most to least, 
Regarding nought religion, nor their holy heast. 

From thence into the sacred Church he broke, 
And robd the Chanccll, and the deskes downc threw. 
And Altars fouled, and blasphemy spoke, 
And th' Images, for all their goodly hew, 
Did cast to ground, whilcst none was them to rew ; 

* dormitories. 



SPENSER. 323 

So all confounded and disordered there : 

But, seeing Calidore, away he flew, 

Knowing his fatall hand by former feare ; 

But he him fast pursuing soone approched nearc. 

Him in a narrow place he overtooke, 
And fierce assailing forst him turne againe : 
Sternely he tumd againe, when he him strooke 
With his sharpe Steele, and ran at him amaine 
With open mouth, that seemed to containe 
A full good pecke within the utmost brim, 
All set with yron teeth in raunges twaine, 
That terrifide his foes, and armed him, 
Appearing like the mouth of Orcus griesly grim : 

And therein were a thousand tongs empight 
Of sundry kindes and sundry quality ; 
Some were of dogs, that barked day and night ; 
And some of cats, that wrawling still did cry ; 
And some of Beares, that groynd continually ; 
And some of Tygres, that did seeme to gren 
And snar at all that ever passed by : 
But most of them were tongues of mortall men, 
Which spake reprochfully, not caring where nor when. 

And them amongst were mingled here and there 
The tongues of Serpents, with three forked stings, 
That spat out poyson, and gore-bloudy gere, 
At all that came within his ravenings ; 
And spake licentious words and hatefull things 
Of good and bad alike, of low and hie, 
Ne Kesars spared he a whit, nor Kings ; 
But either blotted them with infamie. 
Or bit them with his banefuU teeth of injury. 

****** 

Full cruelly the Beast did rage and rore 
To be downe held, and maystred so with might, 
That he gan fret and fonie out bloudy gore, 
Striving in vaine to rare him selfe upright : 
For still, the more he strove, the more the Knight 

Y 2 



324 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Did him suppresse, and forcibly subdew, 
That made him almost mad for fell despight : 
He grind, hee bit, he scratch t, he venim threw, 
And fared like a feend right horrible in hew : 

Or like the hell-borne Hydra, which they faine 
That great Alcides whilome overthrew. 
After that he had labourd long in vaine 
To crop his thousand heads, the which still new 
Forth budded, and in greater number grew. 
Such was the fury of this hellish Beast, 
Whilest Calidore him under him downe threw ; 
Who nathemore his heaxy load releast, 
But aye, the more he rag'd, the more his powre increast. 

Tho, when the Beast saw he mote nought availe 
By force, he gan his hundred tongues apply, 
And sharpely at him to revile and raile 
With bitter termes of shamefull infamy ; 
Oft interlacing many a forged lie. 
Whose like he never once did speake, nor heare, 
Nor ever thought thing so unworthily : 
Yet did he nought, for all that, him forbeare, 
But strained him so streightly that he chokt him neare. 

At last, when as he found his force to shrincke 
And rage to quaile, he tooke a muzzel strong 
Of surest yron, made with many a lincke : 
Therewith he mured up his mouth along, 
And therein shut up his blasphemous tong, 
For never more defaming gentle Knight, 
Or unto lovely Lady doing wrong ; 
And thereunto a great long chaine he tight, 
With which he drew him forth, even in his own despight. 

Like as whylome that strong Tirynthian swaine 
Brought forlii with him the dreadfull dog of hell, 
Against his will fast bound in yron chaine, 
And, roring horribly, did him compcll 
To see the hateful! sunnc, that he might tell 



SPENSER. 325 



To griesly Pluto what on earth was donne, 

And to the other damned ghosts which dwell 

For aye in darkenesse, which day-light doth shonne : 

So led this Knight his captyve with like conquest wonne. 

Yet greatly did the Beast repine at those 
Straunge bands, whose like till then he never bore, 
Ne ever any durst till then impose ; 
And chauffed inly, seeing now no more 
Him liberty was left aloud to rore : 
Yet durst he not draw backe, nor once withstand 
The proved powre of noble Calidore, 
But trembled underneath his mighty hand, 
And like a fearefull dog him followed through the land. 

Him through all Faery land he follow'd so, 
As if he learned had obedience long, 
That all the people, where so he did go, 
Out of their townes did round about him throng. 
To see him leade that Beast in bondage strong ; 
And seeing it much wondred at the sight : 
And all such persons as he earst did wrong 
Rejoyced much to see his captive plight. 
And much admyr'd the Beast, but more admyr'd the Knight 

Thus was this Monster, by the maystring might 
Of doughty Calidore, supprest and tamed. 
That never more he mote endammadge wight 
With his vile tongue, which many had defamed, 
And many causelesse caused to be blamed. 
So did he eeke long after this remaine. 
Until that, (whether wicked fate so framed 
Or fault of men,) he broke his yron chaine, 
And got into the world at liberty againe. 
****** 

So now he raungeth through the world againe, 
And rageth sore in each degree and state ; 
Ne any is that may him now restraine. 
He growen is so great and strong of late. 
Barking and biting all that him doe bate 



326 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Albe they worthy blame, or cleare of crime : 
Ne spareth he most learned wits to rate, 
Ne spareth he the gentle Poets rime ; 
But rends without regard of person or of time. 

Ne may this homely verse, of many meanest, 
Hope to escape his venemous despite, 
More then my former writs, all were they cleanest 
From blameful! blot, and free from all that wite 
With which some wicked tongues did it backebite, 
And bring into a mighty Peres displeasure. 
That never so deserved to endite. 
Therefore do you, my rimes, keep better measure, 
And seeke to please ; that now is counted wise mens threasure. 

[From Bk. vii. (posthumous).] 
Claims of Mutability pleaded before Nature. 

* Yet mauger Jove, and all his gods beside, 
I do possesse the worlds most regiment ; 
As if ye please it into parts divide, 
And every parts inholders to convent, 
Shall to your eyes appeare incontinent. 
And, first, the Earth (great mother of us all) 
That only seemes unmov'd and permanent, 
And unto Mutabilitie not thrall, 
Yet is she chang'd in part, and eeke in generall : 

' For all that from her springs, and is ybredde, 
How-ever faire it flourish for a time. 
Yet see we soone decay; and, being dead, 
To turne againe unto their earthly slime : 
Yet, out of their decay and mortall crime, 
We daily see new creatures to arize, 
And of their Winter spring another Prime, 
Unlike in forme, and chang'd by strange disguise : 
So turne they still about, and change in restlesse wise. 

' As for her tenants, that is, man and beasts, 
The beasts we daily see massacred dy 
As thralls and vassals unto mens bchcasts ; 



SPE.VSEIi. 327 

And men themselves do change continually, 

From youth to eld, from wealth to poverty, 

From good to bad, from bad to worst of all : 

Ne doe their bodies only flit and fly, 

But eeke their minds (which they immortall call) 

Still change and vary thought, as new occasions fall' 



[The Seasons and the Months pass by, and afler them the Hours.] 

And after these there came the Day and Night, 
Riding together both with equall pase, 
Th' one on a Palfrey blacke, the other white ; 
But Night had covered her uncomely face 
With a blacke veile, and held in hand a mace. 
On top whereof the moon and stars were pight ; 
And sleep and darknesse round about did trace : 
But Day did beare upon his scepters hight 
The goodly Sun encompast all with beames bright. 

Then came the Howres, faire daughters of high Jove 
And timely Night ; the which were all endewed 
With wondrous beauty fit to kindle love ; 
But they were virgins all, and love eschewed 
That might forslack the charge to them foreshewed 
By mighty Jove ; who did them porters make 
Of heavens gate (whence all the gods issued) 
Which they did daily watch, and nightly wake 
By even turnes, ne ever did their charge forsake. 

And after all came Life, and lastly Death ; 
Death with most grim and griesly visage scene, 
Yet is he nought but parting of the breath ; 
Ne ought to see, but like a shade to weene, 
Unbodied, unsoul'd, unheard, unseene : 
But Life was like a faire young lusty boy, 
Such as they faine Dan Cupid to have beene, 
Full of delightfull health and lively joy, 
Deckt all with flowres, and wings of gold fit to employ. 



328 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

When these were past, thus gan the Titanesse : 
' Lo ! mighty mother, now be judge, and say 
Whether in all thy creatures more or lesse 
Change doth not raign and bear the greatest sway; 
For who sees not that Time on all doth pray? 
But Times do change and move continually: 
So nothing heere long standeth in one stay : 
Wherefore this lower world who can deny 
But to be subject still to MutabiHty?' 

****** 

' Then, since within this wide great Universe 
Nothing doth firme and permanent appeare. 
But all things tost and turned by transverse, 
What then should let, but I aloft should reare 
My Trophee, and from all the triumph beare ? 
Now judge then, (O thou greatest goddesse trew) 
According as thy selfe doest see and heare, 
And unto me addoom that is my dew ; 
That is, the rule of all, all being rul'd by you.' 

So having ended, silence long ensewed ; 
Ne Nature to or fro spake for a space. 
But with firme eyes afifixt the ground still viewed. 
Meane-while all creatures, looking in her face, 
Expecting th' end of this so doubtfull case. 
Did hang in long suspence what would ensew, 
To whether side should fall the soveraine place : 
At length she, looking up with chearefuU view. 
The silence brake, and gave her doome in speeches few. 

* I well consider all that ye have said, 
And find that all things stedfastnesse do hate 
And changed be ; yet, being rightly wayd, 
They are not changed from their first estate ; 
But by their change their being do dilate, 
And turning to themselves at length againe, 
Do worke tiieir owne perfection so by fate : 
Then over them Change doth not rule and raigne, 
I5ut they raigne over Change, and do their states niaintaine. 



SPE.YSER. 329 

' Cease therefore, daughter, further to aspire, 
And thee content thus to be rul'd by mee, 
For thy decay thou seekst by thy desire ; 
But time shall come that all shall changed bee, 
And from thenceforth none no more change shal see.' 
So was the Titanesse put dovvne and whist. 
And Jove confirm'd in his imperial! see. 
Then was that whole assembly quite dismist. 
And Natur's selfe did vanish, whither no man wist. 



[Fragment of the last Canto.] 

When I bethinke me on that speech whyleare 
Of Mutabilitie, and well it way ! 
Me seemes, that though she all unworthy were 
Of the Heav'ns Rule : yet, very sooth to say, 
In all things else she beares the greatest sway: 
Which makes me loath this state of life so tickle. 
And love of things so vaine to cast away ; 
Whose flowring pride, so fading and so fickle. 
Short Time shall soon cut down with his consuming sickle. 

Then gin I thinke on that which Nature sayd. 
Of that same time when no more Change shall be, 
But stedfast rest of all things, firrnely stayd 
Upon the pillours of Eternity, 
That is contrayr to Mutabilitie ; 
For all that moveth doth in Change delight : 
But thence-forth all shall rest eternally 
With Him that is the God of Sabaoth hight : 
O ! that great Sabaoth God, grant me that Sabaoths sight ! 



330 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Complaint of Thalia (Comedy). 

[From The Teares of the Muses (1591).] 

Where be the sweete delights of learnings treasure 

That wont with Comick sock to beautefie 

The painted Theaters, and fill with pleasure 

The listners eyes and eares with melodie ; 

In which I late was wont to raine as Queene, 

And maske in mirth with Graces well beseene ? 

O ! all is gone ; and all that goodly glee, 
Which wont to be the glorie of gay wits, 
Is layd abed, and no where now to see ; 
And in her roome unseemly Sorrow sits. 
With hollow browes and greisly countenaunce, 
Marring my joyous gentle dalliaunce. 

And him beside sits ugly Barbarisme, 

And brutish Ignorance, ycrept of late 

Out of dredd darknes of the deepe Abysme, 

Where being bredd, he light and heaven does hate : 

They in the mindes of men now tyrannize, 

And the faire Scene with rudencs foule disguize. 

All places they with follie have possest. 
And with vaine toyes the vulgare entertaine ; 
But me have banished, with all the rest 
That whilome wont to wait upon my traine, 
Fine Counterfesaunce, and unhurtfull Sport, 
Delight, and Laughter, deckt in seemly sort. 

All these, and all that els the Comick Stage 

With seasoned wit and goodly pleasance graced, 

By which mans life in his likest image 

Was limned forth, arc wholly now defaced ; 

And those swctc wits, which wont the like to frame, 

Are now dcspizd, and made a laughing game. 



SPENSER. 331 

And he, the man whom Nature selfe had made 
To mock her selfe, and Truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under Mimick shade, 
Our pleasant Willy, ah ! is dead of late : 
With whom all joy and jolly meriment 
Is also deaded, and in dolour drent. 

In stead thereof scoffing Scurrilitie, 
And scornfull Follie with Contempt is crept, 
Rolling in rj-mes of shameles ribaudrie 
Without regard, or due Decorum kept ; 
Each idle wit at will presumes to make. 
And doth the Learneds taske upon him take. 

But that same gentle Spirit, from whose pen 
Large streames of honnie and sweete Nectar flowe, 
Scorning the boldnes of such base-borne men. 
Which dare their follies forth so rashlie throwe, 
Doth rather choose to sit in idle Cell, 
Than so himselfe to mockerie to sell. 

So am I made the servant of the manie, 
And laughing stocke of all that list to scorne ; 
Not honored nor cared for of anie. 
But loath'd of losels as a thing forlorne : 
Therefore I mourne and sorrow with the rest, 
Untill my cause of sorrow be redrest. 



Sonnets. 
[1595-] 

Lyke as a ship, that through the Ocean wyde, 
By conduct of some star, doth make her way ; 
Whenas a storme hath dimd her trusty guyde, 
Out of her course doth wander far astray ! 
So I, whose star, that wont with her bright ray 
Me to direct, with cloudes is over-cast, 
Doe wander now, in darknesse and dismay, 
Through hidden perils round about me plast ; 



332 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Yet hope I well that, when this storme is past, 
My Helice, the lodestar of my lyfe, 
Will shine again, and looke on me at last, 
With lovely light to cleare my cloudy grief, 
Till then I wander carefull, comfortlesse, 
In secret sorow, and sad pensivenesse. 



What guyle is this, that those her golden tresses 
She doth attyre under a net of gold ; 
And with sly skill so cunningly them dresses. 
That which is gold, or heare, may scarse be told ? 
Is it that mens frayle eyes, which gaze too bold. 
She may entangle in that golden snare ; 
And, being caught, may craftily enfold 
Theyr weaker harts, which are not wel aware ? 
Take heed, therefore, myne eyes, how ye doe stare 
Henceforth too rashly on that guilefull net, 
In which, if ever ye entrapped are, 
Out of her bands ye by no meanes shall get. 
Fondnesse it were for any, being free, 
To covet fetters, though they golden bee ! 



Sweet Smile ! the daughter of the Oueene of Love, 
Expressing all thy mothers powrefull art. 
With which she wants to temper angry Jove, 
When all the gods he threats with thundring dart : 
Sweet is thy vertue, as thy selfe sweet art. 
For, when on me thou shinedst late in sadnesse, 
A melting pleasance ran through every part, 
And me revived with hart-robbing gladnesse. 
Whylcst rapt with joy resembling heavenly madnes, 
My soule was ravisht quite as in a traunce ; 
And feeling thence, no more her sorowes sadnesse, 
Fed on the fulnesse of that chearefull glaunce, 
More sweet than Nectar, or Ambrosiall meat, 
Sccmd every bit which thenceforth I did cat. 



SFEiVSE/^. 333 



Joy of my life ! full oft for loving you 
I blesse my lot, that was so lucky placed : 
But then the more your owne mishap I rew, 
That are so much by so meane love embased. 
For, had the equall hevens so much you graced 
In this as in the rest, ye mote invent 
Som hevenly wit, whose verse could have enchased 
Your glorious name in golden moniment. 
But since ye deignd so goodly to relent 
To me your thrall, in whom is little worth ; 
That little, that I am, shall all be spent 
In setting your immortall prayses forth : 
Whose lofty argument, uplifting me, 
Shall lift you up unto an high degree. 



Epithalamion. 

Ye learned sisters, which have oftentimes 

Beene to me ayding, others to adome. 

Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefuU rymes, 

That even the greatest did not greatly scorne 

To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, 

But joyed in theyr praise ; 

And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne, 

Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse, 

Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne, 

And teach the woods and waters to lament 

Your doleful! dreriment : 

Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside ; 

And, having all your heads with girlands crownd, 

Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound ; 

Ne let the same of any be envide : 

So Orpheus did for his owne bride ! 

So I unto my selfe alone will sing ; 

The woods shall to me answer, and my Eccho ring. 



334 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Early, before the worlds light-giving lampe 
His golden beame upon the hils doth spred, 
Having disperst the nights unchearefull dampe, 
Uoe ye awake ; and, with fresh lusty-hed, 
Go to the bowre of my beloved love, 
My truest turtle dove ; 
pjid lier awake ; for Hymen is awake, 
And long since ready forth his maske to move, 
With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake, 
And many a bachelor to waite on him, 
In theyr fresh garments trim. 
Bid her awake therefore, and soone her dight, 
For lo ! the wished day is come at last. 
That shall, for all the paynes and sorrowes past, 
Pay to her usury of long delight : 
And, whylest she doth her dight, 
Doe ye to her of joy and solace sing. 
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare 
Both of the rivers and the forrests greene, 
And of the sea that neighbours to her neare : 
Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene. 
And let them also with them bring in hand 
Another gay girland, 

For my fayre love, of lillyes and of roses, 
Bound truelove wize, with a blew silke riband. 
And let them make great store of bridale poses, 
And let them eeke bring store of other flowers. 
To deck the bridale bowers. 

And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread, 
For feare the stones her tender foot should wrong, 
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along. 
And diapred lyke the discolored mead. 
Which done, doe at her chamber dorc awayt, 
For she will waken strayt ; 
The whiles doe ye this song unto her sing, 
The woods shall to you answer, and your Eccho ring. 
* -x- ■* * -x- * * 



SPEXSER. 



335 



Wake now, my love, awake ! for it is time 
The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed, 
All ready to her silver coche to clyme ; 

And Phoebus gins to shew his gk>rious hed 

Hark! how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laics 

And Carroll of Loves praise. 

The merry Larke hir mattins sings alott ; 

The Thrush replyes ; the Mavis descant playes ; 

The Ouzell shrills ; the Ruddock warbles soft ; 

So goodly all agree, with sweet consent, 

To this dayes merriment. 

Ah' my deere love, why doe ye sleepe thus long. 

When meeter were that ye should now awake, 

T' awayt the comming of your joyous make. 

And hearken to the birds love-learned song, 

The deawy leaves among ! 

For they of joy and pleasance to you smg, _ 

That all the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

My love is now awake out of her dreames, 
And her fayre eyes, like stars that dimmed were 
With darksome cloud, now shew theyr goodly beams 
More bright than Hesperus his head doth rere. 
Come now, ye damzels, daughters of delight, 
Helpe quickly her to dight : 

But first come ye fayre houres, which were begot, 
In Joves sweet paradice of Day and Night ; 
Which doe the seasons of the yeare allot, 
And al, that ever in this world is fayre. 
Doe make and still repayre : 
And ye three handmayds of the Cyprian Queene, 
The which doe still adorne her beauties pride, 
Helpe to addorne my beautifullest bride : 
And, as ye her array, still throw betweene 
Some graces to be seene ; 
And, as ye use to Venus, to her sing, 
The whiles the woods shal answer, and your eccho nnj 



336 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Now is my love all ready forth to come : 
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt : 
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome, 
Prepare your selves ; for he is comming strayt. 
Set all your things in seemely good aray, 
Fit for so joyfuU day : 

The joyfulst day that ever sunne did see, • 
Faire Sun ! shew forth thy favourable ray, 
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be, 
For feare of burning her sunshyny face, 
Her beauty to disgrace. 
O fayrest Phoebus ! father of the Muse ! 
If ever I did honour thee aright, 
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight, 
Doe not thy servants simple boone refuse ; 
But let this day, let this one day, be myne ; 
Let all the rest be thine. 
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud wil sing, 
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring. 



Loe ! where she comes along with portly pace, 
Lyke Phoebe, from her chamber of the East, 
Arysing forth to run her mighty race, 
Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best. 
So well it her beseemes, that ye would weene 
Some angell she had beene. 
Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre, 
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atwcenc, 
Doe lyke a golden mantle her attyre ; 
And, being crowned with a girland grcene, 
Seeme lyke some mayden Ouccne. 
Her modest eyes, abashed to behold 
So many gazers as on her do stare. 
Upon the lowly ground affixed are ; 
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold, 
But Vjlush to heare her prayses sung so loud, 
So farre from being proud. 



SPENSER. 337 

Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing, 

That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

****** 

But if ye saw that which no eyes can see, 
The inward beauty of her lively spright, 
Garnisht with heavenly guifts of high degree, 
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight. 
And stand astonisht lyke to those which red 
Medusaes mazeful hed. 

There dwels sweet love, and constant chastity, 
Unspotted fayth, and comely womanhood, 
Regard of honour, and mild modesty ; 
There vertue raynes as Oueene in royal throne, 
And giveth lawes alone. 
The which the base affections doe obay, 
And yeeld theyr services unto her will ; 
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may 
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill. 
Had ye once scene these her celestial threasures, 
And unrevealed pleasures, 
Then would ye wonder, and her prayses sing, 
That al the woods should answer, and your echo ring. 

Open the temple gates unto my love, 
Open them wide that she may enter in. 
And all the postes adorne as doth behove. 
And all the pillours deck with girlands trim, 
For to receyve this Saynt with honour dew. 
That commeth in to you. 
With trembling steps, and humble reverence. 
She commeth in, before th' Almighties view : 
Of her ye virgins learne obedience, 
When so ye come into those holy places, 
To humble your proud faces : 
Bring her up to th' high altar, that she may 
The sacred ceremonies there partake. 
The which do endlcsse matrimony make ; 
And let the roring Organs loudly play 
VOL. I. 2 



338 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The praises of the Lord in lively notes ; 

The whiles, with hollow throates, 

The Choristers the joyous Antheme sing, 

That al the woods may answere, and their eccho ring. 

Behold, whiles she before the altar stands. 

Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes, 

And blesseth her with his two happy hands, 

How the red roses flush up in her cheekes. 

And the pure snow, with goodly vermill stayne 

Like crimsin dyde in grayne : 

That even th' Angels, which continually 

About the sacred Altare doe remaine. 

Forget their service and about her fly, 

Ofte peeping in her face, that seems more fayre, 

The more they on it stare. 

But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground, 

Are governed with goodly modesty, 

That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry, 

Which may let in a little thought unsownd. 

Why blush ye, love, to give to me your hand, 

The pledge of all our band ! 

Sing, ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing, 

That all the woods may answere, and your eccho ring. 

Now al is done : bring home the bride againe ; 

Bring home the triumph of our victory : 

Bring home with you the glory of her gaine 

With joyance bring her and with jollity. 

Never had man more joyfuU day then this. 

Whom heaven would heape with blis. 

Make feast therefore now all this live-long day ; 

This day for ever to me holy is. 

Poure out the wine without restraint or stay, 

Pourc not by cups, but by the belly full, 

Poure out to all tliat wull. 

And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine, 

That they may sweat, and drunken be withall. 

Crownc yc God Bacchus with a coronall. 

And Hymen also crowne with wreathes of vine; 



SPENSER. 339 

And let the Graces daunce unto the rest, 

For they can doo it best : 

The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing, 

To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne, 

And leave your wonted labors for this day : 

This day is holy ; doe ye write it downe, 

That ye for ever it remember may. 

This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight, 

With Barnaby the bright, 

From whence declining daily by degrees, 

He somewhat loseth of his heat and light. 

When once the Crab behind his back he sees. 

But' for this time it ill ordained was, 

To chose the longest day in all the yeare, 

And shortest night, when longest fitter weare : 

Yet never day so long, but late would passe. 

Ring ye the bels, to make it weare away. 

And bonefiers make all day ; 

And daunce about them, and about them sing, 

That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Ah ! when will this long weary day have end, 
And lende me leave to come unto my love ? 
How slowly do the houres theyr numbers spend? 
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move ? 
Hast thee, O fayrest Planet, to thy home. 
Within the Westerne fome : 
Thy tyred steedes long since have need of rest. 
Long though it be, at last I see it gloome. 
And the bright evening-star with golden creast 
Appeare out of the East. 

Fayre childe of beauty ! glorious lampe of love ! 
That all the host of heaven in rankes doost lead, 
And guydest lovers through the nights sad dread, 
How chearefully thou lookest from above. 
And seemst to laugh atweene thy twinkling light, 
As joying in the sight 

Z2 



340 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Of these glad many, which for joy doe sing, 

That all the woods them answer, and their echo ring ! 



And ye high heavens, the temple of the gods, 

In which a thousand torches flaming bright 

Doe burne, that to us wretched earthly clods 

In dreadful darknesse lend desired light ; 

And all ye powers which in the same remayne, 

More then we men can fayne ! 

Poure out your blessing on us plentiously, 

And happy iniluence upon us raine, 

That we may raise a large posterity, 

"Which from the earth, which they may long possesse 

With lasting happinesse, 

Up to your haughty pallaces may mount ; 

And, for the guerdon of theyr glorious merit, 

May heavenly tabernacles there inherit, 

Of blessed Saints for to increase the count. 

So let us rest, sweet love, in hope of this, 

And cease till then our tymely joyes to sing : 

The woods no more us answer, nor our eccho ring ! 



SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. 



[Philip Sidney was the elJesf son of the well-known Sir Henry Sidney, 
President of V\'ales and Lord Deputy of Ireland under Elizabeth, and 
through his mother. Lady Mary Dudley, grandson of the Duke of Nor- 
thumberland executed in 1553, and nephew of Lord Leicester. He was 
bom at Penshurst Nov. 29, 1554; he entered Shrewsbury School Oct. 17, 
1564, on the same day as his friend and biographer Fulke Greville, after- 
wards Lord Brooke; and in 1568 he was sent to Christ Church, Oxford. 
From May 1572 to May 1575 Sidney was abroad, in France, Germany, and 
Italy ; sheltered in Sir Francis Walsingham's house in Paris on the night 
of St. Bartholomew, and spending a considerable time at Frankfort with 
Hubert Languet the reformer, afterwards his constant correspondent. In 
1575 he appeared at Elizabeth's Court, and took part in the Kenilworth 
progress. In 1577 he was sent as English ambassador to Rodolph II at 
Prague, returning the same year. He seems to have made acquaintance 
with Harvey and Spenser in 157S, and in 1580, while he was in retirement 
at Penshurst, after his letter of remonstrance to the Queen on the Anjou 
match, he and his sister, the well-known Countess of Pembroke, produced 
a joint poetical version of the Psalms, and the Arcadia was begun (pub- 
lished 1590). He returned to Court in the autumn of 1580, and the Astro- 
pkel and Stella sonnets (published 1591) probably date from the following 
year. The Apologie for Poetrie was written in or about 1581 (^the first known 
edition is that of London 1595). Sidney was knighted in the same year. 
In 1583 he married Frances, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham. and 
was for the second time a member of Parliament. In Nov. 1584 he was 
appointed governor of Flushing, and nearly two years later, on Sept. 22, 
1586, received his fatal wound at the battle of Zutphen. A complete edition 
of Sidney's poems was published by the Rev. A. B. Grosart, London, 1877.] 

The extraordinary effect produced by Sidney's personality upon 
English imagination has been in many respects very little weakened 
by time. His name is almost as suggestive now as it was to his 
own generation of a typical brilliancy and charm, clouded by pre- 
mature death and scarcely to be matched again. This unique 
impression however with which the figure of 'Astrophel' is still 
charged, is to a large extent independent of the causes for it which 
influenced his contemporaries. We are for the most part moved 
by Sidney's life, by the romance of it or its political and histo- 
rical interest. His youth, his love-story, his death, — these are what 



342 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



affect us far more than his books ; what he did and was, infinitely 
beyond what he wrote. 

' Death, courage, honour, make thy soul to live ; 
Thy soul to live in heaven, thy name in tongues of men! ' 
His own time approached him somewhat differently. Browne's 
praise of him, which puts the ' deep quintessence ' of his wit in the 
forefront of his merits, before it turns to dwell upon his 'honour, 
virtue, valour, excellence,' represents the general Elizabethan 
feeling about him better than the fine lines from Constable just 
quoted. His literary influence, coming as he did in the early 
Elizabethan days, while his great rivals to be were still for the 
most part undiscovered, was no doubt heightened by his personal 
story, but was at bottom a distinct and independent force. So 
much is clear from that astonishing mass of elegiac prose and 
verse heaped upon his grave, in itself a phenomenon in English 
literary history; and as the Elizabethan time unfolds, the effect 
of Sidney's writing and of his special qualities of thought and 
style become more and more evident. Upon the generation which 
grew up after him, and during the first half of the seventeenth 
centur}', his influence remained undiminished. From Constable, 
Ben Jonson, BrowTie, Wither, Crashaw, Waller, out of a much 
wider circle, a string of passages could be quoted to prove the 
extraordinary spell of Sidney as a poet, above all as the poet 
of Stella, upon his successors. The mere name of Astrophel 
seems to have thrilled the literary circle around him, and that 
immediately following him, as no other name had power to thrill 
them. A reputation so romantic, and so dependent on the 
exceptional correspondence between Sidney's personality and 
powers and the young, quick-witted, passionate, Elizabethan spirit 
speaking through them, could scarcely hope to pass through 
Puritanism and the eighteenth century unchallenged. Milton's 
well-known protest against the use made by Charles I. on the 
scaffold of 'that vain amatorious poem of Sir Philip Sidney's 
Arcadia^ 'not to be read at any time without good caution,' 
is significant of decline in one direction, while in another we are 
brought up against some curious eighteenth-century judgments 
which show not only the complete distaste of a classical age for 
Sidney's literary performance, and the oblivion into which his best 
work had fallen, but even impatience of his romantic personal 
fame. 'When we come to enquire into the why and the wherefore 
of this astonishing effect upon his contemporaries,' writes Horace 



SID.VEY. 343 

Walpole, who had never read a Hne oi Astrophel and StelJa, and 
had to be reminded by a friend of the existence of The Apology for 
Poetry, ' what do we find ? Great valour ? But it was an age 
of heroes ! In full of all other talents, we have a tedious, 
lamentable, pedantic, pastoral romance which the patience of a 
young virgin in love cannot now wade through ; and some absurd 
attempts to fetter English verse in Roman chains.' 

There could scarcely be a better specimen of the jugenic7it 
saiigretiti. Happily the antiquarian revival of the present century 
has so far affected Sidney among others, that such pure ignorance 
of his place in literary history is no longer possible. But it may 
well be questioned whether Sidney has yet regained that currency 
among us as a poet which he deserves. Thanks to the labour which 
has been spent upon him since 1800, his prose is better known and 
more truly classed than it used to be ; but not even the best of his 
poems can be said to have recovered any real hold upon English 
feeling. The truth is, perhaps, that the general air of Sidney's verse, 
so to speak, does it injustice. Even the Astrophel and Stella 
sonnets have at first sight, as one turns over the pages, a barren, 
over-elaborate look, which is apt to lead to the classing of some of 
the most genuine and passionate of English poems with the unde- 
niably dry and artificial verse of the Arcadia. Then again, his main 
subject is forbidding, his range is limited, and his note, to modern 
thinking, monotonous. We are some time in discovering in Sidney 
that sensitiveness to the great human problems, to the wider ques- 
tions of life and thought in which the best English poetry is 
invariably steeped, and it is easy to put his work down as ranking 
with all the other second-rate love poetry of the time, neither much 
better nor worse than the verse of Constable or Thomas Watson. 
His own time, however, judged rightly in separating it widely from 
such performances. Sidney died at thirty-two, and his poetrj' is 
throughout the poetry of a young man, in love with art, with 
beauty, with ingenuity in all shapes, a courtier in the days when 
the court was a reality, a lover at a time when love was still bound 
to speak a conventional tongue and to express itself by certain 
outward conventional signs. The marring influence upon much 
of it of the theories of Gabriel Harvey's ' Areopagus ' marks the 
difterence in circumstance between himself and Spenser, his 
friend and temporary colleague in that whimsical scheme for 
bending English verse to classical shapes. In a few years Spenser 
was ridiculing the ' Areopagus,' and the * passing singular odd ' 



344 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

poems produced under its rules. Time sobered down the mo- 
mentary extravagance, and the familiar ways of English verse 
reclaimed their master. Spenser's hexameters are mere literary 
curiosities, buried in the shadow of The Fairy Queen. Sidney's 
' Roman feet ' are one of the most prominent features of his best- 
known work, and were regarded as characteristic of him in days 
when the poems to Stella were forgotten. The freaks of the 
'Areopagus' had no more real relation to his genius than they 
had to Spenser's ; but life left him no time to undo mistakes. 
Into what final mould his powers might have run is matter for 
speculation. The important point to notice is that death stepped in 
between him and that slow-coming maturity which belongs to all 
such rich and complex natures. His youth asserts itself in all he 
wrote. His best work is liable to youth's unripeness and inequality. 

But the greatness of his gift is not to be doubted. As a series 
of sonnets the Astrophel and Stella poems are second only to 
Shakespeare's ; as a series of love-poems they are perhaps unsur- 
passed. Other writers are sweeter, more sonorous ; no other love- 
poet of the time is so real. The poems to Stella are steeped 
throughout in a certain keen and pungent individuality which 
leaves a haunting impression behind it. They represent, not a 
mere isolated mood, whether half-real like Daniel's passion for 
Delia, or wholly artificial like the mood of Thomas Watson's 
Passions, but a whole passage in a genuine life. Here is no 
question of the pastoral landscape with its conventional pair of 
figures. Sidney's every-day life as a courtier and politician, 
mingling with the pageantries and touching the great interests 
of his time, his personal character with its serious and Puritan 
bias, his hopes and fears for his own prospects and career, — these 
are the facts of solid and human reality which deepen and vary 
the music of his passion for Stella, like rocks in the current of 
a stream. Not that Astrophel and Stella is without its make- 
believes. It has its ' conceits,' its pieces of pure word-play, in the 
common Elizabethan manner. No writer in the full tide of literary 
fashion like Sidney could afford to neglect these. But it would be 
scarcely fanciful to say that even in the most clearly marked of 
what one may call his conceited sonnets, the true Sidneian note 
to a reader who has learnt to catch it is almost always discernible, 
a note of youth and eagerness easily felt but liard to be described. 

As is well known, Aslroplicl and Stella contains the records of 
Sidney's love for Penelope Devereux, daughter of the first Earl 



SIDNEY. 345 

of Essex and sister to Elizabeth's favourite. They first met at 
Chartley in 1575, during the Kenilworth progress, when Sidney 
was twenty-one and Penelope a child of twelve, and in the years 
between 1576 and 1580 were commonly supposed to be destined 
for one another. Sidney however does not appear to have pro- 
secuted his suit with much ardour — there are several allusions to 
this early blindness of his in Astrophel and Stella — and in 1580 
his prospects had suddenly become so clouded by his own and 
Leicester's temporary disgrace, that it seems to have been thought 
prudent that Stella should look elsewhere. At any rate, when 
Sidney returned to court in the autumn of 1580, he found Penelope 
Devereux either married (there is a doubt about the date of the 
marriage) or pledged to Lord Rich. Disappointment and a sharp 
sense of injury, expressed with plain bitterness in one of his mis- 
cellaneous poems (see p. 362), shook his former liking into love, 
and during the following year, as far as dates can now be re- 
covered, after Stella's marriage at any rate, as well as possibly 
before it, the Astrophel and Stella sonnets were written. 

The chronology of these sonnets is now scarcely to be deter- 
mined. They were not published till after Sidney's death, when 
they were either printed from completed MSS., in which the order 
had been slightly disarranged by Sidney himself, for the purpose 
of masking to some extent their autobiographical character, or 
were put together by his friends in carelessness or ignorance of 
the dates of many among them. The main thread however is still 
discernible, and a close sifting of the allusions to contemporary 
history in them, as well as a comparison of them with the 
correspondence between Languet and Sidney of 1580-81, might 
enable a more clear-headed editor than has yet arisen to handle 
Sidney, to explain much that is now obscure. There are three 
distinct stages in the series : the first representing a period of 
impetuous passion, when Sidney is wooing in hot eagerness, bend- 
ing all the power of his genius to the glorification of Stella and the 
scorning of his supplanter Lord Rich, and yet dogged perpetually 
by returns upon himself, by outbursts of moral sensitiveness 
eminently characteristic ; the second a period of partial relenting 
on Stella's part and of joy on Sidney's : — 
' Gone is the winter of my misery ! 
My spring appears : O see what here cloth grow, 
For Stella hath, with words where faith doth shine, 
Of her high heart given me the monarchy.' 



346 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



And the third, a period of widening separation, when the lover, 
' forced by Stella's laws of duty to depart,' sinks deeper and deeper 
into depression and discouragement. Joy, hope, delight, even 
tears, have forgotten him : — 

' Only true sighs you do not go away : 
Thank may you have for such a thankful part ; 
— Thankworthiest yet when you shall break my heart !' 

Last of all, we may imagine, comes a sudden call to action, perhaps 
connected with the schemes of colonisation which we know to 
have been occupying his mind in 1582, and Sidney writes the 
107th sonnet, the last but one in the series as printed, probably 
the true conclusion of the whole according to Sidney's plan. 

'Sweet for a while give respite to my heart. 
Which pants as though it still should leap to thee, 
And on my thoughts give thy lieutenancy 
To this great cause, which needs both use and art. 
And as a queen who from her presence sends 
Whom she employs, dismiss from thee my wit, 
Till it have wrought what thy own will attends— 

O let not fools in me thy works reprove, 
And scorning say, ' See what it is to love ! ' 

Scattered up and down these three divisions as the sonnets stand 
now, are sonnets which have no special fitness to one or other 
division, and others again that are clearly misplaced. Still, in the 
main, the story of the poems runs on unbroken, a living continuous 
whole growing step by step more real and more tragic. With very 
few exceptions, the Astrophel and Stella sonnets cannot be fairly 
judged apart from their context. Each sonnet depends upon those 
before and after it, and it is in the cumulative effect of the whole 
that Sidney's genius is most clearly felt. Other contemporary series 
of sonnets will bear unstringing without injury. A stray sonnet 
taken at random from Delia or Lodge's Phillis or from Drummond's 
love-sonnets will often compare favourably with one taken at 
random from Astrophel and Stella. But the weak sonnets in 
Sidney are like the weak places in some of Wordsworth's finest 
work, descents to commonplace which taken alone would be 
intolerable, but which in their proper context rather heighten than 
detract from the realistic and passionate effect of the whole. In 
order to preserve this general effect as much as possible, the plan 
of the present selection has been to take from each period a certain 



SIDNEY. 347 

number of representative sonnets, which reproduce the original 
whole at least in outline, adding to these two specimens from the 
Astrophel and Stella songs, eleven in number, which were originally- 
printed after the sonnets, but were interspersed among them in the 
Arcadia of 1598. The two sonnets beginning 'Thou bhnd man's 
mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,' and ' Leave me, O Love which 
reachest but to dust,' which a recent editor has arbitrarily placed 
for the first time at the end oi Astrophel atid Stella, have been 
here carefully distinguished from that series. In some ways, in 
spite of their grand flow of verse and phrase, they are inferior to 
the majority of the Astrophel and Stella sonnets in workmanship, 
and also slightly different from them in plan. Sidney was probably 
not inclined to assign to them finally so conspicuous a place, and 
they were first published with other miscellaneous sonnets in the 
Arcadia of 1598. But that they were written towards the close of 
the Stella episode, perhaps about the time of the poet's marriage 
with Frances Walsingham, is certainly very likely, and their conson- 
ance with all that we know of that philosophical and high-minded 
Sidney in whom Elizabeth found an unwelcome counsellor, and 
Languet saw the hope of the Protestant cause in Europe, makes it 
justifiable to regard them as fit successors to any selection from 
Astrophel and Stella, and especially as closely connected with the 
107th sonnet. 

Of the rest of Sidney's poetry it is not necessary to say very 
much. The Stella poems brought him his contemporary fame, 
and upon them and the Apology for Poetry his claim to live in 
English letters must always rest. His other poems have the 
youthful faults which mar even Astrophel and Stella, only in far 
greater abundance. Mere 'thin diet of dainty words,' ingenuity 
unrelieved by a single touch of true feeling, the stock phrases and 
themes common to the hundred-and-one second-rate rhymers of 
the day, this is all that the voluminous verse of the Arcadia, with 
the exception of a few passages here and there, has to offer. 
The two songs quoted below from the ' Certain Sonnets — never 
before printed,' of 1595, belong to the great lyrical growth of the 
time, and are specimens of Sidney's freest and most spontaneous 
manner. One of them, the passionate dirge beginning ' Ring out 
ye bells, let mourning shews be spread,' has a swing and force 
which ought long ago to have rescued it from oblivion. 

Mary A. Ward. 



348 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



ASTROPHEL AND STELLA. 



Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show, 

That she, dear she, might take some pleasure of my pain, — 

Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her kno-.v, 

Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,— 

I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe ; 

Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain, 

Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow 

Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sun-burn'd brain. 

But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay ; 

Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame Study's blows ; 

And others' feet still seem'd but strangers in my way. 

Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes, 

Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite ; 

Fool, said my Muse to me, look in thy heart, and write. 



5- 

It is most true that eyes are form'd to serve 

The inward light, and that the heavenly part' 

Ought to be King, from whose rules who do swerve, 

Rebels to nature, strive for their own smart. 

It is most true, what we call Cupid's dart 

An image is, which for ourselves we carve, 

And, fools, adore in temple of our heart, 

Till that good god make church and churchmen starve 

True, that true beauty virtue is indeed. 

Whereof this beauty can be but a shade, 

Which, elements with mortal mixture breed : 

True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made, 

And should in soul up to our country move : 

True, and yet true— tliat I must Stella love. 



SIDiVEY. 349 



18. 



With what sharp checks I in myself am shent 

When into Reason's audit I do go, 

And by just 'counts myself a bankrupt know 

Of all those goods which heaven to me hath lent ; 

Unable quite to pay even Nature's rent, 

Which unto it by birthright I do owe ; 

And, which is worse, no good excuse can show, 

But that my wealth I have most idly spent ! 

My youth doth waste, my knowledge brings forth toys ; 

My wit doth strive those passions to defend, 

Which, for reward, spoil it with vain annoys. 

I see, my course to lose myself doth bend ; 

I see — and yet no greater sorrow take 

Than that I lose no more for Stella's sake. 



23. 



The curious wits, seeing dull pensiveness 
Bewray itself in my long-settled eyes. 
Whence those same fumes of melancholy rise, 
With idle pains and missing aim, do guess. 
Some, that know how my spring I did address. 
Deem that my Muse some fruit of knowledge plies ; 
Others, because the prince my service tries. 
Think that I think State errors to redress : 
But harder judges judge ambition's rage — 
Scourge of itself, still climbing slippery place — 
Holds my young brain captived in golden cage. 
O fools, or over-wise : alas, the race 
Of all my thoughts hath neither stop nor start 
But only Stella's eyes and Stella's heart. 



350 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



26. 



Though dusty wits dare scorn Astrology, 

And fools can think those lamps of purest light — 

Whose numbers, ways, greatness, eternity. 

Promising wonders, wonder do invite — 

To have for no cause birthright in the sky 

But for to spangle the black weeds of Night ; 

Or for some brawl, which in that chamber high, 

They should still dance to please a gazer's sight. 

For me, I do Nature unidle know. 

And know great causes great effects procure ; 

And know those bodies high reign on the low. 

And if these rules did fail, proof makes me sure, 

Who oft foresee my after-following race, 

By only those two stars in Stella's face. 



Z'^- 



Whether the Turkish new moon minded be 
To fill her horns this year on Christian coast? 
How Poland's king means without leave of host 
To warm with ill-made fire cold Muscovy.? 
If French can yet three parts in one agree 1 
What now the Dutch in their full diets boast? 
How Holland hearts, now so good towns be lost, 
Trust in the shade of pleasant Orange-tree .? 
How Ulster likes of that same golden bit 
Wherewith my father once made it half tame? 
If in the Scotch Court be no weltering yet? 
These questions busy wits to me do frame : 
I, cumbered with good manners, answer do, 
But know not how ; for still I think of you. 



SIDNEY. 351 



31. 



With how sad steps, O Moon, thou cHmb'st the skies ! 

How silently, and with how wan a face ! 

What, may it be that even in heavenly place 

That busy archer his sharp arrows tries 1 

Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes 

Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case, 

I read it in thy looks ; thy languisht grace. 

To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. 

Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me. 

Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit ? 

Are beauties there as proud as here they be? 

Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet 

Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess ? 

Do they call virtue there ungratefulness? 



32. 



Morpheus, the lively son of deadly Sleep, 

Witness of life to them that living die, 

A prophet oft, and oft an history, 

A poet eke, as humours fly or creep ; 

Since thou in me so sure a power dost keep, 

That never I with clos'd-up sense do lie, 

But by thy work my Stella I descry. 

Teaching blind eyes both how to smile and weep ; 

Vouchsafe, of all acquaintance, this to tell, 

Whence hast thou ivory, rubies, pearl, and gold. 

To show her skin, lips, teeth, and head so well ? 

Fool ! answers he ; no Indes such treasures hold ; 

But from thy heart, while my sire charmeth thee, 

Sweet Stella's image I do steal to me. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



33- 



I might ! — unhappy word — O me, I might, 

And then would not, or could not, see my bliss ; 

Till now wrapt in a most infernal night, 

I find how heavenly day, wretch ! I did miss. 

Heart, rend thyself, thou dost thyself but right ; 

No lovely Paris made thy Helen his : 

No force, no fraud robb'd thee of thy delight, 

Nor Fortune of thy fortune author is ; 

But to myself myself did give the blow. 

While too much wit, forsooth, so troubled me. 

That I respects for both our sakes must show : 

And yet could not, by rising morn foresee 

How fair a day was near : O punisht eyes, 

That I had been more fooHsh, or more wise ! 



yi- 



This night, while sleep begins with heavy wings 

To hatch mine eyes, and that unbilted thought 

Doth fall to stray, and my chief powers are brought 

To leave the sceptre of all subject things ; 

The first that straight my fancy's error brings 

Unto my mind is Stella's image, wrought 

By Love's own self, but with so curious drought 

That she, methinks, not only shines but sings. 

I start, look, hark ; but what in closed-up sense 

Was held, in opened sense it flics away, 

Leaving me nought but wailing eloquence. 

I, seeing better sights in sight's decay, 

Call'd it anew, and wooc;d Sleep again ; 

But him, licr host, that unkind guest had slain. 



SIDNEY. 353 



59- 



Come, Sleep ! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace, 
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe, 
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release, 
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low ; 
With shield of proof shield me from out the press 
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw : 

make in me those civil wars to cease ; 

1 will good tribute pay, if thou do so. 

Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed, 
A chamber deaf to noise and- blind to light, 
A rosy garland and a weary head : 
And if these things, as being thine in right, 
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me, 
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see. 



48. 



Soul's joy, bend not those morning stars from me, 
Where Virtue is made strong by Beauty's might ; 
Where Love is chastness. Pain doth learn delight, 
And Humbleness grows one with Majesty. 
Whatever may ensue, O let me be 
Co-partner of the riches of that sight ;" 
Let not mine eyes be hell-driven from that light ; 
O look, O shine, O let me die, and see. 
For though I oft myself of them bemoan 
That through my heart their beamy darts be gone. 
Whose cureless wounds even now most freshly bleed, 
Yet since my death-wound is already got, 
Dear killer, spare not thy sweet-cruel shot ; 
A kind of grace it is to slay with speed. 
VOL. I. A a 



354 Tt^E ENGLISH POETS. 



6i. 



Oft with true sighs, oft with uncalled tears, 

Now with- slow words, now with dumb eloquence, 

I Stella's eyes assayed, invade her ears ; 

But this, at last, is her sweet-breath'd defence : 

That who indeed in-felt affection bears, 

So captives to his saint both soul and sense, 

That, wholly hers, all selfness he forbears, 

Then his desires he learns, his life's course thence. 

Now, since her chaste mind hates this love in me. 

With chastened mind I straight must show that she 

Shall quickly me from what she hates remove. 

O Doctor Cupid, thou for me reply ; 

Driven else to grant, by angel's sophistry, 

That I love not without I leave to love. 



64. 



No njore, my dear, no more these counsels try ; 

give my passions leave to run their race ; 
Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace ; 
Let folk o'ercharged with brain against me cry ; 
Let clouds bedim my face, break in mine eye ; 
Let me no steps but of lost labour trace ; 

Let all the earth with scorn recount my case, — 
But do not will me from my love to fly. 

1 do not envy Aristotle's wit. 

Nor do aspire to Caesar's bleeding fame ; 
Nor aught do care though some above me sit ; 
Nor hope nor wish another course to frame, 
But that which once may win thy cruel heart : 
Thou art my wit, and thou my virtue art. 



STDNE Y. 



66. 



And do I see some cause a hope to feed, 

Or doth the tedious burden of long woe 

In weakened minds quick apprehending breed 

Of every image which may comfort show ? 

I cannot brag of word, much less of deed, 

Fortune wheels still with me in one sort slow ; 

My wealth no more, and no whit less my need ; 

Desire still on stilts of Fear doth go. 

And yet amid all fears a hope there is. 

Stolen to my heart since last fair night, nay day, 

Stella's eyes sent to me the beams of bliss. 

Looking on me while I look'd other way : 

But when mine eyes back to their heaven did move, 

They fled with blush which guilty seemed of love. 



O joy too high for my low style to show ! 
O bliss fit for a nobler state than me ! 
Envy, put out thine eyes, lest thou do see 
What oceans of delight in me do flow ! 
My friend, that oft saw through all masks my woe. 
Come, come, and let me pour myself on thee. 
Gone is the Winter of my misery ! 
My Spring appears ; O see what here doth grow : 
For Stella hath, with words where faith doth shine, 
Of her high heart given me the monarchy : 
I, I, O I, may say that she is mine ! 
And though she give but thus conditionly. 
This realm of bliss while virtuous course I take, 
No kings be crown'd but they some covenants make. 
A a 2 



356 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



74. 



I never drank of Aganippe well, 

Nor ever did in shade of Tempe sit, 

And Muses scorn with vulgar brains to dwell ; 

Poor layman I, for sacred rites unfit. 

Some do I hear of poets' fury tell, 

But, God wot, wot not what they mean by it ; 

And this I swear by blackest brook of hell, 

I am no pick -purse of another's wit. 

How falls it then, that with so smooth an ease 

My thoughts I speak ; and what I speak doth flow 

In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please ? 

Guess we the cause ! What, is it thus 1 Fie, no. 

Or so? Much less. How then? Sure thus it is, 

My lips are sweet, inspired with Stella's kiss. 



84. 



High way, since you my chief Parnassus be. 

And that my Muse, to some ears not unsweet, 

Tempers her words to trampling horses' feet 

More oft than to a chamber-melody. 

Now, blessed you bear onward blessed me 

To her, where I my heart, safe-left, shall meet ; 

My Muse and I must you of duty greet 

With thanks and wishes, wishing thankfully. 

Be you still fair, honoured by public heed ; 

By no encroachment wrong'd, nor time forgot ; 

Nor blam'd for blood, nor sham'd for sinful deed ; 

And that you know I envy you no lot 

Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss, — 

Hundreds of years you Stella's feet may kiss. 



SIDNEY. 357 



87. 



When I was forced from Stella ever dear — 
Stella, food of my thoughts, heart of my heart — 
Stella, whose eyes make all my tempests clear — 
By Stella's laws of duty to depart ; 
Alas, I found that she with me did smart ; 
I saw that tears did in her eyes appear ; 
I saw that sighs her sweetest lips did part. 
And her sad words my sadded sense did hear. 
For me, I wept to see pearls scattered so ; 
I sighed her sighs, and wailed for her woe ; 
Yet swam in joy, such love in her was seen. 
Thus, while th' effect most bitter was to me. 
And nothing then the cause more sweet could be, 
I had been vexed, if vexed I had not been. 



90. 



Stella, think not that I by verse seek fame, 

Who seek, who hope, who love, who live but thee ; 

Thine eyes my pride, thy hps mine history : 

If thou praise not, all other praise is shame. 

Nor so ambitious am I, as to frame 

A nest for my young praise in laurel tree : 

In truth, I swear I wish not there should be 

Graved in my epitaph a Poet's name. 

Nor, if I would, could I just title make. 

That any laud thereof to me should grow, 

Without my plumes from others' wings I take : 

For nothing from my wit or will doth flow, 

Since all my words thy beauty doth endite, 

And Love doth hold my hand, and makes me write. 



358 THE ENGLISH FOETS. 



92. 



Be your words made, good Sir, of Indian ware, 
That you allow me them by so small rate ? 
Or do you curted Spartans imitate ? 
Or do you mean my tender ears to spare, 
That to my questions you so total are ? 
When I demand of Phoenix-Stella's state. 
You say, forsooth, you left her well of late : 

God, think you that satisfies my care ? 

1 would know whether she did sit or walk ; 

How clothed ; how waited on ; sighed she, or smiled ; 
Whereof, — with whom, — how often did she talk ; 
With what pastimes Time's journey she beguiled ; 
If her lips deigned to sweeten my poor name : 
Say all ; and all well said, still say the same. 



92. 



fate, O fault, O curse, child of my bliss ! 

What sobs can give words grace my grief to show? 
What ink is black enough to paint my woe ? 
Through me — wretch me — even Stella vexfed is. 
Yet, truth— if caitif's breath may call thee — this 
Witness with me, that my foul stumbling so, 
From carelessness did in no manner grow ; 
But wit, confused with too much care, did miss. 
And do I, then, myself this vain 'scuse give 1 

1 have — live I, and know this — harmed thee : 
Though worlds 'quit me, shall I myself forgive ? 
Only with pains my pains thus easM be, 
That all thy hurts in my heart's wrack I read ; 
I cry thy sighs, my dear, thy tears I bleed. 



SIDNEY. 359 



107. 



Stella, since thou so right a princess art 
Of all the powers which life bestows on me, 
That ere by them ought undertaken be, 
They first resort unto that sovereign part ; 
Sweet, for a while give respite to my heart, 
Which pants as though it still should leap to thee : 
And on my thoughts give thy lieutenancy 
To this great cause, which needs both use and art. 
And as a queen, who from her presence sends 
Whom she employs, dismiss from thee my wit, 
Till it have wrought what thy own will attends, 
On servants' shame oft masters' blame doth sit : 
O let not fools in me thy works reprove. 
And scorning say, ' See what it is to love ! ' 



Songs from Astrophel and Stella, 

Seventh Song. Stella singing. 

Whose senses in so ill consort their step-dame Nature lays, 
That ravishing delight in them most sweet tunes do not raise ; 
Or if they do dehght therein, yet are so closed with wit. 
As with sententious lips to set a title vain on it ; 
O let them hear these sacred tunes, and learn in Wonder's 

schools, 
To be, in things past bounds of wit, fools — if they be not fools ! 

Who have so leaden eyes, as not to see sweet Beauty's show, 
Or, seeing, have so wooden wits, as not that worth to know. 
Or, knowing, have so muddy minds, as not to be in love. 
Or, loving, have so frothy thoughts, as eas'ly thence to move ; 
O let them see these heavenly beams, and in fair letters read 
A lesson fit, both sight and skill, love and firm love to breed. 



360 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Hear then, but then with wonder hear, see, but adoring, see, 
No mortal gifts, no earthly fruits, now here descended be : 
See, do you see this face ? a face, nay, image of the skies. 
Of w'hich, the two life-giving lights are figured in her eyes : 
Hear you this soul-invading voice, and count it but a voice ? 
The very essence of their tunes, when angels do rejoice ! 



Tenth Song. Absence. 

O dear life, when shall it be 
That mine eyes thine eyes shall see, 
And in them thy mind discover 
Whether absence have had force 
Thy remembrance to divorce 
From the image of thy lover ? 

Or if I myself find not. 

After parting, aught forgot. 

Nor debarred from Beauty's treasure, 

Let not tongue aspire to tell 

In what high joys I shall dwell ; 

Only thought aims at the pleasure. 

Thought, therefore, I will send thee 
To take up the place for me : 
Long I will not after tarry. 
There, unseen, thou mayst be bold, 
Those fair wonders to behold, 
Which in them my hopes do carry. 

Thought, see thou no place forbear, 
Enter bravely everywhere. 
Seize on all to her belonging ; 
But if thou wouldst guarded be, 
Fearing her beams, take with thee 
Strength of liking, rage of longing. 

Tliink of that most grateful time 
When my icajjing heart will climb, 



SIDNEY. 361 

In my lips to have his biding, 
There those roses for to kiss, 
Which do breathe a sugared bliss, 
Opening rubies, pearls dividing. 

***** 

Think, think of those dallyings, 
When with dove-like murmurings, 
With glad moaning, passed anguish. 
We change eyes, and heart for heart, 
Each to other do depart. 
Joying till joy makes us languish. 

O my thought, my thoughts surcease. 

Thy delights my woes increase, 

My life melts with too much thinking ; 

Think no more, but die in me. 

Till thou shalt revived be, 

At her lips my nectar drinking. 



[From the collection of Miscellaneous Poems first published in the Arcadia 
of 1595, under the heading of Cerlain Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney never 
be/ore printed^ 

Philomela. 

The nightingale, as soon as April bringeth 

Unto her rested sense a perfect waking. 
While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth, 

Sings out her woes, a thorne her song-book making, 

And mournfully bewailing, 
Her throat in tunes expresseth 
What grief her breast oppresseth 

For Tercus' force on her chaste will prevailing. 
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness. 
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness : 
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth ; 
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth. 



362 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



A Dirge. 

Ring out your bells, let mourning shews be spread ; 
For Love is dead : 

All Love is dead, infected 
With plague of deep disdain : 

Worth, as nought worth, rejected, 
And Faith fair scorn doth gain. 

From so ungrateful fancy, 

From such a female frenzy, 

From them that use men thus, 

Good Lord, deliver us ! 

Weep, neighbours, weep ; do you not hear it said 
That Love is dead ? 

His death-bed, peacock's folly ; 
His winding-sheet is shame ; 

His will, false-seeming wholly ; 
His sole executor, blame. 

From so ungrateful fancy, 

From such a female frenzy, 

From them that use men thus, 

Good Lord, deliver us ! 

Let dirge be sung, and trentals rightly read, 
For Love is dead ; 

Sir Wrong his tomb ordaineth 
My mistress' marble heart ; 

Which epitaph containeth, 
* Her eyes were once his dart.* 

From so ungrateful fancy, 

From such a female frenzy, 

From them that use men thus. 

Good Lord, deliver us ! 

Alas, I lie : rage halh this error bred ; 
Love is not dead ; 



SIDNEY. 363 



Love is not dead, but sleepeth 

In her unmatched mind, 

Where she his counsel keepeth, 

Till due deserts she find. 

Therefore from so vile fancy, 
To call such wit a frenzy, 
Who Love can temper thus, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! 



Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare, 
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought : 
Band of all evils ; cradle of causeless care ; 
Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought : 
Desire ! Desire ! I have too dearly bought. 
With price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware ; 
Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought, 
Who should my mind to higher things prepare. 
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought ; 
In vain thou mad'st me to vain things aspire ; 
In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire ; 
For Virtue hath this better lesson taught, — 
Within myself to seek my only hire, 
Desiring nought but how to kill Desire. 



2. 

Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust ; 
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things ; 
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust ; 
Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings. 
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might 
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be ; 
Which breaks the clouds, and opens forth the light, 
That doth both shine, and give us sight to see. 



364 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

O take fast hold ; let that light be thy guide 

In this small course which birth draws out to death, 

And think how ill becometh him to slide, 

Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath. 

Then farewell, world ; thy uttermost I see : 

Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me ! 



From the 'Arcadia.' 
Dorus to Pamela. 

My sheep are thoughts, which I both guide and serve ; 

Their pasture is fair hills of fruitless love. 

On barren sweets they feed, and feeding starve. 

I wail their lot, but will not other prove ; 

My sheephook is wan hope, which all upholds ; 

My weeds Desire, cut out in endless folds ; 
What wool my sheep shall bear, whilst thus they live, 
In you it is, you must the judgment give. 

Night. 

O Night, the ease of care, the pledge of pleasure, 
Desire's best mean, harvest of hearts affected. 
The seat of peace, the throne Avhich is erected 
Of human life to be the quiet measure ; 
Be victor still of Phoebus' golden treasure, 
Who hath our sight with too much sight infected ; 
Whose light is cause we have our lives neglected, 
Turning all Nature's course to self displeasure. 
These stately stars in their now shining faces, 
With sinless sleep, and silence wisdom's mother, 
Witness his wrong which by thy help is eased : 
Thou art, therefore, of these our desert places 
The sure refuge ; by thee and by no other 
My soul is blest, sense joy'd, and fortune raisL;d. 



FULKE GREVILLE, 

LORD BROOKE. 



[FuLKE Greville, Lord Brooke, born 1554, was the school-fellow and friend 
of Sidney. He held two important offices under Elizabeths government, 
that of Secretary to the Principality of Wales (1583), and that of Treasurer 
of Marine Causes (1597). He seems to have spent the early years of James' 
reign in retirement, returning to Court about 1614, in which year he was 
made Chancellor of the Exchequer and Priv}' Councillor. In 1620 he was 
created Baron Brooke of Beauchamp's Court, and died in 1628 from the 
effects of a wound given him by a servant. The only works published 
in his lifetime were an elegiac poem on Sidney in Phoenix Nest (1593), a 
poem in ^odenham's Belvedere (1600), three poems in England's Helicon, and 
the Tragedy oi Mmtapha in 1609. An edition of his works, excluding the 
Poems of Monarchy and Religion (published 1670) appeared in 1633. In 
1870 his complete works, prose and verse, were edited in the Fuller 
Worthies Library by the Rev. A. B. Grosart.] 

The poems of Lord Brooke, written for the most part 'in his 
youth and familar exercise with Sir Philip Sidney,' according to the 
title page of the 1633 editions, have a real and permanent value, 
though they can never hope to appeal to any other than a limited 
and so to speak professional audience. They are the work of a 
man of great thinking power, and of singular nobility and upright- 
ness of character. The sheer power of mind shewn in these strange 
plays and treatises and so-called sonnets is undeniable. Every now 
and then it leads their author to a genuine success, to a fine chorus, 
a speech of weird and concentrated passion as impressive as a 
speech of Ford's, though even less human, a shorter poem of real 
and fanciful beauty. But generally we find this inborn power strug- 
gling with a medium of expression so cumbrous and intricate and 
stumbling, that neither thought nor fancy can find their way through 
it. Words are taxed beyond what they can bear ; all thoughts, 
whether great or trivial, are tortured into the same over-laboured 
dress ; there is no ease, no flow, no joy. More than this ; not only 
is the manner far removed from the true manner of poetry, but in 



366 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



large tracts of it the matter handled has nothing to do with poetry, 
'The DecHnation of Monarchy,' 'Of Weak-minded Tyrants,' 'Of 
Laws,' 'Of Nobility,' 'Of Commerce,' 'Of Crown Revenue,' — these 
are not the subjects of the poet. In the seventeenth century they 
were the subjects of the pamphleteer, and no one could have treated 
them in prose with greater ability and a more Miltonic swing and 
pregnancy of phrase than Lord Brooke. Buried in pages of weari- 
some verse, his discussions of these and such-like topics, in spite of 
acuteness, in spite of a wide and modern political view, are intoler- 
able as poetry and unreadable as political and philosophical argu- 
ment. His theory — as it was the theory of so many of his later 
contemporaries, of Sir John Davies, of Christopher Brooke, and Sir 
William Alexander — seems to have been that all subjects of serious 
human interest were equally within the sphere of poetry, or could 
be turned into poetry by a sort of coup de main. On the other 
hand, he not only attempted to treat scientific matter poetically, but 
also to treat genuinely poetical matter, such as natural beauty or 
human passion, or religious emotion, scientifically, making analysis 
and comparison play the part of feeling, and preserving the same , 
stififness and pedantry of movement in the most passionate or 
graceful situations. Yet at bottom Lord Brooke had many of the 
poet's gifts. His worst things contain a scant measure of fine lines 
and passages, such as perhaps few other Elizabethan writers below 
the first circle could have written, expressed with admirable re- 
sonance and terseness. At his best he rises very high, as we hope 
to show in the following extracts. But of the exquisite Elizabethan 
fluency and archness, the transparent sweetness of Spenser, the 
spontaneity and brilliancy of Sidney, Lord Brooke had little or 
nothing. His poetry bears witness in an extraordinary degree to 
the mental energy and acuteness of the time ; it is wholly lacking 
in the Elizabethan charm. Sir William Davenant is reported to 
have said of him, that he had written good poetry in his youth and 
had then spoilt it by keeping it by him till old age. Lord Brooke's 
own explanation of the peculiar quality of his work however goes 
deeper than this. In the so-called Life of Sidney, after making a 
half apology for the romance and fancifulness of Sidney's Arcadia., 
and justifying the book as after all not lacking in 'images and 
examples (as directing threads) to guide every man through the 
confused Labyrinth of his own desires and life,' he continues : 
' For my own part 1 found my creeping genius more fixed upon 
the images of life than the images of wit, and therefore chose not 



LORD BROOKE. 367 



to write to them on whose foot the black ox had not already trod, 
as the proverb is, but to those only that are weatherbeaten in the 
sea of this world, such as having lost the sight of their gardens 
and groves, study to sail on a right course among rocks and 
quicksands.' Thus beside the young unpruned imagination of his 
friend, quenched before time had stolen from it a particle of its 
joyousness and luxuriance, he places his own elder and way-worn 
muse — the poetry of ' Life' beside the poetry of 'Wit.' Such a 
distinction breathes the spirit of a new world ; and in parting 
Lord Brooke from the writer of Astrophel and Stella places him 
mentally beside Milton and Bacon. 

The folio edition of his works, of 1633, the materials for which had 
been revised and collected for publication by the author, contains 
three treatises, on ' Human Learning,' on 'Wars,' and 'An Inquisi- 
tion upon Fame and Honour,' the tragedies of Alahani and 
Mustapha, and the hundred and ten sonnets of Caelica. The 
Poems of Motiarchy and Religion were published later in 1670. 
Mustapha had also appeared earlier in 1609. To these Mr. Grosart, 
in a recent complete edition has added a few miscellaneous poems, 
the lament for Sidney, published in TJie Phoenix' Nest of 1593, 
two or three poems from England^s Helicoft, and a doubtful one 
from The Paradise of Dainty Devices. Of these we are not now 
concerned with the treatises. They were originally meant to 
serve as choruses between the acts of Alaliani and Mustapha — 
a whimsical instance of the impracticability of Lord Brooke's 
genius — and, as we have already said, they are not without lines 
and passages of poetry. But in the main they are either matter 
for the biographer, or for the student of seventeenth-century spe- 
culation. The collection of shorter poems under the name of 
Caelica contains a number of love-poems, some perhaps genuine, 
others mocking and cynical, which, as in Habington's Castara, 
lead up to a concluding group of religious and philosophical pieces. 
With sonnets, properly so called, they have nothing more in com- 
mon than the name. Some of them are undoubtedly echoes of 
Astrophel and Stella, harsh fantastic echoes which but rarely 
recall the music of the earlier strain. Sonnet 46, 'Patience, weak- 
fortun'd and weak-minded wit,' is an ' exercise ' on the same theme 
as Sonnet 56 of Astrophel atid Stella. The end of Sonnet 45 is a 
reminiscence of the tenth song in the same collection, and two 
better illustrations of poetical failure on the one hand, and such 
poetical success as the kind of theme admits of on the other, 



368 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

could scarcely be brought together than the thirteenth sonnet of 
Caelica, ' Cupid his boy's play many times forbidden,' as com- 
pared with the well-known ' His mother dear Cupid offended late' 
of Astrophel and Stella. This list might be largely extended 
with ever-increasing profit to Sidney's reputation. Still, when all 
deductions are made, Caelica brings its own peculiar reward to the 
reader. There are veins of poetry in it of a remote and fanciful 
kind, and what is not poetry will often affect us with the old-world 
charm, which is the true explanation of Cultismo wherever it 
appears in literary history, the charm of ingenuity as such, of 
mind-play pure and simple. To which may be added that among 
the religious poems of Caelica there is perhaps simpler and 
sincerer work than Lord Brooke produced anywhere else. 

With regard to the poem-plays of Alahatn and Mustapha, 
which may be compared with the much inferior ' Monarchical 
tragedies ' of Sir William Alexander, nothing can be added to the 
well-known criticism of Charles Lamb, which describes them as 
' political treatises, not plays,' in which ' all is made frozen and 
rigid with intellect,' or to Lord Brooke's own account of them as 
intended to illustrate the * high ways of ambitious governours,' and 
the public and private ruin to which such v^-ays tend. In spite of 
tragical situations, in spite of the injured youth of Mustapha, and 
the maiden heroism of Caelica, they are not tragical, and for all 
their high intellectual interest, they are very seldom poetical. In 
those rare instances however, where the poet succeeds in mastering 
and transforming the philosopher, there we have a very noble and 
perfect effect, such an effect as is reached in The Chorus of Tartars 
quoted below, where the plea of the world against the claims and 
promises of religion is put with a passion and directness which 
lifts it far above its surroundings. 

The outer facts of Lord Brooke's prolonged literary career 
bring the world of Spenser and the world of Milton together in 
a striking way. He, with Spenser, Dyer, and Sidney, was a mem- 
ber of Harvey's 'Areopagus,' and there is other evidence of 
intercourse between him and Spenser. His friendship with Sidney 
is one of the classical stories in the history of English letters. On 
the other hand Davenant, the founder of the Restoration theatre, 
was the protegd of his old age, and he died the year before the 
composition of the Ode on the Morning of ChrisVs Nativity. 

Mary A. Ward. 



LORD BROOKE. 369 



Chorus of Tartars. 

[From the Tragedy oi Mustapha.'\ 

Vast Superstition ! Glorious style of weakness ! 
Sprung from the deep disquiet of man's passion, 
To dissolution and despair of Nature : 
Thy texts bring princes' titles into question : 
Thy prophets set on work the sword of tyrants : 
They manacle sweet Truth with their distinctions : 
Let Virtue blood : teach Cruelty for God's sake ; 
Fashioning one God ; yet Him of many fashions, 
Like many-headed Error, in their passions. 
Mankind ! Trust not these superstitious dreams, 
Fear's idols, Pleasure's relics, Sorrow's pleasures : 
They make the wilful hearts their holy temples. 
The rebels unto government their martyrs. 
No : Thou child of false miracles begotten ! 
False miracles, which are but ignorance of cause, 
Lift up the hopes of thy abjected prophets : 
Courage and Worth abjure thy painted heavens. 
Sickness, thy blessings are ; Misery thy trial ; 
Nothing, thy way unto eternal being ; 
Death, to salvation ; and the grave to heaven. 
So blest be they, so angel'd, so etemiz'd 
That tie their senses to thy senseless glories, 
And die, to cloy the after-age with stories. 
Man should make much of Life, as Nature's table. 
Wherein she writes the cypher of her glory. 
Forsake not Nature, nor misunderstand her : 
Her mysteries are read without Faith's eye-sight : 
She speaketh in our flesh ; and from our senses 
Delivers down her wisdoms to our reason. 
If any man would break her laws to kill, 
Nature doth for defence allow offences. 
VOL. I. B b 



370 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

She neither taught the father to destroy : 
Nor promis'd any man, by dying, joy.^ 



Chorus of Priests. 

[From Muslapha.] 

Oh wearisome condition of Humanity ! 
Born under one law, to another bound, 
Vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity, 
Created sick, commanded to be sound : 
What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws? 
Passion and reason self-division cause. 
Is it the mask or majesty of Power 
To make offences that it may forgive ? 
Nature herself doth her own self deflower 
To hate those errors she herself doth give. 
For how should man think that he may not do 
If Nature did not fail and punish too ? 
Tyrant to others, to herself unjust, 
Only commands things difficult and hard ; 
Forbids us all things which it knows we lust ; 
Makes easy pains, impossible reward. 
If Nature did not take delight in blood, 
She would have made more easy ways to good. 
We that are bound by vows and by promotion, 
With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites, 
To preach belief in God and stir devotion, 
To preach of Heaven's wonders and delights, 
Yet when each of us in his own heart looks 
He finds the God there far unlike his books. 

' These last four lines are in allusion to the plot oi Muslapha, which turns 
upon the murder of the unresisting and innocent Muslapha by his father 
Solyman, in consequence of certain unjust suspicions. 



LORD BROOKE. 371 



Chorus of Good and Evil Spirits. 

[From Alaham7[ 

Evil Spirits. 

Why did you not defend that which was once your own ? 

Between us two, the odds of worth, by odds of power is known. 

Besides map clearly out your infinite extent, 

Even in the infancy of Time, when man was innocent ' ; 

Could this world then yield aught to envy or desire. 

Where pride of courage made men fall, and baseness rais'd them 

higher ? 
Where they that would be great, to be so must be least, 
And where to bear and suffer wrong, was Virtue's native crest. 
Man's skin was then his silk ; the world's wild fruit his food ; 
His wisdom, poor simpHcity ; his trophies inward good. 
No majesty for power ; nor glories for man's worth ; 
Nor any end, but — as the plants — to bring each other forth. 
Temples and vessels fit for outward sacrifice. 
As they came in, so they go out with that which you call vice. 
The priesthood few and poor ; no throne but open air ; 
For that which you call good, allows of nothing that is fair. 
No PjTamids rais'd up above the force of thunder, 
No Babel-walls by greatness built, for littleness a wonder, 
No conquest testifying wit, with [dauntless] courage mixt ; 
As wheels whereon the world must run, and never can be fixt. 
No arts or characters to read the great God in. 
Nor stories of acts done ; for these all entered with the sin. 
A lazy calm, wherein each fool a pilot is ! 
The glory of the skilful shines, where men may go amiss. 
Till we came in there was no trial of your might, 
And since we were in men, yourselves presume of little right. 
Then cease to blast the Earth with your abstracted dreams, 
And strive no more to carry men against Affection's streams, 
•ifr * * * * * * 

Keep therefore where you are ; descend not but ascend : 

For, underneath the sun, be sure no brave state is your friend. 

* i. e. ' consider the boundless power you enjoyed in the golden age.' 
B b 2 



372 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Good Spirits. 

What have you won by this, but that curst under Sin, 

You make and mar ; throw down and raise ; as ever to begin ; 

Like meteors in the air, you blaze but to burn out ; 

And change your shapes — Hke phantom'd clouds — to leave weak 

eyes in doubt. 
Not Truth but truth-like grounds you work upon. 
Varying in all but this, that you can never long be one : 
Then play here with your art, false miracle devise ; 
Deceive, and be deceived still, be foolish and seem wise ; 
In Peace erect your thrones, your delicacy spread ; 
The flowers of time corrupt, soon spring, and are as quickly 

dead. 
Let War, which — tempest-like — all with itself o'erthrows. 
Make of this diverse world a stage of blood-enamelled shows. 
Successively both these yet this fate follow will. 
That all their glories be no more than change from ill to ill. 



Seed-time and Harvest. 

[From Caelica, Sonnet XL.] 

The nurse-life wheat within his green husk growing 
Flatters our hopes and tickles our desire ; 
Nature's true riches in sweet beauties shewing, 
Which set all hearts with labour's love on fire. 
No less fair is the wheat when golden ear, 
Shews unto hope the joys of near enjoying : 
Fair and sweet is the bud ; more sweet and fair 
The rose, which proves that Time is not destroying. 
Caelica, your youth, the morning of delight, 
Enamcl'd o'er with beauties white and red, 
All sense and thoughts did to belief invite, 
That love and glory there are brought to bed ; 

And your ripe years. Love, now they grow no higher, 
Turn all the spirits of man into desire '. 

* The reading of these last two lines is conjectural. 



LORD BROOKE. 373 



Elizabetha Regina. 

[From Caelica, Sonnet LXXXII.] 

Under a throne I saw a virgin sit, 
The red and white rose quartered in her face, 
Star of the North ! — and for true guards to it, 
Princes, church, states, all pointing out her grace. 
The homage done her was not born of Wit ; 
Wisdom admir'd, Zeal took Ambition's place, 
State in her eyes taught Order how to fit 
And fix Confusion's unobserving race. 

Fortune can here claim nothing truly great, 
But that this princely creature is her seat. 



SOXNET. 
[From Caelica, Sonnet CX.] 

Sion lies waste, and Thy Jerusalem, 

O Lord, is fall'n to utter desolation ; 

Against Thy prophets and Thy holy men. 

There sin hath wrought a fatal combination : 
Profan'd Thy name, Thy worship overthrown. 
And made Thee, living Lord, a God unknown. 

Thy powerful laws. Thy wonders of creation. 

Thy word incarnate, glorious heaven, dark hell, 

Lie shadowed under man's degeneration ; 

Thy Christ still crucified for doing well ; 
Impiety, O Lord, sits on Thy throne, 
WHiich makes Thee living Lord, a God unknown. 

Man's superstition hath Thy truth entombed. 

His atheism again her pomps defaceth ; 

That sensual, insatiable vast womb. 

Of thy seen Church, Thy unseen Church disgraceth ; 
There lives no truth, with them that seem Thine own. 
Which makes Thee, living Lord, a God unknown. 



374 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Yet unto Thee, Lord — mirror of transgression — 
We who for earthly idols have forsaken, 
Thy heavenly image; — sinless, pure impression — 
And so in nets of vanity lie taken. 

All desolate implore that to Thine own. 
Lord, Thou no longer live a God unknown. 

Yea, Lord, let Israel's plagues not be eternal, 
Nor sin for ever cloud Thy sacred mountains, 
Nor with false flames spiritual but infernal, 
Diy up Thy Mercy's ever springing fountains : 
Rather, sweet Jesus, fill up time and come, 
To yield to sin her everlasting doom. 



An Elegy on Sir Philip Sidney ^ 

Silence augmenteth grief, writing increaseth rage, 

Staled are my thoughts, which loved and lost the wonder of 

our age ; 
Yet quickened now with fire, though dead with frost ere now. 
Enraged I write, I know not what ; dead — quick — I know not how. 

Hard-hearted minds relent and Rigour's tears abound. 
And Envy strangely rues his end, in whom no fault she found. 
Knowledge her light hath lost, Valour hath slain her knight, 
Sidney is dead, dead is my friend, dead is the world's delight. 

Place pensive wails his fall, whose presence was her pride, 
Time crieth out, my ebb is come ; his life was my spring-tide ! 
Fame mourns in that she lost the ground of her reports, 
P^.ach living wight laments his lack, and all in sundry sorts. 

He was (woe worth that word !) to each well-thinking mind 
A spotless friend, a matchless man, whose virtue ever shincd, 
Declaring in his thoughts, his life and that he writ. 
Highest conceits, longest foresights, and deepest works of wil. 



' The authorship of this ])ocni is by no means certain. Latnb however 
believed it to be by Lord Brooke. 



LORD BROOKE. 37: 



Farewell to you my hopes, my wonted waking dreams, 
Farewell sometimes enjoyed joy, eclipsed are thy beams, 
Farewell self-pleasing thoughts, which quietness brings forth, 
And farewell friendship's sacred league, uniting minds of worth. 

And farewell merry heart, the gift of guiltless minds, 
And all sports, which for life's restore, variety assigns : 
Let all that sweet is void ; in me no mirth may dwell : 
Philip the cause of all this woe, my life's content, farewell ! 

Now rhyme, the son of rage, which art no kin to skill, 

And endless grief, which deads my life yet knows not how to kill. 

Go, seek that hapless tomb, which if ye hap to find, 

Salute the stones that keep the hmbs, that held so good a mind. 



SIR EDWARD DYER. 

[Born about 1550 at Sharpham near Glastonbury; educated at Balliol 
College, Oxford ; ambassador to Denmark 1589 ; knighted 1596 ; died 1607.] 

Sir Edward Dyer, 'for Elegy most sweete, solempne and of high 
conceit,' according to a contemporary judgment, makes the last in 
importance, though the first in date, of that trio of poet-friends 
celebrated in Sidney's well-known Pastoral : 

' Join hearts and hands, so let it be : 
Make but one mind in bodies three.' 

Very little authentic verse of his is now extant, nor is it probable 
that he produced much. On the other hand he has been freely 
credited with verses that do not belong to him, especially with cer- 
tain poems that are now known to be by Lodge. Mr. Grosart has 
collected twelve pieces which may be attributed to him with a fair 
amount of certainty. Of these 'A Fancy' is interesting as having 
provoked a much better poem on the same model by Lord Brooke, 
and a later imitation by Robert Southwell. It is however too 
rambling and unequal for quotation. Dyer is now remembered by 
one poem only, the well-known ' My mind to me a kingdom is,' 
which though fluent and spirited verse, probably owes most of its 
reputation to the happiness of its opening. The little poem ' To 
Phillis the Fair Shepherdess' is in the lighter, less hackneyed 
Elizabethan vein, and makes a welcome interlude among the ' woe- 
ful ballads' which immediately surround it in England s Helicon, 
where it first appeared. Still, when all is said. Dyer, a man of 
action and affairs rather than of letters, is chiefly interesting for 
his connection with Sidney and Greville ; and that stiff pathetic 
engraving of Sidney's funeral, which represents him as pall-bearer 
side by side with Lord Brooke, throws a light upon his memory 
that none of his poems have power to shed. 

The last two extracts given below are taken from a book of 
which an apparently unique copy (dated 1588) is preserved in the 
Bodleian Library, under the title of Sixe Idillia (from Theocritus). 
Mr. Collier attributes this book to Dyer, on the ground of the 
initials E. D. given on the back of the title-page. This is weak 
evidence, but the fluency and sweetness of the translations make 
us loth to reject it. 

Mary A. Ward. 



DYER. 377 



My Mind to me a Kingdom is. 

My mind to me a kingdom is, 

Such present joys therein I find, 
That it excels all other bliss 

That earth affords or grows by kind : 
Though much I want which most would have, 
Yet still my mind forbids to crave. 

No princely pomp, no wealthy store, 

No force to win the victory. 
No wily wit to salve a sore. 

No shape to feed a loving eye ; 
To none of these I yield as thrall : 
For why.'' My mind doth serve for all. 

I see how plenty [surfeits] oft, 
And hasty climbers soon do fall ; 

I see that those which are aloft 
Mishap doth threaten most of all ; 

They get with toil, they keep with fear ; 

Such cares my mind could never bear. 

Content to live, this is my stay ; 

I seek no more than may suffice ; 
I press to bear no haughty sway ; 

Look, what I lack my mind supplies : 
Lo, thus I triumph like a king. 
Content with that my mind doth bring. 

Some have too much, yet still do crave ; 

I little have, and seek no more. 
They are but poor, though much they have, 

And I am rich with little store ; 
They poor, I rich ; they beg, I give ; 
They lack, I leave ; they pine, I live. 



378 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

I laugh not at another's loss ; 

I grudge not at another's pain ; 
No worldly waves my mind can toss ; 

My state at one doth still remain : 
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend ; 
I loathe not life, nor dread my end. 

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust, 
Their wisdom by their rage of will ; 

Their treasure is their only trust ; 
A cloaked craft their store of skill : 

But all the pleasure that I find 

Is to maintain a quiet mind. 

My wealth is health and perfect ease : 
My conscience clear my chief defence ; 

I neither seek by bribes to please, 
Nor by deceit to breed offence : 

Thus do I live ; thus will I die ; 

Would all did so as well as I ! 



To Phillis the Fair Shepherdess. 

My Phillis hath the morning Sun, 

At first to look upon her : 
And Phillis hath mom-waking birds. 

Her rising still to honour. 
My Phillis hath prime feathered flowers, 

That smile when she treads on them : 
And Phillis hath a gallant flock 

That leaps since she doth own them. 
]5ut I'liillis hath too hard a heart, 

Alas, that she should have it ! 
It yields no mercy to desert 

Nor grace to those that crave it. 



DYER. 379 

Sweet Sun, when thou look'st on, 

Pray her regard my moan ! 
Sweet birds when you sing to her 

To yield some pity woo her ! 
Sweet flowers that she treads on, 

Tell her, her beauty dreads one. 
And if in life her love she nill agree me, 
Pray her before I die, she will come see mc. 



Helen's Epithalamiox. 

[From the Sixe Idillia.'] 

Like as the rising morning shows a grateful lightening. 

When sacred night is past and winter now lets loose the spring. 

So glittering Helen shined among the maids, lusty and tall. 

As is the furrow in a field that far outstretcheth all, 

Or in a garden is a Cypress tree, or in a trace 

A steed of Thessaly, so she to Sparta was a grace. 

No damsel with such works as she her baskets used to fill, 

Nor in a diverse coloured web a woof of greater skill 

Doth cut from off the loom ; nor any hath such songs and lays 

Unto her dainty harp, in Dian's and Minerva's praise, 

As Helen hath, in whose bright eyes all Loves and Graces be. 

O fair, O lovely maid, a matron now is made of thee ; 

But we will every spring unto the leaves in meadows go 

To gather garlands sweet, and there not with a little woe, 

Will often think of thee, O Helen, as the sucking lambs 

Desire the strouting bags and presence of their tender dams, 

We all betimes for thee a wreath of Melitoe will knit. 

And on a shady plane for thee will safely fasten it, 

And all betimes for thee, under a shady plane below. 

Out of a silver box the sweetest ointment will bestow ; 

And letters shall be written in the bark that men may see 

And read, Do humble reverence, for I am Helen's tree. 



380 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The Prayer of Theocritus for Syracuse. 

{Idyll i6.) 

O Jupiter, and thou Minerva fierce in fight, 
And thou Proserpina, who with thy mother hast renown 
By Lysimelia streams, in Ephyra that wealthy town. 
Out of our island drive our enemies, our bitter fate. 
Along the Sardine sea, that death of friends they may relate 
Unto their children and their wives, and that the towns -opprest 
By enemies, of th' old inhabitants may be possest : 
That they may till the fields, and sheep upon the downs may bleat 
By thousands infinite and fat, and that the herd of neat 
As to their stalls they go may press the lingering traveller. 
Let grounds be broken up for seed, what time the grasshopper 
Watching the shepherds by their flocks, in boughs close sing- 
ing lies. 
And let the spiders spread their slender webs in armories. 
So that of war the very name may not be heard again. 
But let the Poets strive. King Hiero's glory for to strain 
Beyond the Scythian sea, and far beyond those places where 
Semiramis did build those stately walls and rule did bear. 
'Mongst whom I will be one : for many other men beside 
Jove's daughters love, whose study still shall be both far and wide, 
Sicilian Arethusa with the people to advance 
And warlike Hiero. Ye Graces who keep resiance 
In the Thessalian mount Orchomenus, to Thebes of old 
So hateful, though of you beloved, to stay I will be bold 
Where 1 am bid to come, and I with them will still remain, 
That shall invite me to their house with all my Muses' train. 
Nor you will I forsake : for what to men can lovely be 
Without your company.'' The Graces always be with me. 



HENRY CONSTABLE, 

[Bom about 1555 : died before 1616. His Diana was first published in 
1592. An edition by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt was published by Pickering in 1S59.] 

Almost nothing is known of the life of Henry Constable. He 
belonged to a Yorkshire family ; he was educated at Cambridge ; 
he was acquainted with the Earl of Essex, with Anthony Bacon, 
with the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, with the Countess of 
Pembroke and Lady Rich. His sonnets to the soul of Sir Philip 
Sidney seem to prove that he was honoured with the friendship 
of the auther of the Defence of Poesie. As ' a Catholic and an 
honest man,' as he calls himself. Constable could not escape 
suspicion in the suspicious England of his time. He passed much 
of his life in exile, wandering in France, Scotland, Italy, and 
Poland, and was acquainted with prisons and courts. 

The slight but graceful genius of Constable is best defined by 
some of the epithets which his contemporary critics employed. 
They spoke of his 'pure, quick, and high delivery of conceit.' Ben 
Jonson alludes to his ' ambrosiac muse.' His secular poems are 
' Certaine sweete sonnets in the praise of his mistress, Diana,' 
conceived in the style of Ronsard and the Italians. The verses of 
his later days, when he had learned, as he says, 'to live alone 
with God,' are also sonnets in honour of the saints, and chiefly 
of Mary Magdalene. They are ingenious, and sometimes too 
cleverly confuse the passions of divine and earthly love. In 
addition to the sonnets we have four pleasant lyrics which Con- 
stable contributed to Engla7td's Helicojt. We select two of these 
pastorals, one being an idyllic dialogue between two shepherdesses ; 
the other, ' The Shepherd's Song of Venus and Adonis.' These 
things have at once the freshness of a young, and the trivial grace 
of a decadent literature, so curiously varied were the influences 
of the Renaissance in England. Shakespeare and Constable 
begin where Bion leaves off. Constable was neither more nor 
less than a fair example of a poet who followed rather than set 
the fashion. His sonnets were charged and overladen with in- 
genious conceits, but the freshness, the music, of his more free and 
flowing lyrics remain, and keep their charm. 

A. Lang. 



382 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



A Pastoral Song between Phillis and Amarillis, two 
Nymphs, each answering other line for line. 

Phillis. 
Fie on the sleights that men devise, 

Heigh ho silly sleights : 
When simple maids they would entice, 

Maids are young men's chief delights. 

Amarillis. 
Nay, women they witch with their eyes, 

Eyes like beams of burning sun : 
And men once caught, they soon despise ; 

So are shepherds oft undone. 

Phillis. 
If any young man win a maid, 

Happy man is he : 
By trusting him she is betrayed ; 

Fie upon such treachery. 

Amarillis. 
If iMaids win young men with their guiles, 

Heigh ho guileful grief ;■ 
They deal like weeping crocodiles. 

That murder men without relief 

Phillis. 
I know a simple country hind. 

Heigh ho silly swain : 
To whom fair Daphne proved kind, 

Was he not kind to her again ? 
He vowed by Pan with many an oath, 

Heigh ho shepherds God is he : 
Yet since hath changed, and broke his troth, 

Trothpiiglu broke will plagued be. 



CONSTABLE. 383 

Amarillis. 

She hath deceived many a swain, 

Fie on false deceit : 
And pUghted troth to them in vain, 

There can be no grief more great. 
Her measure was with measure paid, 

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho equal meed : 
She was beguil'd that had betrayed, 

So shall all deceivers speed. 

PhilHs. 
If ever)'' maid were like to me. 

Heigh-ho hard of heart : 
Both love and lovers scorn'd should be, 

Scorners shall be sure of smart. 

Amarillis. 

If every maid were of my mind 

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho lovely sweet : 
They to their lovers should prove kind. 

Kindness is for maidens meet. 

Phi I I is. 
Methinks, love is an idle toy. 

Heigh-ho busy pain : 
Both wit and sense it doth annoy, 

Both sense and wit thereby we gain. 

Amarillis. 
Tush ! Phillis, cease, be not so coy, 

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, coy disdain : 
I know you love a shepherd's boy, 

Fie ! that maidens so should feign ! 

Phillis, 

Well, Amarillis, now I yield. 

Shepherds, pipe aloud : 
Love conquers both in town and field. 

Like a tyrant, fierce and proud. 



584 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The evening star is up, ye see ; 

Vesper shines ; we must away ; 
Would every lover might agree, 

So we end our roundelay. 

The Shepherd's Song of Venus and Adonis. 

Venus fair did ride, 
Silver doves they drew her, 
By the pleasant launds, 
Ere the sun did rise : 
Vesta's beauty rich 
Opened wide to view her, 
Philomel records 

Pleasing harmonies. 
Every bird of spring 
Cheerfully did sing, 

Paphos' goddess they salute ; 
Now Love's Queen so fair 
Had of mirth no care : 

For her son had made her mute. 
In her breast so tender, 
He a shaft did enter. 

When her eyes beheld a boy : 
Adonis was he named, 
By his mother shamed ' : 

Yet he now is Venus' joy. 

Him alone she met 

Ready bound for hunting ; 
Him she kindly greets. 

And his journey stays ; 
Him she seeks to kiss, 

No devises wanting ; 
Him her eyes still woo ; 

Him her tongue still prays. 
He with blushing red 
Hangeth down the head, 

' See the story of Myrrha in Ovid. 



CONSTABLE. 385 



Not a kiss can he afiford ; 
His face is turned away, 
Silence said her nay, 

Still she woo'd him for a word. 
' Speak,' she said, ' thou fairest ; 

Beauty thou impairest, 
See me, I am pale and wan : 

Lovers all adore me, 

I for love implore thee ;' 
— Crystal tears with that down ran. 

Him herewith she forced 

To come sit down by her, 
She his neck embraced, 

Gazing in his face : 
He, like one transformed. 

Stirred no look to eye her ; 
Every herb did woo him, 

Growing in that place, 
Each bird with a ditty 

Prayed him for pity 
In behalf of Beauty's Queen ; 

Water's gentle murmur 

Craved him to love her : 
Yet no liking could be seen ; 
'Boy,' she said, 'look on me, 
Still I gaze upon thee. 
Speak, I pray thee, my delight.' 

Coldly he replied. 

And in brief denied 
To bestow on her a sight. 

' I am now too young 
To be won by beauty, 
Tender are my years 
I am yet a bud.' 
'Fair thou art,' she said, 
' Then it is thy duty, 
Wert thou but a blossom, 
To effect my good. 
VOL. I. C c 



.86 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Every beauteous flower 

Boasteth in my power,- 

Birds and beasts my laws effect : 

Myrrha thy fair mother, 

Most of any other, 

Did my lovely bests respect. 

Be with me delighted, 

Thou shalt be requited. 

Every Nymph on thee shall tend : 

All the Gods shall love thee, 

Man shall not reprove thee : 

Love himself shall be thy friend.' 

' Wend thee from me, Venus, 

I am not disposed ; 
Thou wring'st me too hard. 

Prithee let me go ; 
Fie ! what a pain it is 
Thus to be enclosed. 
If love begin in labour. 
It will end in woe.' 
' Kiss me, I will leave.' 
' Here a kiss receive.' 
* A short kiss I do it find : 
Wilt thou leave me so ? 
Yet thou shalt not go ; 
Breathe once more thy balmy wind. 
It smelleth of the myrrh-tree. 
That to the world did bring thee. 
Never was perfume so sweet.' 
When she had thus spoken, 
She gave him a token, 
And their naked bosoms meet. 

'Now,' he said, 'let's go, 
Hark, the hounds are crying, 
Grisly Boar is up, 
Huntsmen follow fast.' 
At the name of Boar, 
Venus seemed dying, 



CONSTABLE. 387 



Deadly coloured pale, 

Roses overcast. 

' Speak,' said she, * no more, 

Of following the Boar, 

Thou unfit for such a chase : 

Course the fearful Hare, 

Venison do not spare, 

If thou wilt yield Venus grace. 

Shun the Boar, I pray thee. 

Else I still will stay thee.' 

Herein he vowed to please her mind ; 

Then her arms enlarged, 

Loth she him discharged ; 

Forth he went as swift as wind. 

Thetis Phoebus' steeds 

In the West retained. 
Hunting sport was past ; 

Love her love did seek : 
Sight of him too soon. 
Gentle Queen she gained, 
On the ground he lay. 
Blood hath left his cheek. 
For an orped^ swine 
Smit him in the groin. 
Deadly wound his death did bring : 
Which when Venus found. 
She fell in a swound, 
And awaked, her hands did wring. 
Nymphs and Satyrs skipping. 
Came together tripping, 

Echo every cry expressed : 
Venus by her power 
Turn'd him to a flower. 
Which she weareth in her crest. 

' bristly 



C C 2 



38 S TFIE ENGLISH POETS. 



Sonnet prefixed to Sidney's Apology for 
Poetry, 1595. 

Give pardon, blessed soul ! to my bold cries, 
If they, importune, interrupt thy song, 
Which now with joyful notes thou sing'st among 
The angel-quiristers of th' heavenly skies. 
Give pardon eke, sweet soul ! to my slow cries, 
That since I saw thee now it is so long ; 
And yet the tears that unto thee belong. 
To thee as yet they did not sacrifice ; 
I did not know that thou wert dead before, 
I did not feel the grief I did sustain ; 
The greater stroke astonisheth the more. 
Astonishment takes from us sense of pain : 
I stood amaz'd when others' tears begun, 
And now begin to weep when they have done. 



THOMAS WATSON. 



[Thomas Watson was born about 1557 in London; was educated at 
Oxford; became a student of law, and died in London, probably in 1592- 
His principal writings are — a translation into Latin of Sophocles' Antigone, 
1581; The 'EKarofi-naOia, or Passionate Centurie of Love, 1582; AmynlcE 
Gaudia (in Latin), 15S5; Italian Madrigals Englished, 1590; The Teares of 
Fancy, or Love Disdained, posthumously printed in 1593. Many of his 
poems were printed in the Miscellanies of the time.] 

Thomas Watson is one of the best of the Elizabethan 'amo- 
rettists,'" or writers of wholly artificial love-poetry, and his Heca- 
tompathia, which Mr. Arber's reprint has put within the reach 
of every one, may be taken as a type and summary of the whole 
class. It consists of a hundred so-called sonnets or 'passions,' 
each of three six-lined stanzas, and each headed with a prose 
introduction describing the purport and often the literary origin 
of the poem. A series so furnished tells its own story ; and we do 
not require to go back to Watson's epistle To the frendly Reader 
to appreciate his ' trauaile in penning these louepassions,' or to 
learn that his * paines in suffering them' were 'but supposed.' 
Watson, in fact, was a purely literary poet. At Oxford, says 
Antony Wood, he spent his time 'not in logic and philosophy, 
as he ought to have done, but in the smooth and pleasant studies 
of poetry and romance.' To these studies, however, his devo- 
tion was serious ; for he mastered four languages, so that he 
writes as familiarly of Sophocles and Apollonius Rhodius as of 
Ovid, of Petrarch and Ariosto as of Ronsard. He translated the 
Antigone into Latin, and it was one of his Latin poems that gave 
him the fancy name of Amyntas, under which the poets of the 
time ranked him with Colin Clout and with Astrophel. But the 
literature that he affected most was the love-poetry of the Italians — 
of Petrarch and his followers, of Seraphine and Fiorenzuola, and 
many others that are quite forgotten now. Sometimes translating, 



39° 



TFIE ENGLISH POETS. 



sometimes paraphrasing, sometimes combining them, he tells the 
story of his imaginary love, its doubts and fears and hopes, its 
torments and disappointment and final death, in that melodious 
Elizabethan English which not even monotony and make-believe 
can wholly deprive of charm. But still, Watson and his kindred 
poets have httle more than an historical interest. They are but 
the posthumous children of the Courts of Love ; their occupation 
is to use the scholarship and the ingenuity of the Renascence to 
dress up the sentiment of the Middle Age — a sentiment no more 
real to them than it is to ourselves. They make no appeal to us ; 
their note has nothing of the note of passion and of truth that 
rings in the verse of Sidney and of Shakespeare. 

Editor, 



IVATSOK 391 



From the ' Hecatompathia.' 



Passion II. 

In this passion the Author describeth in how piteous a case the heart of 
a lover is, being (as he feigneth here) separated from his own body, 
and removed into a darksome and sohtary wilderness of woes. The 
conveyance of his invention is plain and pleasant enough of itself, and 
therefore needeth the less annotation before it. 

My heart is set him down twixt hope and fears 
Upon the stony bank of high Desire, 
To view his own made flood of blubbering tears, 
Whose waves are bitter salt, and hot as fire : 

There blows no blast of wind but ghostly groans 
Nor waves make other noise than piteous moans. 
As life were spent he waiteth Charon's boat, 
And thinks he dwells on side of Stygian lake : 
But black Despair sometimes with open throat, 
Or spiteful Jealousy doth cause him quake. 

With howling shrieks on him they call and cry 
That he as yet shall neither live nor die : 
Thus void of help he sits in heavy case, 
And wanteth voice to make his just complaint. 
No flower but Hyacinth in all the place. 
No sun comes there, nor any heav'nly saint, 
But only she, which in himself remains, 
And joys her ease though he abound in pains. 



592 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Passion XL. 

The sense contained in this Sonnet will seem strange to such as never have 
acquainted themselves with Love and his Laws, because of the con- 
traieties mentioned therein. But to such, as Love at any time hath 
had under his banner, all and every part of it will appear to be a 
familiar truth. It is almost word for word taken out of Petrarch 
(where he beginneth, 

' Pace non tniouo, e non ho da far giierra ; Parle prima 

■c . i . «.5\ Soiiei. 105. 

E temo, espero, etc. ? ) 

All, except three verses, which this Author hath necessarily added, for 
perfecting the number, which he hath determined to use in every one 
of these his passions. 

I joy not peace, where yet no war is found ; 
I fear, and hope ; I burn, yet freeze withal ; 
I mount to heav'n, yet lie but on the ground ; 
I compass nought, and yet I compass all : 

I live her bond, which neither is my foe. 

Nor friend ; nor holds me fast, nor lets me go ; 
Love will not that I live, nor lets me die ; 
Nor locks me fast, nor suffers me to scape ; 
I want both eyes and tongue, yet see and cry ; 
I wish for death, yet after help I gape ; 

I hate myself, but love another wight ; 

And feed on grief, in lieu of sweet delight ; 
At selfsame time I both lament and joy ; 
I still am pleas'd, and yet displeased still ; 
Love sometimes seems a God, sometimes a Boy; 
Sometimes I sink, sometimes I swim at will ; 

Twixt death and life, small difference I make ; 

All this dear Dame befalls me for thy sake. 



IVATSO.V. 393 



Passion LXV. 

In the first and second part of this passion, the Author proveth by exam- 
ples, or rather by manner of argument, A ?naJori ad minus, that he may 
with good reason yield himself to the empery of Love, whom the gods 
themselves obey ; as Jupiter in heaven, Neptune in the seas, and Pluto 
in hell. In the last staff he imitateth certain Italian verses of M. Giro- 
lamo Parabosco ; which are as foUoweth : — 

' Occhi tuoi, anzi stelle ahne, et fatali, Selua Seconda. 

Que ha prescritto il del mio mal, mio bene ; 

Mie lagrime, e sospir, mio riso, e canto ; 

Mia speme, mio tinior ; mio foco e giaccio; 

Mia noia mio piacer ; mia vila e morte^ 

Who knoweth not, how often Venus' son 

Hath forced Jupiter to leave his seat ? 

Or else, how often Neptune he hath won 

From seas to sands, to play some wanton feat ? 
Or, how he hath constrained the Lord of Styx 
To come on earth, to practise loving tricks ? 

If heav'n, if seas, if hell must needs obey, 

And all therein be subject unto Love ; 

What shall it then avail, if I gainsay. 

And to my double hurt his pow'r do prove ? 
No, no, I yield myself, as is but meet : 
For hitherto with sour he yields me sweet. 

From out my mistress' eyes, two lightsome stars, 

He destinates estate of double kind. 

My tears, my smiling cheer ; my peace, my wars ; 

My sighs, my songs ; my fear, my hoping mind ; 
My fire, my frost ; my joy, my sorrow's gall ; 
My curse, my praise ; my death, but life with all. 



JOHN LYLY. 



[Little is kno\vn of Lyly's life. He was bom in Kent in 1554, studied 
at Magdalen College, Oxford, was patronised by Lord Burghley, and wrote 
plays for the Child players at the Chapel Royal, — the ' aery of children,' 
alluded to in Hamlet, ' little eyases, that cry out on the top of the question 
and are most tyrannically clapped for't' He died in 1606. His Eupkiies 
was published, first part in 1579, second part in 1580.] 



The airy mirthful plays and pretty little songs of the 'witty, 
comical, facetiously quick and unparalleled John Lyly,' as his 
publisher described him, are a standing refutation of M. Taine's 
picture of England in the Elizabethan age as a sort of den of wild 
beasts. No Frenchman in any age was ever more light and gay 
than Queen Elizabeth's favourite writer of comedies, and the 
inventor or perfecter of a fashionable style of sentimental speech 
among her courtiers. 

The epithet 'unparalleled' applied to Lyly was more exact than 
puffs generally are. Though he is said to have set a fashion of 
talk among the ladies of the Court and their admirers, he found 
no imitator in letters ; his peculiar style perished from literature 
with himself. Scott's Sir Percie Shafton is called a Euphuist, 
and is supposed to be an attempt at historical reproduction, but 
the caricature has hardly any point of likeness with the supposed 
original as we see it in the language which Lyly puts into the mouth 
of Euphues himself. Shafton is much more like Sidney's Rhom- 
bus or Shakespeare's Holofernes, a fantastic pedant at whom the 
real Euphuists would have mocked with as genuine contempt as 
plain people of the present time. The dainty courtier Boyet, in 
Love's Labour's Lost, who, according to the sarcastic Biron, ' picks 
up wit as pigeons pease,' is perhaps the nearest approach to a 
Euphuist such as was modelled upon Lyly that we have in 
literature. The essence of Lyly's Euphuism is its avoidance of 



LYLY. 395 

cumbrous and clumsy circumlocution ; his style is neat, precise, 
quick, balanced ; full of puns and pretty conceits — 

' Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies. 
Playing with words and idle similes,' 

as a satirist of the time describes it — but never verbose and heavy 
as the Euphuists' style is sometimes represented. 

Lyly wrote more comedies than any writer that preceded him, 
but he had no influence that can be traced upon our literature. 
We seem to find the key to their character in the fact that they 
were written to be played by children and heard and seen by 
ladies. Their pretty love-scenes, joyous pranks, and fantastically 
worded moralisings, were too light and insubstantial as fare for 
the common stage, and they were superseded as Court entertain- 
ments after Elizabeth's death by masques in which ingenious 
scenic effects were the chief attraction, and plays with an ampler 
allowance of blood and muscle. Lyly's childlike comedies, with 
their pigmy fun and pretty sentiment, were brushed aside by plays 
that appealed more seriously to the senses and the imagination ; 
but it seems almost a pity that the example of his neatness and 
finish in construction did not take root. Perhaps the daintiness in 
his manipulation of his materials would have been impossible if 
the materials had been coarser or more solid. 

Only one of Lyly's undoubted comedies, The Woniaji in the 
Moon, was written in verse, and the verse differs little from his 
prose. It shows the same neat, ingenious workmanship. The 
reader is not conscious of any inward pressure of heightened 
feeling upon Lyly's verse ; he probably chose this instrument in 
preference to prose because it had become fashionable. 

W. MiNTO. 



396 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Sappho's Song. 

[From Sappho and Phao.'] 

O cruel Love ! on thee I lay 

My curse, which shall strike blind the day; 

Never may sleep with velvet hand 

Charm thine eyes with sacred wand ; 

Thy jailors still be hopes and fears ; 

Thy prison-mates groans, sighs, and tears ; 

Thy play to wear out weary times, 

Fantastic passions, vows, and rhymes ; 

Thy bread be frowns ; thy drink be gall ; 

Such as when you Phao call 

The bed thou liest on by despair ; 

Thy sleep, fond dreams ; thy dreams, long care ; 

Hope (like thy fool) at thy bed's head. 

Mock thee, till madness strikes thee dead. 

As Phao, thou dost me, with thy proud eyes. 

In thee poor Sappho lives, in thee she dies. 



Apelles' Song. 

[From Alexander and Cainpas.pe!\ 

Cupid and my Campaspe played 

At cards for kisses — Cupid paid. 

He stakes his quiver, bows and arrows. 

His mother's doves and team of sparrows : 

Loses them too ; then down he throws 

The coral of his lip, the rose 

Growing on 's check (but none knows how) ; 

With these the crystal of his brow, 

And then the dimple of his chin — • 

All these did my Campaspe win. 



LYLY. 397 



At last He set her both his eyes.— 
She won, and Cupid blind did rise. 
O Love, has she done this to thee ? 
What shall, alas ! become of me ? 



Pan's Song. 

[From Midai.'\ 

Pan's Syrinx was a girl indeed, 
Though now she's turned into a reed. 
From that dear reed Pan's pipe doth come, 
A pipe that strikes Apollo dumb ; 
Nor flute, nor lute, nor gittern can 
So chant it, as the pipe of Pan. 
Cross-gartered swains, and dairy girls. 
With faces smug and round as pearls. 
When Pan's shrill pipe begins to play. 
With dancing wear out night and day; 
The bag-pipe drone his hum lays by 
When Pan sounds up his minstrelsy. 
His minstrelsy ! O base ! This quill 
Which at my mouth with wind I fill 
Puts me in mind though her I miss 
That still my Syrinx' lips I kiss. 



GEORGE PEELE. 



[George Peele was probably bom in ,1558. He was ' a most noted poet 
in the University ' of Oxford, and taking up his residence in London became 
one of the band of Univeisity writers for the stage, with whom the 'player' 
Shakespeare's first efforts as a dramatist brought him into conflict. His 
first published play was a ' pastoral,' The Arraignment of Paris, which had 
been performed before Queen Elizabeth in 1584. It is supposed that he 
wrote more plays for the public stage than have been preserved. He also 
composed pageants for the great city festivals, making a precarious living 
by his wits. Occasional verses of Peele's appear in the poetic collections 
of the period. He died before 1598.] 

Peele was one of the singers before the great Elizabethan 
sunrise, and his notes contain no anticipatory vibration of the 
burst of song that was to follow him. His University friends, 
even after Marlowe had made his voice heard, spoke of him as 
the Atlas of poetry, inferior to none, and in some respects supe- 
rior to all ; but this partial verdict can now be recorded only 
as an example of how contemporary criticism is sometimes mis- 
taken. In reading his plays now one is more astonished that 
Greene and Nash should have considered him worthy to be named 
in the same breath with Marlowe, than that the theatrical managers 
of the time, so much to their indignation, should have rejected his 
plays in favour of the productions of non-academic workmen. 
Peele's blank verse, which was so much admired by his academic 
contemporaries, gives us a fair idea of the environment out of 
which Marlowe emerged, and increases our admiration of that 
mighty genius. It deserves the praise of 'smoothness' which it 
received from Campbell ; it is graceful and elegant, but it has 
neither sinew nor majesty. I have quoted what seems to me to 
be the most favourable example of his use of this instrument, an 
address prefixed to one of his plays, The Tale of Troy, published 
in 15^9, two years after the production of Tamburlaine. The 



PEELE. 399 

inspiration of the subject seems to have contributed a fire and 
a freedom of movement which is generally lacking in Peele's blank 
verse. In using this form at all, Peele essayed an instrument 
which was beyond his powers and unsuited to his bent of feeling. 
His was an adroit, subtle, versatile mind, without massiveness or 
passionate intensity, and he is seen at his best in the expression 
of graceful and humorous fancies. He was not however a follower 
of Marlowe in the application of blank verse to tragic purposes. 
In the Arraignment of Paris^ the prologue spoken by Ate is in 
that metre, and it is also adopted by Paris in his speech before the 
council of the Gods, and by Diana in her description of the nymph 
Eliza, a ' figure ' of Queen Elizabeth. This seems to show that 
among the University poets, from whose circle Marlowe burst 
to reform the common stage, blank verse was considered the 
appropriate instrument for tragic and stately speeches. But it 
was not apparently till after the production of Tanihurlainc that 
Peele wrote whole plays in blank verse. David and BctJisabe is 
the best of these, and is full of happy touches in the tender scenes, 
but the firmness of a masterly hand is wanting. The verse seldom 
moves far without having recourse to the crutch of weak and 
superfluous epithets. In the Battle of Alcazar Peele tried, perhaps 
at the instigation of his hard taskmasters the theatrical managers, 
to make up by sound and fury for his want of natural strength in 
the expression of passion, and thereby furnished Shakespeare with 
the model for some of the best-known extravagances of Pistol. 
Peele has also left us in Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes an 
example of the jigging measure of fourteen syllables, from which 
Marlowe aspired to redeem the stage. It cannot be said that 
Peele helped forward the great literary movement of his time ; he 
is perhaps the best illustration of the utmost that could be done by 
a cultured man of facile talent and poetic temperament before the 
advent of the great Elizabethans. 

W. MiNTO. 



400 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



A Farewell to Sir John Norris and Sir Francis 
Drake. 

Have done with care, my hearts ! aboard amain, 

With stretching sails to plough the swelling waves ; 

Bid England's shore and Albion's chalky cliffs 

Farewell ; bid stately Troynovant adieu, 

Where pleasant Thames from I sis silver head 

Begins her quiet glide, and runs along 

To that brave bridge, the bar that thwarts her course, 

Near neighbour to the ancient stony tower, 

The glorious hold that Julius Caesar built. 

Change love for arms ; girt to your blades, my boys ! 

Your rests and muskets take, take helm and targe, 

And let God Mars his consort make you mirth — 

The roaring cannon, and the brazen trump. 

The angry-sounding drum, the whistling fife, 

The shrieks of men, the princely courser's neigh. 

Now vail your bonnets to your friends at home ; 

Bid all the lovely British dames adieu. 

That under many a standard well-advanced 

Have hid the sweet alarms and braves of love ; 

Bid theatres and proud tragedians, 

Bid Mahomet, Scipio, and mighty Tamburlaine, 

King Charlemagne, Tom Stukely, and the rest. 

Adieu. To arms, to arms, to glorious arms ! 

With noble Norris, and victorious Drake, 

Under the sanguine cross, brave England's badge, 

To propagate religious piety 

And hew a passage with your conquering swords 

By land and sea, wherever Phoebus' eye, 

Th' eternal lamp of Heaven, lends us light ; 

By golden Tagus, or the western Ind, 

Or through the spacious bay of Portugal, 

The wealthy ocean-main, the Tyrrhene sea, 

From great Alcides' pillars branching forth, 

Even to the gulf that leads to lofty Rome ; 

There to deface the pride of Antichrist, 

And pull his paper walls and popery down — 

A famous enterprise for England's strength, 



FEELE. 401 

To steel your swords on Avarice' triple crown, 
And cleanse Augeas' stalls in Italy. 
To arms, my fellow-soldiers ! Sea and land 
Lie open to the voyage you intend ; 
And sea or land, bold Britons, far or near. 
Whatever course your matchless virtue shapes, 
Whether to Europe's bounds or Asian plains. 
To Afric's shore, or rich America, 
Down to the shades of deep Avernus' crags, 
Sail on, pursue your honours to your graves. 
Heaven is a sacred covering for your heads, 
And every climate virtue's tabernacle. 
To arms, to arms, to honourable anns ! 
Hoist sails, weigh anchors up, plough up the seas 
With flying keels, plough up the land with swords. 
In God's name venture on ; and let me say 
To you, my mates, as Caesar said to his. 
Striving with Neptune's hills ; ' You bear,' quoth he, 
' Caesar and Caesar's fortune in your ships.' 
You follow them, whose swords successful are ;. 
You follow Drake, by sea the scourge of Spain, 
The dreadful dragon, terror to your foec. 
Victorious in his return from Ind, 
In all his high attempts unvanquished. 
You follow noble Norris, whose renown. 
Won in the fertile fields of Belgia, 
Spreads by the gates of Europe to the courts 
Of Christian kings and heathen potentates. 
You fight for Christ, and England's peerless Queen, 
Elizabeth, the wonder of the world, 
Over whose throne the enemies of God 
Have thundered erst their vain successless braves, 
O ten times treble happy men, that fight 
Under the cross of Christ and England's Queen, 
And follow such as Drake and Norris are ! 
All honours do this cause accompany. 
All glory on these endless honours waits. 
These honours and this glory shall He send 
Whose honour and whose glory you defend. 
VOL. I. D d 



ROBERT GREENE. 



[Robert Greene was bora at Norwich, probably in 1560. He was a 
graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1578, but took his degree of 
M.A. five years later at Clare Hall. After this he travelled in Italy and 
Spain, and, returning to London, gained his living as a playwright and 
pamphleteer. He died in Dowgate, Sept. 3, 1592. His first work was the 
novel of Mamillia, 1580, which was followed by a rapid succession of 
tales, poems, plays, and pamphlets. His most remarkable lyrics appeared 
in Menaphon, 1587; Never Too Late, mqo ; and The Mojiniins Garmstu, 
1590-] 

It has been well said that the lyrical brightness of Greene's 
smaller poems compared with the tame versification of his plays, 
is as surprising as 'when an indifferent walker proves a light 
and graceful runner.' Yet the reason is perhaps not very far to 
find ; personally a lover of riotous companions and outrageous 
surfeiting, this hopeless reprobate was imaginatively one of the 
purest of idyllic dreamers. There was an absolute chasm between 
the foulness of his life and the serenity of his intellect, and, 
at least until he became a repentant character, no literary theme 
interested him very much, unless it was interpenetrated with 
sentimental beauty. This element inspired what little was glowing 
and eloquent in his plays ; it tinctured the whole of his pastoral 
romances with a rosy Euphuism, and it turned the best of his 
lyrics to the pure fire and air of poetry. J>om his long sojourn 
in Italy and Spain he brought back a strong sense of the 
physical beauty of men and women, of fruits, flowers, and trees, 
of the coloured atmosphere and radiant compass of a southern 
heaven. All these things passed into his prose and into his 
verse, so that in many of the softer graces and innocent volup- 
tuous indiscretions of the Elizabethan age he is as much a 
forerunner as Marlowe is in audacity of thought and the thunders 
of a massive line. For the outward part of his prose style he 



GREENE. 403 

was obviously indebted to Lyly ; for the inward character of his 
poetical matter less obviously, but more essentially, to Spenser, 
whose antiquated idioms, even, he affected to cherish. The pub- 
lication of Eiiphnes just preceded his apprenticeship in letters, 
and without question stimulated him to the production of his 
first work. He never reached the sententious force and per- 
suasive morality of Lyly's extraordinary master-piece, but he made 
this form of literature acceptable to a less exacting taste. His 
own pastorals enjoyed a very wide success, and were imitated 
with more or less talent by Lodge, Dickenson, and other writers 
of less note. They were dehcate blossoms of exotic growth, 
appeahng wholly to a hterary taste, and, being unable to hold their 
ground after the close of the sixteenth century', they were com- 
pletely swept away by the tide of realistic pamphlets, coarse 
comedies, and sensational tragedies. It is impossible to regret 
this, because, although these tales of Arcadia and Silistria were 
full of sweetness and tender beauty, they were foreign to our 
native habit of mind, and their prevalence might have doomed 
us to some such tradition of artificial poetry as the example of 
Petrarch so long inflicted on Itahan hterature. 

The lyrics of Greene show a sense of colour that recalls the 
masters of Italian painting in the century that preceded him, and 
it was certainly in the art of the south of Europe that he formed his 
favourite conception of the brown shepherd and rosy nymph re- 
clining in a whispering boscage of green shadow, to whom appears 

in vision — 

' the God that hateth sleep, 
Clad in armour all of fire. 
Hand in hand with Queen Desire.' 

His employment of metre and rhythm were in unison with this 
golden style of imagery. His metres are very various, and are 
usually in direct analogy with the theme in hand. Doron glori- 
fies Samela in a stanza that sounds like the tramp of a conquering 
army, while Menaphon laments the precarious and volatile nature 
of love in lines that rise and fall with the rush of a swallow's 
flight. Towards the end of his life Greene lost something of this 
metrical elasticity, and adopted for most of his ideas a sober six- 
line stanza ; his only long poem, A Maiden^s Dream, is written in 
rime-royal. 

It is not easy to say much of the shorter pieces of Greene 
which is not also true of all the best verses of the early Elizabethan 

D d 2 



404 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

period. He is the type of that warm brood of poetic youth that 
still sings in chorus from the dells of England^ s Helicott, or the 
Paradise of Princely Pleasures. Life and the whole world of 
youthful pleasures attract him with their delight, and he hastens 
to clothe himself in a gay silken doublet, and to throw away his 
forefather's Puritan coat of hodden gray. But anything more 
specific and definite than this it would scarcely be safe to say. 
Greene has not Lodge's individuality of style, nor does he ap- 
proach his finest flights, but he is more nearly allied to him than 
to any other of his contemporaries. It will probably seem to a 
careful reader that his ordinary level of writing was sustained at 
a higher point than Lodge's. In his rapid passages of octosyllabic 
verse Greene sometimes comes very close to Barnefield, and, 
through that mysterious and exquisite poet, to the juvenile manner 
of Shakespeare, with whom, as is well known, he cultivated a lively 
spirit of rivalry. But the most curious and notable thing, after 
all, about Greene's poetry is that, in all its sylvan sweetness, it 
should have proceeded from the lawless bully, whose ruffled hair 
and long red beard became a beacon and terror to all good 
citizens, till in the midst of his 'villainous cogging and foisting,' 
and all his rascally sleights, he was carried off in the thirty-second 
year of his life by a surfeit of Rhenish wine and pickled herrings. 
Upon the poor dishonoured head of this strange genius, the 
wretched woman who was with him when he died set a garland 
of bay-leaves, in a happy prescience of the tenderness with which 
posterity would pardon all his sins for the sake of his pure and 
beautiful verses. 

Edmund W. Gosse. 



GREENE. 405 



Sephestia's Song to her Child. 

Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee ; 
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee. 

Mother's wag, pretty boy, 

Father's sorrow, father's joy ; 

When thy father first did see 

Such a boy by him and me, 

He was glad, I was woe, 

Fortune changed made him so, 

When he left his pretty boy 

Last his sorrow, first his joy. 

Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee. 
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee. 

Streaming tears that never stint. 

Like pearl drops from a flint. 

Fell by course from his eyes. 

That one another's place supplies ; 

Thus he grieved in every part. 

Tears of blood fell from his heart, 

When he left his pretty boy, 

Father's sorrow, father's joy. 

Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee, 
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee. 

The wanton smiled, father wept, 

Mother cried, baby leapt ; 

More he crowed, more we cried. 

Nature could not sorrow hide : 

He must go, he must kiss 

Child and mother, baby bless, 

For he left his pretty boy. 

Father's sorrow, father's joy. 
Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee, 
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee. 



4o6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



SAMELA. 

Like to Diana in her summer weed, 

Girt with a crimson robe of brightest dye, 

Goes fair Samela ; 
Whiter than be the flocks that straggHng feed, 
When washed by Arethusa faint they He, 

Is fair Samela ; 
As fair Aurora in her morning grey. 
Decked with the ruddy glister of her love, 

Is fair Samela ; 
Like lovely Thetis on a calmed day. 
When as her brightness Neptune's fancy move, 

Shines fair Samela ; 
Her tresses gold, her eyes like glassy streams. 
Her teeth are pearl, the breasts are ivory 

Of fair Samela ; 
Her cheeks, like rose and lily yield forth gleams, 
Her brow's bright arches framed of ebony ; 

Thus fair Samela 
Passeth fair Venus in her bravest hue. 
And Juno in the show of majesty, 

For she's Samela, 
Pallas in wit ; all three, if you well view, 
For beauty, wit, and matchless dignity 

Yield to Samela. 



Fawn I A. 

Ah, were she pitiful as she is fair. 

Or but as mild as she is seeming so, 
Then were my hopes greater than my despair, 

Then all the world were heaven, nothing woe. 
Ah, were her heart relenting as her hand, 

That seems to melt even with the mildest touch, 
Then knew I where to seat me in a land, 

Under wide hoiivcns, but yet [I know] not such. 



GREENE. 407 

So as she shows, she seems the budding rose, 

Yet sweeter far than is an earthly flower, 
Sovereign of beauty, Hke the spray she grows, 

Compassed she is with thorns and cankered flower, 
Yet were she willing to be plucked and worn, 
She would be gathered, though she grew on thorn. 

Ah, when she sings, all music else be still, 

For none must be compared to her note ; 
Ne'er breathed such glee from Philomela's bill, 

Nor from the morning-singer's swelling throat. 
Ah, when she riseth from her blissful bed. 

She comforts all the world, as doth the sun. 
And at her sight the night's foul vapour's fled ; 

When she is set, the gladsome day is done. 
O glorious sun, imagine me the west, 
Shine in my arms, and set thou in my breast ! 



The Palmer's Ode in 'Never too Late.' 

Old Menalcas, on a day, 

As in field this shepherd lay, 

Tuning of his oaten pipe. 

Which he hit with many a stripe, 

Said to Coridon that he 

Once was young and full of glee. 

* Blithe and wanton was I then : 

Such desires follow men. 

As I lay and kept my sheep. 

Came the God that hateth sleep. 

Clad in armour all of fire. 

Hand in hand with queen Desire, 

And with a dart that wounded nigh. 

Pierced my heart as I did lie ; 

That when I woke I 'gan swear 

Phillis beauty's palm did bear. 

Up I start, forth went I, 

With her face to feed mine eye ; 



4o8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



There I saw Desire sit, 

That my heart with love had hit, 

Laying forth bright beauty's hooks 

To entrap my gazing looks. 

Love I did, and 'gan to woo. 

Pray and sigh ; all would not do : 

Women, when they take the toy, 

Covet to be counted coy. 

Coy she was, and I 'gan court ; 

She thought love was but a sport ; 

Profound hell was in my thought ; 

Such a pain desire had wrought, 

That I sued with sighs and tears ; 

Still ingrate she stopped her ears, 

Till my youth I had spent. 

Last a passion of repent 

Told me flat, that Desire 

Was a brond of love's fire, 

Which consumeth men in thrall. 

Virtue, youth, wit, and all. 

At this saw, back I start, 

Beat Desire from my heart. 

Shook off Love, and made an oath 

To be enemy to both. 

Old I was when thus I fled 

Such fond toys as cloyed my head, 

But this I learned at Virtue's gate, 

The way to good is never late.' 



Song. 

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content; 

The quiet mind is richer than a crown ; 
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent ; 

The poor estate scorns fortune's angry frown : 
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss, 
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss. 



GREENE. 409 

The homely house that harbours quiet rest ; 

The cottage that affords no pride nor care ; 
The mean that 'grees with country music best ; 

The sweet consort of mirth and music's fare ; 
Obscured Hfe sets down a type of bliss : 
A mind content both crown and kingdom is. 



Philomela's Ode. 

Sitting by a river's side, 
Where a silent stream did glide, 
Muse I did of many things, 
That the mind in quiet brings. 
I 'gan think how some men deem 
Gold their god ; and some esteem 
Honour is the chief content. 
That to man in life is lent. 
And some others do contend, 
Quiet none, like to a friend. 
Others hold, there is no wealth 
Compared to a perfect health. 
Some man's mind in quiet stands, 
When he is lord of many lands : 
But I did sigh, and said all this 
Was but a shade of perfect bliss ; 
And in my thoughts I did approve, 
Nought so sweet as is true love. 
Love 'twixt lovers passeth these, 
When mouth kisseth and heart 'grees. 
With folded arms and lips meeting, 
Each soul another sweetly greeting ; 
For by the breath the soul fleeteth, 
And soul with soul in kissing meeteth. 
If love be so sweet a thing. 
That such happy bliss doth bring, 
Happy is love's sugared thrall, 
But unhappy maidens all, 



4 to THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Who esteem your virgin blisses, 
Sweeter than a wife's sweet kisses. 
No such quiet to the mind, 
As true Love with kisses kind : 
But if a kiss prove unchaste, 
Then is true love quite disgraced. 
Though love be sweet, learn this of mc, 
No sweet love but honesty. 



Orpheus' Soxg. 

He that did sing the motions of the stars, 
Pale-coloured Phoebe's borrowing of her light, 

Aspects of planets oft opposed in jars. 

Of Hesper, henchman to the day and night ; 

Sings now of love, as taught by proof to sing, 

Women are false, and love a bitter thing. 

I loved Eurydice, the brightest lass, 

More fond to like so fair a nymph as she ; 

In Thessaly so bright none ever was, 
But fair and constant hardly may agree : 

False-hearted wife to him that loved thee well, 

To leave thy love, and choose the prince of hell ! 

Theseus did help, and I in haste did hie 

To Pluto, for the lass I loved so : 
The god made grant, and who so glad as I ? 

I tuned my harp, and she and I 'gan go ; 
Glad that my love was left to me alone, 
I looked back, Eurydice was gone : 

She slipped aside, back to her latest love. 

Unkind, she wronged her first and truest feere ! 

Thus women's loves delight, as trial proves 
By false Eurydice I loved so dear. 

To change and fleet, and every way to shrink. 

To take in love, and lose it with a wink. 



CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE. 

[Christopher Marlowe was bom at Canterbury in February, 1564, an<\ 
educated at the Kings School in his birth-place, and -^ ^enet (Co.puj 
Christi) College, Cambridge. He was ki led m a tavern brawl.^and wa 
buried at Deptford, June i, 1593- The dates and order of h s works are 
somewhat uncertain. Of his plays, the first, -ra^nburla^nethe Gr a^ a 
tracredy in two parts, must have been acted m public by I587- ^t ^^^ 
olfowed by The'^Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, The Jeu. of Ma^ta (pro- 
bably in 1589 or 1590), rke Massacre at Paris (not earher than the end of 
XS89). E/JrdII,L The Tragedy of Q,.en Dido which was probabb 
left unfinished at Marlowe's death, and completed by Nash Anothe 
play Lust's Dominion, was for some time wrongly attributed to Marlowe 
but in return for this injustice, the probability that he may have had at 
lea t a share in Shakespeare's 2 and 3 Henry VI, or in the plays on which 
those dramas were based, is now rather widely admitted Of his poerns. 
the translations of Ovid's Amores and the first book of Lucan s Pharsaha 
are of uncertain date. The Passionate Shepherd to his Lo.. was A^st Prm ed 
complete in England's Helicon, 1600, but is quoted m The Jeiu of Malta. 
Zland Leander was left unfinished at Marlowe's death; Chapman 
completed it, dividing Marlowe's fragment into two parts, which now lorm 
the first two Sestiads of the poem.] 

Marlowe has one claim on our afifection which everyone is ready 
to acknowledge ; he died young. We think of him along with 
Chatterton and Burns, with Byron, Shelley, and Keats. And this 
is a fact of some importance for the estimate of his hfe and genms. 
His poetical career lasted only six or seven years, and he did not 
outUve his 'hot days, when the mad blood's stirring.' An old ballad 
tells us that he acted at the Curtain theatre in Shoreditch and 
' brake his leg in one rude scene, When in his early age.' If there 
is any truth in the last statement, we may suppose that Marlowe 
gave up acting and confined himself to authorship. He seems to 
have depended for his livelihood on his connection with the stage ; 
and probably, like many of his fellows and friends, he lived m 
a free and even reckless way. A more unusual characteristic of 
Marlowe's was his 'atheism.' No reliance can be placed on the 



412 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

details recorded on this subject ; but it was apparently only his 
death that prevented judicial proceedings being taken against him 
on account of his opinions. The note on which these proceedings 
would have been founded was the work of one Bame, who thought 
that ' all men in christianitei ought to endeavour that the mouth of 
so dangerous a member may be stopped,' and was hanged at 
Tyburn about eighteen months afterwards. But other testimony 
points in the same direction ; and a celebrated passage in Greene s 
Groatsworth of Wit would lead us to suppose that Marlowe was 
given to blatant profanities. Whatever his offences may have 
been— and there is nothing to make us think he was a bad-hearted 
man— he had no time to make men forget them. He was not 
thirty when he met his death. 

The plan of the present volumes excludes selections from Mar- 
lowe's plays ; but as his purely poetical works give but a one-sided 
idea of his genius, and as his importance in the history of literature 
depends mainly on his dramatic writings, some general reference 
must be made to them. Even if they had no enduring merits of 
their own, their effect upon Shakespeare — an effect which, to say 
nothing of Henry VI, is most clearly visible in Richard I U — and 
their influence on the drama would preserve them from neglect. 
The nature of this influence may be seen by a glance at Marlowe's 
first play. On the one hand it stands at the opposite pole to the 
classic form of the drama as it is found in Seneca, a form which 
had been adopted in Gorbodnc, and which some of the more 
learned writers attempted to nationalise. There is no Chorus in 
Tamburlaine or in any of Marlowe's plays except Dr. Faustus ; 
and the action takes place on the stage instead of being merely 
reported. On the other hand, in this, the first play in blank verse 
which was publicly acted, he called the audience 

' From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits, 
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,' 

and fixed the metre of his drama for ever as the metre of English 
tragedy. And, though neither here nor in Dr. Faustus could he 
yet afford to cast off all the conceits of clownage, he was in effect 
iDCginning to substitute works of art for the formless popular re- 
presentations of the day. Doubtless it was only a beginning. The 
two parts of Tavtburlaine are not great tragedies. They are full 
of mere horror and glare. Of the essence of drama, a sustained and 
developed action, there is as yet very little ; and what action there 



MARLOWE. 413 



is proceeds almost entirely from the rising passion of a single 
character. Nor in the conception of this character has Marlowe 
quite freed himself from the defect of the popular plays, in which, 
naturally enough, personified virtues and vices often took the 
place of men. Still, if there is a touch of this defect in Tainburlawe, 
as in the Jew of Malta, it is no more than a touch. The ruling 
passion is conceived with an intensity, and portrayed with a sweep 
of imagination unknown before ; a requisite for the drama hardly 
less important than the faculty of construction is attained, and the 
way is opened for those creations which are lifted above the 
common and yet are living flesh and blood. It is the same with 
the language. For the buffoonery he partly displaced Marlowe 
substitutes a swelling diction, ' high astounding terms,' and some 
outrageous bombast, such as that which Shakespeare reproduced 
and put into the mouth of Pistol. But, laugh as we will, in this 
first of Marlowe's plays there is that incommunicable gift which 
means almost everything, style ; a manner perfectly individual, 
and yet, at its best, free from eccentricity. The ' mighty line ' of 
which Jonson spoke, and a pleasure, equal to Milton's, in resounding 
proper names, meet us in the very first scene ; and in not a few 
passages passion, instead of vociferating, finds its natural expression, 
and we hear the fully-formed style, which in Marlowe's best 
writing is, to use his own words, 

' Like his desire, lift upward and divine.' 

'Lift upward' Marlowe's style was at first, and so it I'emained. 
It degenerates into violence, but never into softness. If it falters, 
the cause is not doubt or languor, but haste and want of care. 
It has the energy of youth ; and a hving poet has described this 
among its other qualities when he speaks of Marlowe as singing 

' With mouth of gold, and morning in his ejes.' 

As a dramatic instrument it developed with his growth and 
acquired variety. The stately monotone of Tamburlaine, in which 
the pause falls almost regularly at the end of the lines, gives place 
in Edward II to rhythms less suited to pure poetry, but far more 
rapid and flexible. In Dr. Faustus the great address to Helen is 
as different in metrical effect as it is in spirit from the last scene, 
where the words seem, like Faustus heart, to ' pant and quiver.' 
Even in the Massacre at Paris, the worst of his plays, the style 
becomes unmistakeable in such passages as this : 



414 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' Give me a look, that, when I bend the brows, 
Pale Death may walk in furrows of my face ; 
A hand that with a grasp may gripe the world; 
An ear to hear what my detractors say ; 
A royal seat, a sceptre, and a crown ; 
That those that do behold them may become 
As men that stand and gaze against the sim.' 

The expression 'lift upward' applies also, in a sense, to most 
of the chief characters in the plays. Whatever else they may 
lack, they know nothing of half-heartedness or irresolution. A 
volcanic self-assertion, a complete absorption in some one desire, 
is their characteristic. That in creating such characters Marlowe 
was working in dark places, and that he developes them with all 
his energy, is certain. But that in so doing he shows (to refer to 
a current notion of him) a ' hunger and thirst after unrighteousness,' 
a desire, that is, which never has produced or could produce true 
poetry, is an idea which Hazlitt could not have really intended to 
convey. Marlowe's works are tragedies. Their greatness lies not 
merely in the conception of an unhallowed lust, however gigantic, 
but in an insight into its tragic significance and tragic results ; 
and there is as little food for a hunger after unrighteousness (if 
there be such a thing) in the appalling final scene of Dr. Faiistus, 
or, indeed, in the melancholy of Mephistopheles, so grandly 
touched by Marlowe, as in the catastrophe of Richard III or of 
Goethe's Faust. It is true, again, that in the later acts of the yew 
of Malta Barabas has become a mere monster ; but for that very 
reason the character ceases to show Marlowe's peculiar genius, 
and Shakespeare himself has not portrayed the sensual lust after 
gold, and the touch of imagination which redeems it from in- 
significance, with such splendour as the opening speech of Mar- 
lowe's play. Whatever faults however the earlier plays have, it is 
clear, \^ Edward II he. one of his latest works, that Marlowe was 
rapidly outgrowing them. For in that play, to say nothing of the 
two great scenes to which Lamb gave such high praise, the 
interest is no longer confined to a single character, and there is the 
most decided advance both in construction and in the dialogue. 

Of the weightier qualities of Marlowe's genius the extracts from 
his purely poetical works give but little idea ; but just for that 
reason they testify to the variety of his powers. Everyone knows 
the verses 'Come live with me, and be my love,' with their pretty 
mixture of gold buckles and a belt of straw. This was a very 



MARLOWE. 415 



popular song ; Raleigh wrote an answer to it ; and its flowing 
music has run in many a head beside Sir Hugh Evans's. But the 
shepherd would hardly be called 'passionate' outside the Arcadia 
to which the lyric really belongs. Of the beautiful fragment in 
ottava rima nothing is known, except that it was first printed with 
Marlowe's name in England's Parnasstcs, 1600. The translations 
of Lucan and Ovid (the former in blank verse) were perhaps early 
studies. It is curious that Marlowe should have set himself so 
thankless a task as a version of Lucan w-hich literally gives line 
for line ; but the choice of the author is characteristic. The 
translation of 0\\d.'s Ainores was burnt on account of its indecency 
in 1599, and it would have been no loss to the world if all the 
copies had perished. The interest of these translations is mainly 
historical. They testify to the passion for classical poetry, and in 
particular to that special fondness for Ovid of which the literature 
of the time affords many other proofs. The study of Virgil and 
Ovid was a far less mixed good for poetry than that of Seneca and 
Plautus ; and it is perhaps worth noticing that ?vIarlowe, who felt 
the charm of classical amatory verse, and whose knowledge of 
Virgil is shown in his Queen Dido, should have been the man 
who, more than any other, secured the theatre from the dominion 
of inferior classical dramas. 

How fully he caught the inspiration, not indeed of the best 
classical poetry, but of that world of beauty which ancient literature 
seemed to disclose to the men of the Renascence, we can see 
in many parts of his writings, in Faust's address to Helen, in 
Gaveston's description of the sports at Court, in the opening of 
Queen Dido ; but the fullest proof of it is the fragment of Hero 
and Leander. Beaumont wrote a Salinacis and Hermaphroditus, 
Shakespeare a Venus and Adonis, but both found their true 
vehicle in the drama. Marlowe's poem not only stands far above 
one of these tales, and perhaps above both, but it stands on a 
level with his plays ; and it is hard to say what excellence he 
might not have reached in the field of narrative verse. The defect 
of his fragment, the intrusion of ingenious reflections and of those 
conceits with one of which our selection unhappily terminates, was 
the fault of his time ; its merit is Marlowe's own. It was suggested 
indeed by the short poem of the Pseudo-Musaeus, an Alexandrian 
grammarian who probably wrote about the end of the fifth century 
after Christ, and appears to have been translated into English 
shortly before 1 589 ; but it is in essence original. Written in the 



4l6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

so-called heroic verse, it bears no resemblance to any other poem 
in that metre composed before, nor, perhaps, is there any written 
since which decidedly recalls it, unless it be Endy^nion. ' Pagan ' 
it is in a sense, with the Paganism of the Renascence : the 
more pagan the better, considering the subject. Nothing of 
the deeper thought of the time, no ' looking before and after,' 
no worship of a Gloriana or hostility to an Acrasia, interferes 
with its frank acceptance of sensuous beauty and joy. In this, in 
spite of much resemblance, it differs from Etidyinion, the spirit 
of which is not fruition but unsatisfied longing, and in which the 
vision of a vague and lovelier ideal is always turning the enjoyment 
of the moment into gloom. On the other hand, a further likeness 
to Keats may perhaps be traced in the pictorial quality of Mar- 
lowe's descriptions. His power does not lie in catching in the 
aspect of objects or scenes those deeper suggestions which appeal 
to an imagination stored with human experience as well as sensitive 
to colour and form ; for this power does not necessarily result in 
what we call pictorial writing ; but his soul seems to be in his 
eyes, and he renders the beauty which appeals directly to sense 
as vividly as he apprehends it. Nor is this the case with the 
description of objects alone. The same complete absorption of 
imagination in sense appears in Marlowe's account of the visit to 
Hero's tower. This passage is in a high degree voluptuous, but 
it is not prurient. For prurience is the sign of an unsatisfied 
imagination, which, being unable to present its object adequately, 
appeals to extraneous and unpoetic feelings. But Marlowe's 
imagination is completely satisfied ; and therefore, though he has 
not a high theme (for it is a mere sensuous joy that is described, 
and there is next to no real emotion in the matter), he is able to 
make fine poetry of it. Of the metrical qualities of the poem 
there can be but one opinion. Shakespeare himself, who quoted 
a line of it', never reached in his own narrative verse a music so 
spontaneous and rich, a music to which Marlowe might have 
applied his own words — 

' That calls my soul from forth hjs living scat 
To move unto the measures of delifjht.' 



Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might : 
" Who ever loved that loved not at first siyht ? " ' 

As You Like It, iii. 5. 



MARLOWE. 417 



Marlowe had many of the makings of a great poet : a capacity 
for Titanic conceptions which might with time have become 
Olympian ; an imaginative vision which was already intense and 
must have deepened and widened ; the gift of style and of making 
words sing ; and a time to live in such as no other generation of 
English poets has known. It is easy to reckon his failings. His 
range of perception into life and character was contracted : of 
comic power he shows hardly a trace, and it is incredible that 
he should have written the Jack Cade scene of Henry VI; no 
humour or tenderness relieves his pathos ; there is not any female 
character in his plays whom we remember with much interest ; 
and it is not clear that he could have produced songs of the first 
order. But it is only Shakespeare who can do everything ; and 
Shakespeare did not die at twenty-nine. That Marlowe must 
have stood nearer to him than any other dramatic poet of that 
time, or perhaps of any later time, is probably the verdict of 
nearly all students of the drama. His immediate successors knew 
well what was lost in him ; and from the days of Peele, Jonson, 
Drayton, and Chapman, to our own, the poets have done more 
than common honour to his memorj'. 

A. C, Bradley. 



VOL L E e 



4i8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Passionate Shepherd to his Love. 

Come live with me, and be my love ; 
And we will all the pleasures prove 
That hills and valleys, dales and fields, 
Woods or steepy mountain yields. 

And we will sit upon the rocks, 
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks 
By shallow rivers, to whose falls 
Melodious birds sing madrigals. 

And I will make thee beds of roses, 
And a thousand fragrant posies ; 
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle 
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle ; 

A gown made of the finest wool 
Which from our pretty lambs we pull ; 
Fair-linfed slippers for the cold, 
With buckles of the purest gold ; 

A belt of straw and ivy-buds, 
With coral clasps and amber studs : 
An if these pleasures may thee move, 
Come live with me, and be my love. 

The shepherd-swains shall dance and sing 
For thy delight each May morning : 
If these delights thy mind may move, 
Then live with me, and be my love. 

Fragment. 

[From England's Parnasiiis, 1600.] 

I walk'd along a stream, for pureness rare. 
Brighter than sun-shine ; for it did acquaint 

The dullest sight with all the glorious prey 
That in the pcbblc-pavc'd channel lay. 



MARLOWE. 419 



No molten crystal, but a richer mine, 

Even Nature's rarest alchymy ran there, — 

Diamonds resolv'd, and substance more divine. 
Through whose bright-gliding current might appear 

A thousand naked nymphs, whose ivory shine. 
Enamelling the banks, made them more clear 

Than ever was that glorious palace gate 

Where the day-shining Sun in triumph sate. 

Upon this brim the eglantine and rose. 
The tamarisk, olive, and the almond tree, 

As kind companions, in one union grows. 
Folding their twining arms, as oft we see 

Turtle-taught lovers either other close, 
Lending to dulness feeling sympathy ; 

And as a costly valance o'er a bed. 

So did their garland-tops the brook o'erspread. 

Their leaves, that differ'd both i.i shape and show, 
Though all were green, yet difference such in green, 

Like to the checker'd bent of Iris' bow. 
Prided the running main, as it had been — 



From the First Sestiad of ' Hero and Leander.' 

On Hellespont, guilty of true love's blood, 
In view and opposite two cities stood. 
Sea-borderers, disjoin'd by Neptune's might ; 
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight. 
At Sestos Hero dwelt ; Hero the fair. 
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair, 
And offer'd as a dower his burning throne, 
Where she should sit, for men to gaze upon. 
The outside of her garments were of lawn, 
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn ; 
Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove. 
Where Venus in her naked glory strove 
E e 2 



420 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

To please the careless and disdainful eyes 

Of proud Adonis, that before her lies ; 

Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain, 

Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain. 

Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath, 

From whence her veil reach'd to the ground beneath 

Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves, 

Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives : 

Many would praise the sweet smell as she past. 

When 'twas the odour which her breath forth cast ; 

And there for honey bees have sought in vain, 

And, beat from thence, have lighted there again. 

About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone, 

Which, lighten'd by her neck, like diamonds shone. 

She ware no gloves ; for neither sun nor wind 

Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind, 

Or warm or cool them, for they took delight 

To play upon those hands, they were so white. 

Buskins of shells, all silver'd, used she, 

And branch'd with blushing coral to the knee ; 

Where sparrows perch'd, of hollow pearl and gold, 

Such as the world would wonder to behold : 

Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills. 

Which as she went, would cherup through their bills. 

Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin'd, 

And, looking in her face, was strooken blind. 

But this is true ; so like was one the other, 

As he imagined Hero was his mother ; 

And oftentimes into her bosom flew. 

About her naked neck his bare arms threw. 

And laid his childish head upon her breast, 

And, with still panting rockt, there took his rest. 

****** 
On this feast-day, — O cursed day and hour ! — 
Went Hero thorough Scstos, from her tower 
To Venus' temple, where unhappily. 
As after chanc'd, they did each other spy. 
So fair a church as this had Venus none : 
The walls were of discolour'd jasper-stone, 



MARLOWE. 421 



Wherein was Proteus carved ; and over-head 
A lively vine of green sea-agate spread, 
Where by one hand light-headed Bacchus hung, 
And with the other wine from grapes out-wrung. 
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was ; 
The town of Sestos call'd it Venus' glass : 
* * ■* * * * 

For know, that underneath this radiant flour 
Was Danae's statue in a brazen tower ; 
Jove slyly stealing from his sister's bed, 
To dally with Idalian Ganymed, 
And for his love Europa bellowing loud, 
And tumbhng with the Rainbow in a cloud ; 
Blood-quaffing Mars heaving the iron net 
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set ; 
Love kindling fire, to burn such towns as Troy; 
Silvanus weeping for the lovely boy 
That now is turn'd into a cypress-tree, 
Under whose shade the wood-gods love to be. 
And in the midst a silver altar stood : 
There Hero, sacrificing turtle's blood, 
Vail'd to the ground, veiling her eyelids close ; 
And modestly they open'd as she rose : 
Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head ; 
And thus Leander was enamoured. 
Stone-still he stood, and evermore he gaz'd. 
Till with the fire, that from his countenance blaz'd, 
Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook : 
Such force and virtue hath an amorous look. 

It lies not in our power to love or hate, 
For will in us is over-rul'd by fate. 
When two are stript long e'er the course begin, 
We wish that one should lose, the other win ; 
And one especially do we affect 
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect : 
The reason no man knows ; let it suffice, 
What we behold is censur'd by our eyes. 
Where both deliberate, the love is slight : 
Who ever lov'd, that lov'd not at first sight ? 



42 2 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

He kneel'd ; but unto her devoutly pray'd : 
Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said, 
' Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him ' ; 
And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him. 
He started up ; she blush'd as one asham'd ; 
Wherewith Leander much more was inflam'd. 
He touch'd her hand ; in touching it she trembled : 
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled. 
These lovers parled by the touch of hands : 
True love is mute, and oft amazed stands. 
Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled, 
The air with sparks of living fire was spangled ; 
And night, deep-drench'd in misty Acheron, 
Heav'd up her head, and half the world upon 
Breath'd darkness forth (dark night is Cupid's day) : 
And now begins Leander to display 
Love's holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears ; 
Which, like sweet music, enter'd Hero's ears ; 
And yet at every word she turn'd aside, 
And always cut him off, as he replied. 

******* 
These arguments he us'd, and many more ; 
Wherewith she yielded, that was won before. 
Hero's looks yielded, but her words made war : 
Women are won when they begin to jar. 
Thus having swallow'd Cupid's golden hook, 
The more she striv'd, the deeper was she strook : 
Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still, 
And would be thought to grant against her will. 
So having paus'd awhile, at last she said, 
' Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid ? 
Ay me ! such words as these should I abhor, 
And yet I like them for the orator.' 
With that Leander stoop'd to have embrac'd her, 
But from his spreading arms away she cast her, 
And thus bcspake him : ' Gentle youth, forbear 
To touch the sacred garments which I wear. 
Upon a rock, and underneath a hill, 
Far from the town, (where all is whist and still, 



MARLOWE. 42- 



Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand, 

Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land, 

Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus 

In silence of the night to visit us,) 

My turret stands ; and there, God knows, I play 

With Venus' swans and sparrows all the day. 

A dwarfish beldam bears me company, 

That hops about the chamber where I lie. 

And spends the night, that might be better spent, 

In vain discourse and apish merriment : — 

Come thither.' As she spake this, her tongue tripp'd, 

For unawares, ' Come thither,' from her slipp'd ; 

And suddenly her former colour chang'd. 

And here and there her eyes through anger rang'd ; 

And, like a planet moving several ways 

At one self instant, she, poor soul, assays, 

Loving, not to love at all, and every part 

Strove to resist the motions of her heart : 

And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such 

As might have made Heaven stoop to have a touch, 

Did she uphold to Venus, and again 

Vow'd spotless chastity ; but all in vain ; 

Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings ; 

Her vows about the empty air he flings : 

All deep enrag'd, his sinewy bow he bent, 

And shot a shaft that burning from him went ; 

Wherewith she strooken, look'd so dolefully. 

As made love sigh to see his tyranny; 

And, as she wept, her tears to pearl he turn'd, 

And wound them on his arm, and for her mourn'd. 



THOMAS LODGE. 



[Thomas Lodge was bom in Lincolnshire about 1556, entered Trinity 
College, Oxford, in 1573, and died of the plague at Low Ley ton, in Essex, 
in 1625. The most important of his numerous works are, Scilla's Meta- 
morphosis, 1589; Rosalynde Eiiphues' Golden Legacy, 1 590; PhilUs, 1 593; 
•^ P'gfo^ Momiis, 1595 ; A Margarite of America, 1596.] 

Lodge was the least boisterous of the noisy group of learned 
wits who, with Greene and Marlowe at their head, invaded London 
from the universities during the close of Elizabeth's reign. He 
began to write as early as 1580, and was among the first who 
adopted the style invented by Lyly in his Eiiphues ; but it was 
not until Greene had successfully composed several romances 
in this manner that Lodge came forward and surpassed both 
Greene and Lyly in his lovely fantastic pastoral of Rosalynde, 
composed under a tropical sky, as the author sailed with Captain 
Clarke between the Canaries and the Azores. During the next 
ten years Lodge was very prolific, closing this part of his career 
with the Margarite of Atnerica, an Arcadian romance, so named 
because the poet was in Patagonia when he wrote it. By this 
time, or soon after, all the young men of genius with whom he 
had associated were dead, and Lodge retired from literary life, 
and settled down as a physician. He lived on almost to the birth 
of Dryden ; but his place as a poet is among the immediate 
followers of Spenser and precursors of Shakespeare. 

In some respects Lodge is superior to most of the lyrical poets 
of his time. He is certainly the best of the Euphuists, and no 
one rivalled him in the creation of a dreamy scene, 'out of space, 
out of time,' where the loves and jousts of an ideal chivalry could 
be pleasantly tempered by the tending of sheep. His romances, 
with their frequent interludes of fine verse, are delightful reading, 
although the action flags, and there is simply no attempt at 
characterisation. A very courtly and knightly spirit of morality 



LODGE. 425 

perfumes the stately sentences, laden with learned allusion and 
flowing imagery ; the lovers are devoted beyond belief, the knights 
are braver, the shepherds wiser, the nymphs more lovely and 
more flinty-hearted than tongue can tell ; the courteous amorous 
couples file down the long arcades of the enchanted forest, and 
find the madrigal that Rosader or the hapless Arsinous has fas- 
tened to the balsam-tree, or else they gather round the alabaster 
tomb of one who died for love, and read the sonnet that his own 
hand has engraved there. This languid elegant literature was of 
great service in refining both the language and the manners of 
the people. There was something false no doubt in the excessive 
delicacy of the sentiment, something trivial in the balanced rhythm 
and polish of the style ; but both were excessively pretty, and 
both made possible the pastoral and lyrical tenderness of the 
next half-century. Among all the Elizabethans, no one borrowed 
his inspiration more directly from the Italians than Lodge ; he 
was fortunately unaware of the existence of Marini, but the in- 
fluence of Sannazaro and of the school of Tasso is strongly marked 
in his writings. 

As a satirist Lodge is weak and tame ; as a dramatist he is 
wholly without skill ; as a writer of romances we have seen that 
he is charming, but thoroughly artificial. It is by his lyrical 
poetry that he preserves a living place in literature. His best 
odes and madrigals rank with the finest work of that rich age. 
In short pieces of an erotic or contemplative character he throws 
aside all his habitual languor, and surprises the reader, who has 
been toiling somewhat wearily through the forest of Arden, by the 
brilliance and rapidity of his verse, by the ela7i of his passion, and 
by the bright turn of his fancy. In his best songs Lodge shows 
a command over the more sumptuous and splendid parts of 
language, that reminds the reader of Marlowe's gift in tragedy ; 
and of all the Ehzabethans Lodge is the one who most frequently 
recalls Shelley to mind. His passion in the Rosalynde has a little 
of the transcendental and ethereal character of the Epipsychidion, 
while now and again there are phrases so curiously like Shelley's 
own, that we are tempted to believe that the rare quartos of 
Lodge must have passed through the later poet's hands. One 
such example is the 

«A Turtle sate upon a leafless tree, 
Mourning her absent fere,' 



426 ' THE ENGLISH POETS. 

with its curious resemblance to 

' A widow bird sate mourning for her love 
Upon a wintry bough.' 

The sonnets of Lodge are gorgeous in language, but lax in 
construction ; he did not understand the art of concentrating and 
sustaining his fancy in a sonnet ; but the volume entitled Phillis 
contains many beautiful fragments and irregular pieces, tending 
more or less to the sonnet form. His epics oi S cilia's Metamor- 
phosis and Elstred are rambling pieces in the six-line stanza, pro- 
duced rather in consequence of the success of Vettzts and Adonis 
than out of any genuine desire to tell a classical story. In each 
poem the action is neglected, and the tale, such as it is, is 
smothered under a shower of courtly, flowery fancies. A poem 
' in commendation of a solitary life,' is one of Lodge's most ad- 
mirable pieces, but is too long to be given here, and does not lend 
itself to quotation. He was a poet of fine genius, fervent, har- 
monious, and florid ; but he was too sympathetic or not strong 
enough to resist the current of contemporary taste, running swiftly 
towards conceit. 

Edmund W. Gosse. 



LODGE, 427 



RosALYND's Madrigal. 



Love in my bosom, like a bee, 

Doth suck his sweet ; 
Now with his wings he plays with me, 
Now with his feet. 
Within mine eyes he makes his nest, 
His bed amidst my tender breast ; 
My kisses are his daily feast, 
And yet he robs me of my rest : 

Ah ! wanton, will ye ? 

And if I sleep, then percheth he 

With pretty flight. 
And makes his pillow of my knee 

The livelong night. 
Strike I my lute, he tunes the string ; 
He music plays if so I sing ; 
He lends me every lovely thing. 
Yet cruel he my heart doth sting : 
Whist, wanton, will ye ? 

Else I with roses every day 

Will whip you hence, 
And bind you, when you long to play, 
For your offence ; 
I '11 shut my eyes to keep you in ; 
I '11 make you fast it for your sin ; 
I '11 count your power not worth a pin 
Alas ! what hereby shall I win, 
If he gainsay me ? 

What if I beat the wanton boy 

With many a rod ? 
He will repay me with annoy. 

Because a god. 
Then sit thou safely on my knee, 
And let thy bower my bosom be ; 
Lurk in mine eyes, I like of thee, 
O Cupid ! so thou pity me. 

Spare not, but play thee. 



428 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Rosader's description of Rosalynd. 

Like to the clear in highest sphere, 

Where all imperial beauty shines, 
Of selfsame colour is her hair, 

Whether unfolded or in twines ; 
Her eyes are sapphires set in snow, 

Refining heaven by every wink ; 
The gods do fear whenas they glow, 

And I do tremble when I think. 

Her cheeks are like the blushing cloud 

That beautifies Aurora's face. 
Or like the silver-crimson shroud 

That Phoebus' smiling looks doth grace ; 
Her lips are like two budded roses, 

Whom ranks of lilies neighbour nigh, 
Within whose bounds she balm encloses 

Apt to entice a deity. 

Her neck like to a stately tower, 

Where Love himself emprisoned lies. 
To watch lor glances every hour. 

From her divine and sacred eyes ; 
Her paps are centres of delight. 

Her paps are orbs of heavenly frame, 
Where nature moulds the dew of light. 

To feed perfection with the same. 

With orient pearl, with ruby red, 

With marble white, with sapphire blue. 
Her body every way is fed. 

Yet soft to touch, and sweet in view ; 
Nature herself her shape admires, 

The gods are wounded in her sight, 
And Love forsakes his heavenly fires. 

And at her eyes his brand doth light. 



LODGE. 429 

Then muse not, Nymphs, though I bemoan 

The absence of fair Rosalynd ; 
Since for her fair there's fairer none, 
Nor for her virtues so divine. 

Heigh ho ! fair Rosalynd ! 
Heigh ho ! my heart, would God that she were mine ! 



The Harmony of Love. 

A very phoenix, in her radiant eyes 

I leave mine age, and get my life again ; 
True Hesperus, I watch her fall and rise, 

And with my tears extinguish all my pain ; 
My lips for shadows shield her springing roses, 

Mine eyes for watchmen guard her while she sleepeth, 
My reasons serve to 'quite her faint supposes ; 

Her fancy, mine ; my faith her fancy keepeth ; 
She flower, I branch ; her sweet my sour supporteth, 
O happy Love, where such delights consorteth ! 



Phillis' Sickness. 

How languisheth the primrose of Love's garden ! 

How trill her tears the elixir of my senses ! 
Ambitious sickness, what doth thee so harden ? 

spare, and plague thou me for her offences ! 
Ah ! roses ! love's fair roses ! do not languish ! 

Blush through the milk-white veil that holds you covered ; 
If heat or cold may mitigate your anguish, 

1 '11 burn, I '11 freeze, but you shall be recovered. 
Good God ! would Beauty mark, now she is crazed, 

How but one shower of sickness makes her tender, 
Her judgments, then, to mark my woes amazed, 

To mercy should opinion's fort surrender ; 
And I, oh ! would I might, or would she meant it ! 
Should harry love, who now in heart lament it. 



43© THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Love's Wantonness. 

Love guides the roses of thy lips, 
And flies about them like a bee ; 

If I approach he forward skips, 
And if I kiss he stingeth me. 

Love in thine eyes doth build his bower, 
And sleeps within their pretty shine, 

And if I look the boy will lower, 
And from their orbs shoot shafts divine. 

Love works thy heart within his fire, 
And in my tears doth firm the same. 

And if I tempt it will retire, 

And of my plaints doth make a game. 

Love, let me cull her choicest flowers, 
And pity me, and calm her eye, 

Make soft her heart, dissolve her lowers, 
Then I will praise thy deity. 



WILLIAM WARNER. 



[William Warner was bom in Oxfordshire about the middle of the 
sixteenth century, and died on the 9th of March, 1609, at Amwell. His 
chief work is Albion's England, 1586. It was at first prohibited, for reasons 
unknown, but afterwards became very popular. He perhaps translated the 
Menaechmi of Plautus 1595 ; and certainly wrote a prose collection of 
moralized stories, entitled Syrinx, 1597.] 

Warner's chief and only poetical work is Albioti's England, 
a curious medley of partly traditional history', with interludes of 
the fabliau kind. By some accident it has, since the author's 
death, secured an audience, not indeed wide, but much wider 
than that enjoyed by the work of contemporaries of far greater 
power. The pastoral episode of Argentile atid Ctiran hit the 
taste of the eighteenth century, and Chalmers reprinted the whole 
poem in his Poets, very injudiciously following Ellis in dividing 
the fourteen-syllable lines into eights and sixes. In this form 
much of it irresistibly reminds the reader of Johnson's injurious 
parody of that metre : but in the original editions it appears 
to much greater advantage. The ascending and descending 
slope of the long lines is often managed with a good deal of art ; 
and as the following extract, giving the speeches of Harold and 
William before Hastings, will show, there is sometimes dignity 
in the sentiments and vigour in their expression. The author is 
too prone to adopt classical constructions, especially absolute 
cases, which often throw obscurity over his meaning. Warner is 
not, as he has been called, a ' good, honest, plain writer of moral 
rules and precepts'; nor is his work, as another authority asserts, 
* written in Alexandrines.' But though he will not bear comparison 
with the better, even of the second-rate Elizabethans, such as 
Watson, Barnes, and Constable, much less with his fellow historians 
Drayton and Daniel, the singularity of the plan of his book, and 
some vigorous touches here and there, raise him above the mass. 



432 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

There is, moreover, one thing in his work which is of considerable 
literary interest. UnHke almost all his contemporaries, he is 
hardly at all ' Italianate.' The Italian influence, which for a full 
century coloured English poetry, is scarcely discernible in him, 
and he is thus an interesting example of an English poet with 
hardly any foreign strain in him except, as has been said, a certain 
tinge of classical study. 

G. Saintsbury. 



WARNER. 433 



Before the Battle of Hastings. 

[From Albion's England, Bk. iv. Cap. 22.] 

'See, valiant war-friends yonder be the first, the last, and all 
The agents of our enemies : they henceforth cannot call 
Supplies : for weeds at Normandy by this in porches grow : 
Then conquer these would conquer you, and dread no further foe. 
They are no stouter than the Brutes, whom we did hence exile : 
Nor stronger than the sturdy Danes, our victory erewhile : 
Nor Saxony could once contain, or scarce the world beside. 
Our fathers who did sway by sword where listed them to bide. 
Then do not ye degenerate, take courage by descent. 
And by their burials, not abode, their force and flight prevent. 
Ye have in hand your country's cause, a conquest they pretend, 
Which (were ye not the same ye be) even cowards would defend. 
I grant that part of us are fied, and linked to the foe, 
And glad I am our army is of traitors cleared so. 
Yea, pardon hath he to depart that stayeth malcontent : 
I prize the mind above the man, like zeal hath like event. 
Yet troth it is no well or ill this island ever had. 
But through the well or ill support of subjects good or bad. 
Not Caesar, Hengest, Swayn, or now (which ne'ertheless shall fail) 
The Norman bastard (Albion true) did, could, or can prevail. 
But to be self-false in this isle a self-foe ever is. 
Yet wot I, never traitor did his treason's stipend miss. 
Shrink who will shrink, let armour's weight press down the bur- 
dened e^.rth. 
My foes with wondering eyes shall see I over-prize my death. 
But since ye all (for all, I hope, alike affected be, 
Your wives, your children, lives and land, from servitude to free) 
Are armed both in show and zeal, then gloriously contend 
To win and wear the home-brought spoils of victory the end. 
Let not the skinner's daughter's son possess what he pretends, 
He lives to die a noble death that life for freedom spends.' 
As Harold heartened thus his men, so did the Norman his ; 
And looking wishly on the earth Duke William spcakcth this : 
VOL. I. F f 



434 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

'To live upon, or lie within, this is my ground or grave, 
My loving soldiers, one of twain your duke resolves to have : 
Nor be ye, Normans, now to seek in what you should be stout. 
Ye come amidst the English pikes to hew your honours out. 
Ye come to win the same by lance, that is your own by law ; 
Ye come, I say, in righteous war revenging swords to draw. 
Howbeit, of more hardy foes no passed fight hath sped ye. 
Since RoUo to your now-abode with bands victorious led ye, 
Or Turchus, son of Troylus, in Scythian Fazo bred ye. 
Then worthy your progenitors ye seed of Priam's son, 
Exploit this business : Rollons, do that which ye wish be done. 
Three people have as many times got and foregone this shore. 
It resteth now ye conquer it not to be conquered more : 
For Norman and the Saxon blood conjoining, as it may, 
From that consorted seed the crown shall never pass away. 
Before us are our armed foes, behind us are the seas. 
On either side the foe hath holds of succour and for ease ; 
But that advantage shall return their disadvantage thus, 
If ye observe no shore is left the which may shelter us. 
And so hold out amidst the rough, whil'st they hale in for lee. 
Whereas, whilst men securely sail not seldom shipwrecks be. 
What should I cite your passed acts, or tediously incense 
To present arms ? your faces show your hearts conceive offence. 
Yea, even your courages divine a conquest not to fail ; 
Hope, then, your duke doth prophesy, and in that hope prevail. 
A people brave, a terrene Heaven, both objects worth your wars 
Shall be the prizes of your prow's, and mount your fame to stars. 
Let not a traitor's perjur'd son extrude us from our right. 
He dies to live a famous life, that doth for conquest fight.' 



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. 



[William Shakespeare was bom at Stratford on Avon in April 1564; 
there also he died, April 23rd (old style), 1616. The following are the 
titles of his poems, with the dates of publication : Veiius and Adonis, 1593 ; 
The Rape of Lucrece, 1594; The Passionate Pilgrim (a miscellany which 
includes only a few pieces by Shakespeare), 1599; The Phcenix and the 
Turtle (printed with pieces on the same subject by other poets of the time, 
at the end of Robert Chester's Love's Martyr, or Rosalin's Complaint), t6oi ; 
Sonnets, 1609; A Lover's Complaint (in the same volume with the Sonnets), 
1609.] 

Shakespeare's genius was not one of those which ripen over- 
early. At thirty he was hardly past his years of apprenticeship as 
a dramatic craftsman ; in comedy he was experimenting in various 
directions ; in historical tragedy he submitted to the influence of 
his great fellow, Christopher Marlowe, who had risen to eminent 
stature while Shakespeare was still in his growing years ; in pure 
tragedy he was feeling after a way of his own which should ennoble 
terror by its union with tenderness and beauty. It was at this time 
that his first essay as a non-dramatic poet was made. At what 
precise date the Venus and Adonis was written we cannot be cer- 
tain ; but no good reason appears for supposing that Shakespeare 
brought it up with him from Stratford, or indeed that it was written 
earlier than the year 1592. 'The first heir of my invention' — so 
its author describes the poem ; but, in accordance with the 
feeling of his own day, he would naturally set aside his plays, 
none of which he had printed or thought of printing, as indeed 
mere plays — not works, not any part of literature proper, — while 
the Venus and Adonis, which was to give him rank among the 
poets of his time, he would regard as the first legitimate child 
of his imagination. Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton 
— young, clever, gallant, generous — had already honoured the rising 
dramatist with his notice, and to him Shakespeare dedicated ' his 
unpolished lines,' promising to take advantage of all idle hours 

F f 2 



436 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

until he have some ' graver labour ' to present. The graver labour 
followed in 1594, and was offered to his patron with words of strong 
devotion. The two poems, the Venus and the Liicrece, may be 
looked on as companion pieces, belonging to the same period, 
presented to the same person, exhibiting the same characteristics 
of style. 

Shakespeare's delight in beauty and his delight in wit, in the 
brightness and nimbleness of the play of mind, are manifest in all 
his earlier writings. Such delight was indeed part of the age as 
well as of the individual. The consciousness of new power proper 
to the Renaissance period, the bounding energy, the sense that all 
the human faculties were emancipated, resulted in great achieve- 
ment, and no less in strange extravagance ; the lust of the eye 
was under slight restraint, and every clever fancy might caper as 
it pleased. In choosing the subject of his first poem, Shakespeare 
sought the most beautiful creatures which imagination had ever 
conceived for pasture of man's eye. What female figure so superb 
in loveliness as that of the queen of Love 1 What mortal com- 
panion can she have comely to perfection save the boy Adonis ? 
But the common way of love, in which the man woos the woman, 
has been the theme of every poet ; how much more 'high fantas- 
tical' were the woman to woo the man, and spend all her wit, and 
all her ardour, and all her arts in striving to overcome his indif- 
ference ? Thus the subject of Venus enamoured, and the coldness 
of the boy Adonis, gave scope both to the poet's passion for 
beauty and his passion for ingenuity. Shakespeare attempts two 
things — first, to paint with brilliant words the chosen figures, and 
their encounterings ; secondly, to invent speeches for them in 
which the war of wit shall be maintained with glittering conceit, 
and high-wrought fantasy. The subject did not lay hold of him, 
compelling him to utterance ; rather he laboured hard to make 
the most of it, viewing it on this side and on that ; to use the word 
of his contemporaries, he ' subtilized ' with it, until he could sub- 
tilize no farther. A couple of ice-houses these two poems of 
Shakespeare have been called by Hazlitt — ' they are ' he says, ' as 
hard, as glittering, and as cold.' Cold indeed they will seem to 
anyone who listens to hear in them the natural cry of human 
passion. But the paradox is true, that for a young poet of Eliza- 
beth's age to be natural, direct, simple, would have been indeed 
unnatural. He was most happy when most fantastical ; he spun 
a shining web to catch conceits inevitably as a spider casts his 



SHAKESPEARE. 437 



thread ; the quick-building wit was itself warm while erecting its 
ice-houses. 

As a narrative poem the Litct-cce has this advantage over the 
Venus and Adonis, that it includes more of action, and that the 
theme is one which gives scope for deep and strenuous passion. 
For this reason the vice of style impresses us more here perhaps 
than in the earlier poem. The action is retarded by all manner of 
pretty ingenuities. Lucrece in her agony delivers tirades on Night, 
on Time, on Opportunity, as if they were theses for a degree in 
some academy of wit. Still the effect on a reader in the right mood 
is not that of frigid cleverness ; the faults are faults of youth ; the 
poet's pleasurable excitement can be perceived ; nay at times we 
feel the energetic fervour of his heart. Now and again the poetry 
surprises, not by singularity, but as Keats has said that poetry ought 
to surprise, by a fine excess ; sometimes a line is all gold seven times 
refined ; and there is throughout such evidence of a rich, abound- 
ing nature in the writer that we are happy with him even while we 
recognize the idle errors of his nonage. The first and most obvious 
excellence of the Vem^s and Adonis, Coleridge has said, and he 
might have extended the remark to the companion poem, ' is the 
perfect sweetness of the versification ; its adaptation to the subject ; 
and the power displayed in varying the march of the words without 
passing into a loftier and more majestic rhythm than was demanded 
by the thoughts, or permitted by the propriety of preserving a sense 
of melody predominant. The dehght in richness and sweetness of 
sound, even to a faulty excess, if it be evidently original, and not 
the result of an easily imitable mechanism, I regard as a highly 
favourable promise in the compositions of a young man.' A highly 
favourable promise indeed ; but Shakespeare, as other young poets 
of original genius, was peculiarly susceptible to influences from 
the verse of contemporaries. It is easy to perceive that the author 
of Venus and Adonis had read with delight Lodge's Glaiicus a?td 
Silla, and that in treating the more complex stanza of the Lticrece 
Shakespeare had gained something from The Complaint of Rosa- 
mond by Daniel, a poet possessing so much less than himself of 
the vital spirit of harmony. In both poems of Shakespeare his 
mind, it has been observed, hovers often within the Umits of a 
single line ; there are also long cumulative passages of connected 
lines, each line an unit in the series ; the effect of such passages 
is rhetorical ; they tend toward a climax, after which the verse has 
to recommence from a new starting point. 



438 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Amid the tangle of amorous casuistry in the Venus and Adonis 
some relief is afforded by touches of delight in the rural land- 
scape of England. When the poem was written Stratford was fresh 
in Shakespeare's memory ; its primrose banks, and ' blue-veined vio- 
lets,' the bird 'tangled in a net,' the stallion, the hunted hare, the 
the red morn rain-betokening, the gentle lark which weary of rest 

' From his moist cabinet mounts up on high, 
And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast 
The sun ariseth in his majesty.' 

Both poems immediately became popular ; it was his sweetness 
of utterance which gave Shakespeare's first readers their chief de- 
light ; he was to them 'honey-tongued Shakespeare,' 'melHfluous 
Shakespeare,' ' in whom the sweet wittie soul of Ovid lives' ; he was 
'silver-tongued Melicert,' gifted with a 'honey-flowing vaine.' The 
time had not yet come to know him as the symphonist who could 
create the stormy harmonies of Lear, as the bitter trumpeter of 
doom announcing through Timo7i the fall of luxurious cities that 
wanton in unrighteousness. 

In 1598 allusion was made by Francis Meres to Shakespeare's 
'sugred sonnets among his private friends'; next year two of the 
sugared sonnets — surreptitiously obtained, as we cannot but believe 
— appeared in The Passiojiate Pilgriin. It was not until ten years 
later that Thomas Thorpe published the collection of 154 Son- 
nets, and there is good reason for believing that their author did 
not sanction the publication. Thorpe dedicated his volume to 
'The onlie Begetter of these ensuing Sonnets Mr. W. H.' wishing 
him ' all happiness and that eternity promised by our ever-living 
poet.' Who is this Mr. W. H., the inspirer of the sonnets 1 And 
what is the purport of these poems 1 

To the first question there is but one trustworthy answer — We 
do not know. Whether Mr. W. H. was William Herbert, Earl of 
Pembroke, or Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, or whether 
his name has wholly perished, though in Shakespeare's verse his 
fame endures, we cannot tell. We know him as ' IVilQ for Shake- 
speare plays with his christian name in the 135th and 143rd sonnets, 
and with ' VViir we must remain contented. Patience perforce ! after 
all it is not essential to the understanding of the poems that we 
should solve Thorpe's riddle ; it is enough, if we believe that ' WilT' 
was no imaginary being, no abstraction of the brain, no allegorizing 
sonneteer's invention, but a creature of flesh and blood — a man, 



SHAKESPEARE. 



439 



young, beautiful, wealthy, of high rank, full of charm and grace and 
condescension. To him the sonnets from i to 126 were addressed; 
they were written at intervals over a period of time certainly as 
long as three years (see sonnet 104), and probably longer ; they 
are printed by Thorpe in their proper order, and form a series 
in which it is possible to find a few breaks, such as would 
naturally occur in poems connected with the real incidents of 
several years. The poem numbered 126, not a sonnet, consists of 
twelve lines in rhyming couplets ; it forms an Envoy to the series 
of sonnets addressed to Shakespeare's friend, and it is com- 
plete ; but Thorpe, not perceiving its special character, adds in 
the original edition marks intended to show that two lines are 
wanting. With 127 begins a new series, addressed to a woman. 
This woman Shakespeare loved with a kind of bitter love ; he knew 
that her character was stained ; he saw that she was the reverse of 
beautiful, according to common conceptions of beauty ; still, to him 
she was beautiful. This pale-faced, dark-eyed woman drew to her 
the great poet with a singular fascination ; he would linger by the 
virginal while she played, and watch her fingers as they moved 
over the keys ; he would resolve no longer to remain in bondage 
to her strange power, and would return to beg for her renewal of 
regard. But dearer than this pale musician was the youth whom 
he worshipped with a fond idolatry. Their friendship was to be the 
honour, the comfort, the blessedness of Shakespeare's life. Alas, 
his dark enchantress has cast her eyes upon Will, and laid her 
snares for him ! And so for the woman's sake the friendship of 
man and man is clouded, and the poor actor who had been lifted 
out of his sphere in a dream of new delight, sinks back and finds 
how hard the world goes with him, how sad a thing it is to be 
defrauded by those we hold most dear, how weak a thing his own 
heart is. He does not turn with fierce resentment against his 
friend ; he only feels that it is very sad to be deserted ; and with 
piteous casuistry' he tries to argue against himself, to plead in his 
friend's defence, to find it natural that one so bright and young and 
engaging should turn away the head and pass him coldly by. But 
such estrangement did not last to the end. After a long absence 
the friends meet. IVilPs truer heart asserts itself ; there are con- 
fessions and words of repentance on both sides ; then follow for- 
giveness and reconciliation ; once more heart and heart are united, 
— united now, after this bitter experience, never again to be tempted 
to disloyalty. 



440 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The story as here told in outline is plainly written in the two 
series of sonnets, which, though separate, are concerned with the 
same persons and refer to the same events. Let us look a little 
more closely at the first series. Shakespeare begins by urging upon 
his young friend the expediency of marriage ; his father is dead ; 
for his own sake, for his mother's sake, for his friend's sake, for 
the sake of the world, he should seek to renew his own life in 
that of a child who shall be heir to his beauty and his honour. 
His poet would fain make Will immortal in his verse, ay, and 
must not fail to do so, but why not defeat time by the worthier way 
of living offspring ? Then Shakespeare turns (sonnet 26) from this 
pleading to dwell upon the beauty and the sweetness of his friend ; 
all losses, needs, and griefs are cancelled by the joy of loving and 
being loved by a being so perfect. But presently the little rift 
within the lute is discovered ; Will holds somewhat off from the 
low-born player, especially in public places. Is not this natural, and 
indeed inevitable ? The player can at least look up and rejoice in 
his friend's happier fortune, his beauty, birth, wealth, wit. Then 
follows, during Shakespeare's absence, the more grievous wrong 
done to him by Will, and the lady of the virginal. Can Shake- 
speare forgive such a wrong 1 Even this he tries, but in vain ; for 
are there not signs that Will's heart is really cold towards him ? 
Will protests, and asserts his constancy ; there is a leap-up of the 
flame of love once more. But time is passing, age is creeping 
nearer, the world seems more oppressed by ills, and what is there 
of solid and substantial good to set against all this ? His friend's 
love ; but what if his friend be himself infected with the general 
evil ? What if he grow common ? Public scandal is busy with 
his name. Were it not better to die than to hve longer in a 
world where all tends daily from bad to worse ? Moreover now 
the young aristocrat is lending a favourable ear to a rival poet, one 
possessed of art and learning to which Shakespeare is a stranger. 
Ah ! it is best to say farewell at once, to wake rudely from the 
deceitful dream of joy ! Let Will hate him — but hate him quick, 
that the bitterness of death may soon be past. Absence, and total 
silence follow. And then, when things seem most remediless, the 
old fibres of love begin to stir, the buried root to send forth a rod 
with blossoms. The two hearts never wholly estranged approach, 
draw yet closer, unite ; all impediments to the marriage of true 
minds are put aside. The love that seemed ruined is built anew 
stronger than before. Now it is based not on beauty, not on con- 



SHAKESPEARE. 441 



siderations of interest, not on aught that time can destroy : now 
indeed Time is defeated ; not by offspring, not by verse, but by 
that which is alone free from time and fortune, by Love. Yet — 
thus the series closes — let us not be lifted up above measure ; 
however fair life and love may be, there is at last, for thee even as 
for me, the quietus of the grave. 

Of the exquisite songs scattered through Shakespeare's plays 
it is almost an impertinence to speak. If they do not make their 
own way, like the notes in the wildwood, no words will open the 
dull ear to take them in. There is little song in the historical 
dramas ; how should there be much amid the debates of the 
council-chamber, the clash of swords, the tug of rival interests, 
the plotting of courtiers, the ambitious hypocrisies of priests ? To 
hear dainty snatches set to some clear-hearted tune — ' Green 
Sleeves ' perhaps or ' Light o' love ' — we must haunt the palace 
of the enamoured Duke of Illyria, or wander under green boughs 
in Arden, or stray along the yellow sands of the enchanted 
island, or lurk behind the hedge while light-footed and light- 
fingered Autolycus sets the country air a-ringing with his sprightly 
tirra-lirra. In the tragedies Shakespeare has made use of song 
■ — his own or another's — always with deliberate forethought, always 
with the inevitable rightness of genius, to make the pity more 
rare and of a finer edge, to touch the skirts of darkness with a 
pathetic gleam, or to mingle some keen irony with the transi- 
tory triumph of life. We remember the wild and bitter gaiety, 
hiding so deep a sorrow, of Lear's poor boy quavering out weak 
notes across the tempest ; thought and affliction turned to pretti- 
ness in the distracted Ophelia's singing ; the rough ditty keeping 
time to strokes of the mattock as it tosses out the earth which 
is to lie on Ophelia's breast ; the high-pitched joviality of honest 
lago — 'And let me the canakin clink, clink' ; the volleying chorus, 
' Cup us till the world go round,' shouted in Pompey's galley, while 
Menes stands by ready to fall to the triumvirs' throats ; the old 
song of willow sung by maid Barbara when Desdemona was a 
girl, and coming back to her on that night when a sad wife she 
goes bedward with eyes ripe for weeping, and with a heart still 
meek and innocent as the heart of a little child. But to hear 
songs, which 'dally with the innocence of love like the old age,' 
one should be silent. 



Edward Dowden. 



442 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Poems. 

[From Venus and Adonh^ 

O, what a sight it was, wistly to view 
How she came steahng to the wayward boy! 
To note the fighting conflict of her hue, 
How white and red each other did destroy ! 
But now her cheek was pale, and by and by 
It flash'd forth fire, as hghtning from the sky. 

Now was she just before him as he sat, 

And Hke a lowly lover down she kneels ; 

With one fair hand she heaveth up his hat, 

Her other tender hand his fair cheek feels : 

His tenderer cheek receives her soft hand's print, 
As apt as new-fall'n snow takes any dint. 

O, what a war of looks was then between them ! 

Her eyes petitioners to his eyes suing ; 

His eyes saw her eyes as they had not seen them ; 

Her eyes woo'd still, his eyes disdain'd the wooing : 
And all this dumb play had his acts made plain 
With tears, which, chorus-like, her eyes did rain. 

Full ger.tly now she takes him by the hand, 

A lily prison'd in a gaol of snow, 

Or ivory in an alabaster band ; 

So white a friend engirts so white a foe : 

This beauteous combat, wilful and unwilling, 

Show'd like two silver doves that sit a-billing 
****** 
* Thou hadst been gone,' quoth she, ' sweet boy, ere this. 
But that thou told'st me thou wouldst hunt the boar. 
O, be advised ! thou know'st not what it is 
With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore. 

Whose tushes never sheathed he whetteth still, 

Like to a mortal butcher bent to kill. 



SHAKESPEARE. 443 



'On his bow-back he hath a battle set 

Of bristly pikes, that ever threat his foes ; 

His eyes, like glow-worms, shine when he doth fret ; 

His snout digs sepulchres where'er he goes ; 
Being moved, he strikes whate'er is in his way, 
And whom he strikes his crooked tushes slay. 

* His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm'd. 

Are better proof than thy spear's point can enter ; 

His short thick neck cannot be easily harm'd ; 

Being ireful, on the lion he will venture : 
The thorny brambles and embracing bushes, 
As fearful of him, part, through whom he rushes, 

'Alas, he nought esteems that face of thine. 
To which Love's eyes pay tributary gazes ; 
Nor thy soft hands, sweet lips and crystal eyne, 
Whose full perfection all the world amazes ; 

But having thee at vantage, — wondrous dread ! 

Would root these beauties as he roots the mead. 

' O, let him keep his loathsome cabin still ; 

Beauty hath nought to do with such foul fiends : 

Come not within his danger by thy will ; 

They that thrive well take counsel of their friends. 
When thou didst name the boar, not to dissemble, 
I fear'd thy fortune, and my joints did tremble.' 
****** 

' But if thou needs wilt hunt, be ruled by me ; 

Uncouple at the timorous flying hare. 

Or at the fox which lives by subtlety, 

Or at the roe which no encounter dare : 

Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs, 

And on thy well-breathed horse keep with thy hounds. 

'And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare, 
Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles 
How he outruns the wind and with what care 
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles : 

The many musets through the which he goes 

Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes. 



444 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

'Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep, 
To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell, 
And sometime where earth-delving conies keep, 
To stop the loud pursuers in their yell, 

And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer : 
Danger deviseth shifts ; wit waits on fear: 

' For there his smell with others being mingled, 
The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt, 
Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled 
With much ado the cold fault cleanly out ; 

Then do they spend their mouths : Echo replies, 
As if another chase were in the skies. 

* By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill, 
Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear, 
To hearken if his foes pursue him still : 
Anon their loud alarums he doth hear ; 
And now his grief may be compared well 
To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell. 

'Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch 
Turn, and return, indenting with the way; 
Each envious brier his weary legs doth scratch, 
Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay: 
For misery is trodden on by many. 
And being low never relieved by any.' 
****** 
With this, he breaketh from the sweet embrace, 
Of those fair arms which bound him to her breast, 
And homeward through the dark laund runs apace ; 
Leaves Love upon her back deeply distress'd. 
Look, how a bright star shooteth from the sky, 
So glides he in the night from Venus' eye ; 

Which after him she darts, as one on shore 
Gazing upon a late-embarked friend, 
Till the wild waves will have him seen no more, 
Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend : 
So did the merciless and pitchy night 
F"old in the object that did feed her sight. 



SHAKESPEARE. 445 



Whereat amazed, as one that unaware 
Hath dropp'd a precious jewel in the flood, 
Or stonish'd as night-wanderers often are. 
Their light blown out in some mistrustful wood, 
Even so confounded in, the dark she lay, 
Having lost the fair discovery of her way. 

And now she beats her heart, whereat it groans. 

That all the neighbour caves, as seeming troubled, 

Make verbal repetition of her moans ; 

Passion on passion deeply is redoubled : 

*Ay me!' she cries, and twenty times 'Woe, woe!' 
And twenty echoes twenty times cry so. 
* -K- * -it * * 

She looks upon his lips, and they are pale ; 

She takes him by the hand, and that is cold ; 

She whispers in his ears a hea\'y tale, 

As if they heard the woeful words she told ; 
She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes, 
Where, lo, two lamps, burnt out, in darkness lies ; 

Two glasses, where herself herself beheld, 

A thousand times, and now no more reflect ; 

Their virtue lost, wherein they late excell'd. 

And every beauty robb'd of his effect : 

' Wonder of time,' quoth she, ' this is my spite. 
That, thou being dead, the day should yet be light. 

■ ' Since thou art dead, lo, here I prophesy : 
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend : 
It shall be waited on with jealousy. 
Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end. 
Ne'er settled equally, but high or low. 
That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe. 

' It shall be fickle, false and full of fraud, 
Bud and be blasted in a breathing-while ; 
The bottom poison, and the top o'erstraw'd 
With sweets that shall the truest sight beguile : 
The strongest body shall it make most weak, 
Strike the wise dumb and teach the fool to speak. 



446 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' It shall be sparing and too full of riot, 
Teaching decrepit age to tread the measures ; 
The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet, 
Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures ; 
It shall be raging-mad and silly-mild, 
Make the young old, the old become a child. 

' It shall suspect where is no cause of fear ; 

It shall not fear where it should most mistrust, 

It shall be merciful and too severe. 

And most deceiving when it seems most just ; 
Perverse it shall be where it shows most toward, 
Put fear to valour, courage to the coward. 

* It shall be cause of war and dire events, 

And set dissension 'twixt the son and sire ; 

Subject and servile to all discontents. 

As dry combustions matter is to fire : 

Sith in his prime Death doth my love destroy, 
They that love best their loves shall not enjoy.' 

By this, the boy that by her side lay kill'd 
Was melted like a vapour from her sight. 
And in his blood that on the ground lay spill'd, 
A purple flower sprung up, chequer'd with white, 
Resembling well his pale cheeks and the blood 
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood. 



[From Lucrece^ 

By this, lamenting Philomel had ended 
The well-tuned warble of her nightly sorrow, 
And solemn night with slow sad gait descended 
To ugly hell ; when, lo, the blushing morrow 
Lends light to all fair eyes that light will borrow : 
But cloudly Lucrcce shames herself to see. 
And therefore still in night would cloister'd be. 



SHAKESPEARE. 447 



Revealing day through every cranny spies, 
And seems to point her out where she sits weeping ; 
To whom she sobbing speaks : ' O eye of eyes, 
Why pry'st thou through my window? leave thy peeping 
Mock with thy tickling beams eyes that are sleeping : 
Brand not my forehead with thy piercing light, 
For day hath nought to do what 's done by night.' 

Thus cavils she with every thing she sees : 
True grief is fond and testy as a child, 
Who wayward once, his mood with nought agrees : 
Old woes, not infant sorrows, bear them mild ; 
Continuance tames the one ; the other wild, 
Like an unpractised swimmer plunging still. 
With too much labour drowns for want of skill. 

So she, deep-drenched in a sea of care. 
Holds disputation with each thing she views, 
And to herself all sorrow doth compare ; 
No object but her passion's strength renews ; 
And as one shifts, another straight ensues : 

Sometime her grief is dumb and hath no words ; 

Sometime 'tis mad and too much talk affords. 

The little birds that tune their morning's joy 
Make her moans mad with their sweet melody : 
For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy ; 
Sad souls are slain in merry company ; 
Grief best is pleased with grief's society : 
True sorrow then is feelingly sufficed 
■When with like semblance it is sympathised. 

'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore ; 
He ten times pines that pines beholding food ; 
To see the salve doth make the wound ache more ; 
Great grief grieves most at that would do it good ; 
Deep woes roll forward like a gentle flood. 

Who, being stopp'd, the bounding banks o'erflows ; 

Grief dallied with nor law nor limit knows. 



448 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

' You mocking birds,' quoth she, ' your tunes entomb 
Within your hollow-swelling feather'd breasts, 
And in my hearing be you mute and dumb : 
My restless discord loves no stops nor rests ; 
A woeful hostess brooks not merry guests : 

Relish your nimble notes to pleasing ears ; 

Distress likes dumps when time is kept with tears. 

' Come, Philomel, that sing'st of ravishment, 
Make thy sad grove in my dishevell'd hair : 
As the dank earth weeps at thy languishment, 
So I at each sad strain will strain a tear. 
And with deep groans the diapason bear ; 
For burden-wise I '11 hum on Tarquin still, 
While thou on Tereus descant'st better skill.' 
******* 

This plot of death when sadly she had laid, 
And wiped the brinish pearl from her bright eyes, 
With untuned tongue she hoarsely calls her maid, 
Whose swift obedience to her mistress hies ; 
For fleet-wing'd duty with thought's feathers flies. 
Poor Lucrece' cheeks unto her maid seem so 
As winter meads when sun doth melt their snow. 

Her mistress she doth give demure good-morrow, 
With soft-slow tongue, true mark of modesty, 
And sorts a sad look to her lady's sorrow, 
For why her face wore sorrow's livery ; 
But durst not ask of her audaciously 

Why her two suns were cloud-eclipsed so. 
Nor why her fair cheeks over-wash'd with woe. 

But as the earth doth weep, the sun being set, 
Each flower moisten'd like a melting eye ; 
Even so the maid with swelling drops gan wet 
Her circled eyne, enforced by sympathy 
Of those fair suns set in her mistress' sky, 
Who in a salt-waved ocean quench their light. 
Which makes the maid weep like the dewy night. 



SHAKESPEARE. 449 



A pretty while these pretty creatures stand, 
Like ivory conduits coral cisterns filling ; 
One justly weeps ; the other takes in hand 
No cause, but company, of her drops spilling : 
Their gentle sex to weep are often willing ; 
Grieving themselves to guess at others' smarts. 
And then they drown their eyes or break their hearts. 

For men have marble, women waxen, minds, 
And therefore are they form'd as marble will ; 
The weak oppress'd, the impression of strange kinds 
Is form'd in them by force, by fraud, or skill : 
Then call them not the authors of their ill, 
No more than wax shall be accounted evil 
Wherein is stamp'd the semblance of a devil. 

Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain, 
Lays open all the little worms that creep ; 
In men, as in a rough-grown grove, remain 
Cave-keeping evils that obscurely sleep : 
Through crystal walls each little mote will peep : 
Though men can cover crimes with bold stem looks, 
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books. 

No man inveigh against the wither'd flower, 
But chide rough winter that the flower hath kill'd : 
Not that devour'd, but that which doth devour. 
Is worthy blame. O, let it not be hild 
Poor women's faults, that they are so fulfill'd 
"With men's abuses : those proud lords, to blame, 
Make weak-made women tenants to their shame. 



VOL. I. G g 



450 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Sonnets. 



When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, 
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field, 
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now, 
Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held : 
Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies. 
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days. 
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes, 
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise. 
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use, 
If thou couldst answer ' This fair child of mine 
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,' 
Proving his beauty by succession thine ! 
This were to be new made when thou art old. 
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold. 



When I do count the clock that tells the time. 
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night ; 
When I behold the violet past prime, 
And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white ; 
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves 
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd. 
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves 
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, 
Then of thy beauty do I question make, 
That thou among the wastes of time must go, 
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake 
And die as fast as they see others grow ; 

And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence 
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence. 



SHAKESPEARE. 4 5 1 



18. 



Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate : 
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, 
And summer's lease hath all too short a date : 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, 
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd ; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines, 
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd ; 
But thy eternal summer shall not fade 
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest ; 
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, 
When in eternal lines to time thou growest : 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, 
So long lives this and this gives life to thee. 



23. 

As an unperfect actor on the stage 
Who with his fear is put besides his part, 
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage, 
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart, 
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say 
The perfect ceremony of love's rite, 
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay, 
O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might. 
O, let my books be then the eloquence 
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast, 
Who plead for love and look for recompense 
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd. 
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ : 
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit. 



Gg2 



452 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 
I all alone beweep my outcast state 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope. 
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd, 
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least ; 
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate ; 
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 



When to the sessions of sweet silent thought 

I summon up remembrance of things past, 

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought. 

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste 

Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow. 

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night, 

And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe. 

And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight : 

Then can I grieve at grievances forgone. 

And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er 

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, 

Which I new pay as if not paid before. 

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, 
All losses are restored and sorrows end. 



SHAKESPEARE. 453 



32. 



If thou survive my well-contented day, 
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover, 
And Shalt by fortune once more re-survey 
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover. 
Compare them with the bettering of the time, 
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen. 
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme, 
Exceeded by the height of happier men. 
O, then vouchsafe me but this loving thought : 
'Had my friend's Muse grown with this growing age, 
A dearer birth than this his love had brought, 
To march in ranks of better equipage : 
But since he died and poets better prove. 
Theirs for their style I '11 read, his for his love.' 



33- 

Full many a glorious morning have I seen 
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye. 
Kissing with golden face the meadows green, 
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy ; 
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride 
With ugly rack on his celestial face. 
And from the forlorn world his visage hide, 
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace : 
Even so my sun one early morn did shine 
With all-triumphant splendour on my brow; 
But out, alack ! he was but one hour mine ; 
The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now. 

Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth ; 

Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staincth. 



454 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



52. 



So am I as the rich, whose blessed key 
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure, 
The which he will not every hour survey, 
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure. 
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare, 
Since, seldom coming, in the long year set, 
Like stones of worth they thinly placed are. 
Or captain jewels in the carcanet. 
So is the time that keeps you as my chest, 
Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide, 
To make some special instant special blest, 
By new unfolding his imprison'd pride. 

Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope, 
Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope. 



54. 

O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem 
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give ! 
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem 
For that sweet odour which doth in it live. 
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye 
As the perfumed tincture of the roses. 
Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly 
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses ; 
But, for their virtue only is their show, 
They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade, 
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so ; 
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made : 
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth, 
When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth. 



SHAKESPEARE. 455 



66. 



Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, 
As, to behold desert a beggar bom, 
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity, 
And purest faith unhappily forsworn, 
And gilded honour shamefully misplaced, 
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted. 
And right perfection \wongfully disgraced. 
And strength by limping sway disabled. 
And art made tongue-tied by authority, 
And folly doctor-like controlling skill, 
And simple truth miscall'd simplicity, 
And captive good attending captain ill : 

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone, 
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone. 



70. 

That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect, 
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair ; 
The ornament of beauty is suspect, 
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. 
So thou be good, slander doth but approve 
Thy worth the greater, being woo'd of time ; 
For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love. 
And thou present'st a pure unstained prime. 
Thou hast pass'd by the ambush of young days, 
Either not assail'd or victor being charged ; 
Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise. 
To tie up envy evermore enlarged : 

If some suspect of ill mask'd not thy show. 

Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe. 



456 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



72- 

That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day 
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie. 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire 
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. 
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong. 
To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 



90. 

Then hate me when thou wilt ; if ever, now ; 

Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, 

Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, 

And do not drop in for an after-loss : 

Ah, do not, when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow, 

Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe ; 

Give not a windy night a rainy morrow. 

To linger out a purposed overthrow. 

If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last. 

When other petty griefs have done their spite. 

But in the onset come ; so shall I taste 

At first the very worst of fortune's might, 

And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, 
Compared with loss of thee will not seem so. 



SHA KESPEA RE. 457 



97- 

How like a winter hath my absence been 
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year ! 
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen ! 
What old December's bareness ever>' where ! 
And yet this time removed was summer's time, 
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase, 
Bearing the wanton burden of the> prime, 
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease : 
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me 
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit ; 
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee, 
And, thou away, the very birds are mute ; 
Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer 
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near. 



From you have I been absent in the spring, 
When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim 
Hath put a spirit of youth in everj' thing, 
That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him. 
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell 
Of different flowers in odour and in hue 
Could make me any summer's story tell. 
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew ; 
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white, 
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose ; 
They were but sweet, but figures of delight. 
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those. 
Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away. 
As with your shadow I with these did play. 



458 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming ; 
I love not less, though less the show appear : 
That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming 
The owner's tongue doth publish every where. 
Our love was new and then but in the spring 
When I was wont to greet it with my lays, 
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing 
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days : 
Not that the summer is less pleasant now 
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night, 
But that wild music burthens every bough 
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight, 
Therefore like her I sometime hold my tongue, 
Because I would not dull you with my song. 



104. 



To me, fair friend, you never can be old. 

For as you were when first your eye I eyed, 

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold 

Have from the forests shook three summers' pride. 

Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd 

In process of the seasons have I seen. 

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd, 

Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green. 

Ah ! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand, 

Steal from his figure and no pace perceived ; 

So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand, 

Hath motion and mine eye may be deceived : 

For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred ; 

Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead. 



SHAKESPEARE. 459 



106. 



When in the chronicle of wasted time 
I see descriptions of the fairest wights, 
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme 
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights, 
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best, 
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow, 
I see their antique pen would have express'd 
Even such a beauty as you master now. 
So all their praises are but prophecies 
Of this our time, all you prefiguring ; 
And, for they look'd but with divining eyes, 
They had not skill enough your worth to sing : 
For we, which now behold these present days. 
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise. 



107. 

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul 
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come, 
Can yet the lease of my true love control, 
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom. 
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured 
And the sad augurs mock their own presage ; 
Incertainties now crown themselves assured 
And peace proclaims olives of endless age. 
Now with the drops of this most balmy time 
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes, 
Since, spite of him, I '11 live in this poor rhyme, 
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes : 
And thou in this shalt find thy monument. 
When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent. 



460 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



1 10. 



Alas, 'tis true I have gone here and there 

And made myself a motley to the view, 

Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear, 

Made old ofifences of affections new ; 

Most true it is that I have look'd on truth 

Askance and strangely: but, by all above, 

These blenches gave my heart another youth, 

And worse essays proved thee my best of love. 

Now all is done, have what shall have no end : 

Mine appetite I never more will grind 

On newer proof, to try an older friend, 

A god in love, to whom I am confined. 

Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, 
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast. 



O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide, 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, 
That did not better for my Hfe provide 
Than public means which public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, 
And almost thence my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand : 
Pity me then and wish I were renew'd ; 
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink 
Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection ; 
No bitterness that I will bitter think, 
Nor double penance, to correct correction. 
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye 
Even that your pity is enough to cure me. 



SHAKESPEARE. 4 6 1 



116. 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds 

Admit impediments. Love is not love 

Which alters when it alteration finds, 

Or bends with the remover to remove : 

O, no ! it is an ever-fixed mark 

That looks on tempests and is never shaken ; 

It is the star to every wandering bark, 

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 

Within his bending sickle's compass come ; 

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 

But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 

If this be error and upon me proved, 

I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 



119. 

What potions have I dnmk of Siren tears, 
Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within, 
Applying fears to hopes and hopes to fears, 
Still losing when I saw myself to win ! 
What wretched errors hath my heart committed, 
Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never ! 
How have mine ej'^es out of their spheres been fitted 
In the distraction of this madding fever 1 
O benefit of ill ! now I find true 
That better is by evil still made better ; 
And ruin'd love, when it is built anew. 
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater. 
So I return rebuked to my content 
And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent. 



462 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



SONGS. 
A Morning Song for Imogen. 

[From Cymheline?^ 

Hark, hark ! the lark at heaven's gate sings, 

And Phoebus 'gins arise, 
His steeds to water at those springs 

On chahced flowers that Hes ; 
And winking Mary-buds begin 

To ope their golden eyes : 
With every thing that pretty is, 

My lady sweet, arise : 
Arise, arise. 

Silvia. 

[From The Two Gentlemen of Verona."] 

Who is Silvia ? what is she, 
That all our swains commend her? 

Holy, fair and wise is she ; 

The heaven such grace did lend her, 

That she might admired be. 

Is she kind as she is fair.'' 
For beauty lives with kindness. 

Love doth to her eyes repair. 
To help him of his blindness, 

And, being help'd, inhabits there. 

Then to Silvia let us sing, 

That Silvia is excelling ; 
She excels each mortal thing 

Upon the dull earth dwelling : 
To her let us garlands bring. 



SHAKESPEARE. 463 



Sigh no more, Ladies. 

[From Much Ado about Nothing.'^ 

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, 

Men were deceivers ever, 
One foot in sea and one on shore, 

To one thing constant never : 
Then sigh not so, but let them go, 

And be you bhthe and bonny, 
Converting all your sounds of woe 

Into Hey nonny, nonny. 

Sing no more ditties, sing no moe, 

Of dumps so dull and heavy ; 
The fraud of men was ever so, 

Since summer first was leafy : 
Then sigh not so, but let them go, 

And be you blithe and bonny. 
Converting all your sounds of woe 

Into Hey nonny, nonny. 



A Lover's Lament. 

[From Twelfth Night.] 

Come away, come away, death, 

And in sad cypress let me be laid ; 
Fly away, fly away, breath ; 

I am slain by a fair cruel maid. 
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, 

O, prepare it ! 
My part of death, no one so true 
Did share it. 



464 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Not a flower, not a flower sweet, 

On my black coffin let there be strown ; 
Not a friend, not a friend greet 

My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown 
A thousand thousand sighs to save, 

Lay me, O, where 
Sad true lover never find my grave, 
To weep there 1 



Ariel's Song. 

[From The Tempest.'] 

Where the bee sucks, there suck I ; 

In a cowslip's bell I lie : 

There I couch when owls do cry. 

On the bat's back I do fly 

After summer merrily. 
Merrily, merrily, shall I live now 
Under the blossom that hancrs on the bough. 



A Sea Dirge. 

[From The Tempest.] 

Full fathom five thy father lies ; 

Of his bones are coral made ; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes : 

Nothing of him that doth fade 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange. 
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell : 

Ding-dong. 
Hark ! now 1 hear them, — Ding-dong, bell. 



SHAKESPEARE. 46; 



In the Greenwood. 

[From As You Like //.] 

Under the greenwood tree 
Who loves to lie with me, 
And turn his merry note 
Unto the sweet bird's throat, 
Come hither, come hither, come hither ; 
Here shall he see 
No enemy 
But winter and rough weather. 

Who doth ambition shun 
And loves to live i' the sun, 
Seeking the food he eats 
And pleased with what he gets, 
Come hither, come hither, come hither ; 
Here shall he see 
No enemy 
But winter and rough weather. 



Winter. 

[From Loves Labour 's Lo!ti\ 

When icicles hang by the wall 

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail 

And Tom bears logs into the hall 
And milk comes frozen home in pail, 

When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul, 

Then nightly sings the staring owl, 
Tu-whit ; 

Tu-who, a merry note. 

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. 

When all aloud the wind doth blow 

And coughing drowns the parson's saw 
And birds sit brooding in the snow 
And Marian's nose looks red and raw, 
VOL. I. H h 



466 TFIE ENGLISH POETS. 

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl, 
Then nightly sings the staring owl, 

Tu-whit ; 
Tu-who, a merry note, 
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. 



Song of Autolycus. 

[From The Winter's Tale.] 

When daffodils begin to peer, 

With heigh ! the doxy over the dale, 

Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year ; 
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale. 

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge. 

With heigh ! the sweet birds, O, how they sing ! 

Doth set my pugging tooth on edge ; 
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king. 

The lark, that tirra-lyra chants, 

With heigh ! with heigh ! the thrush and the jay. 
Are summer songs for me and my aunts, 

While we lie tumbling in the hay. 

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear ? 

The pale moon shines by night : 
And when I wander here and there, 

I then do most go right. 

If tinkers may have leave to live, 

And bear the sow-skin budget. 
Then my account I well may give. 

And in the stocks avouch it. 

Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way, 

And merrily hcnt the stile-a : 
A merry heart goes all the day, 

Your sad tires in a milc-a. 



SAMUEL DANIEL. 



[Sashjel Daniel was born near Taunton in 1562. He died at Backing- 
ton in the counly of his birth in 1619. His chief works were — The Com- 
plaint of Rosamond, 1594; Cleopatra, 1594; Epistles to Various Great Person- 
ages, 1601 ; T/!e Civil Wars, 1604; Philotas, 1611 ; Hymen s Triumph, 1623; 
A Defence of Rhyme, 1 6 1 1 .] 

There are few poets, not of the first class, to whose merits 
a stronger consensus of weighty opinion can be produced than that 
which attests the value of Samuel Daniel's work. His contem- 
poraries, while expressing some doubts as to his choice of subjects, 
speak of him as ' well-languaged,' ' sharp-conceited,' and as a master 
of pure English. The critics of the eighteenth century were sur- 
prised to find in him so little that they could deem obsolete or in 
bad taste. The more catholic censorship of Hazlitt, Lamb, and 
Coleridge was delighted with his extraordinary felicity of expres- 
sion, and the simple grace of his imagery and phrase. There can 
be no doubt however that his choice of historical subjects for his 
poetr}^ was unfortunate for his fame. The sentence of Joubert is 
not likely to be reversed : ' II faut que son sujet ofitre au g^nie du 
poete une espece de lieu fantastique qu'il puisse etendre et res- 
serrer Ji volonte. Un lieu trop rdel, une population trop historique 
emprisonnent I'esprit et en genent les mouvements.' This holds 
true of all the Elizabethan historians ; and it holds truer perhaps 
of Daniel than of Drayton. For the genius of the former had a 
tender and delicate quality about it which was least of all applic- 
able to such work, and seems to have lacked altogether the faculty 
of narrative. Daniel's one qualification for the task was his power 
of dignified moral reflection, in which, as the following extracts will 
show, he has hardly a superior. This however, though an ad- 
mirable adjunct to the other qualities required for the task, could 
by no means compensate for their absence ; and the result is that 
the History of ilic Civil Wars is with difficulty readable. The 
Complaint of Rosamond is better. 

H h 2 



468 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

It is however in the long poems only that the ' manner better 
suiting prose,' of which Daniel has been accused, appears. His 
minor work is in the main admirable, and displays incessantly the 
purity and felicity of language already noticed. His Sonnet to 
Sleep became a kind of model to younger writers, and imitations 
of it are to be found in the sonneteers of the time, sometimes 
with the opening epithet literally borrowed. The whole indeed 
of the Sonnets to Delta are excellent, and throughout Daniel's 
work single expressions and short passages of exquisite grace 
abound. The opening line, for instance, of the Address to Lady 
Anne Clifford, 

'Upon the tender youth of those fair eyes,* 

is perfect in its kind. So is the distich which begins one of the 
Sonnets : — 

'The star of my mishap imposed this pain, 
To spend the April of my years in grief;' 

and the invocation of Apollo : — 

' O clear-eyed rector of the holy hill.' 

It is in such things as these that the greater part of Daniel's 
charm consists, and they are scattered abundantly about his works. 
The rest of that charm lies in his combination of moral elevation 
with a certain picturesque peacefulness of spirit not often to be 
found in the perturbed race of bards. The Epistle to the Countess 
of CtDnberland is unmatched before Wordsworth in the expres- 
sion of this. 

His two tragedies and his Defence of Rhyme, though neither of 
them falling strictly within our limits, are too important in con- 
nection with English poetry to be left unnoticed. Cleopatra and 
Philotas are noteworthy among the rare attempts to follow the 
example of Jodelle and Gamier in English. They contain much 
harmonious verse, and the choruses are often admirable of their 
kind. The Defence of Rhyme, directed against the mania which 
for a time infected Spenser and Sidney, which Webbe endeavoured 
to render methodic, and of which traces are to be found in 
Milton, is thoroughly sound in principle and conclusion, though 
that conclusion is supported by arguments which arc as often 
bad as good. 

G. Saintsbury. 



DANIEL. 469 



Sonnet LI. To Delia. 

Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night, 
Brother to Death, in silent darkness born : 
Relieve my languish and restore the light ; 
With dark forgetting of my care, return. 
And let the day be time enough to mourn 
The shipwreck of my ill-adventured youth : 
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn 
Without the torment of the night's untruth. 
Cease dreams, the images of day desires. 
To model forth the passions of the morrow ; 
Never let rising sun approve you liars. 
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow. 
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain, 
And never wake to feel the day's disdain. 



The Death of Talbot. 

[From History of the Civil War, Bk. vi.] 

So much true resolution wrought in those 
Who had made covenant with death before, 
That their small number (scorning so great foes) 
Made France most happy, that there were no more, 
And Fortune doubt to whom she might dispose 
That weary day ; or unto whom restore 
The glory of a conquest dearly bought. 
Which scarce the conqueror could think well got. 

For as with equal rage, and equal might. 
Two adverse winds combat, with billows proud, 
And neither yield (seas, skies maintain like fight, 
Wave against wave oppos'd, and cloud to cloud) ; 
So war both sides with obstinate despite. 
With like revenge ; and neither party bow'd : 
Fronting each other with confounding blows, 
No wound one sword unto the other owes. 



470 THE ENGLISH FORTS. 

Whilst Talbot (whose fresh ardour having got 
A marvellous advantage of his years) 
Carries his unfelt age as if forgot, 
Whirling about where any need appears. 
His hand, his eye, his wits all present wrought 
The function of the glorious part he bears : 
Now urging here, now cheering there, he flies ; 
Unlocks the thickest troops where most force Hes. 

In midst of wrath, of wounds, of blood, and death 

There is he most, where as he may do best ; 

And there the closest ranks he severeth. 

Drives back the stoutest powers that forward press'd, 

There makes his sword his way. There laboureth 

The infatigable hand that never ceas'd ; 

Scorning unto his mortal wounds to yield, 

Till Death became best master of the field. 

Then like a sturdy oak, that having long 

Against the wars of fiercest winds made head. 

When (with some forc'd tempestuous rage more strong 

His down-borne top comes overmastered) 

All the near bord'ring trees he stood among 

Crushed with his weighty fall lie ruined : 

So lay his spoils, all round about him slain, 

T' adorn his death, that could not die in vain. 

On th' other part, his most all-daring son 

(Although the inexperience of his years 

Made him less skill'd in what was to be done ; 

And yet did carry him beyond all fears). 

Flying into the main battalion 

Near to the king, amidst the chiefest peers, 

With thousand wounds became at length oppress'd, 

As if he scorned to die but with the best. 

Who thus both having gained a glorious end, 
Soon ended that great day ; that set so red, 
As all the purple plains that wide extend 
A sad tempestuous season witnessed. 



DANIEL. 471 

So much ado had toiUng France to rend 
From us the right so long inherited ; 
And so hard went we from what we possessed, 
As with it went the blood we loved best. 

Which blood not lost, but fast laid up with heed 

In everlasting fame, is there held dear 

To seal the memory of this day's deed ; 

Th' eternal evidence of what we were : 

To which our fathers, we, and who succeed, 

Do owe a sigh, for that it touched us near; 

Nor must we sin so much as to neglect 

The holy thought of such a dear respect. 



To THE Lady Margaret, Countess of Cumberland. 

He that of such a height hath built his mind, 
And rear'd the dwelling of his thoughts so strong, 
As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame 
Of his resolved powers ; nor all the wind 
Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong 
His settled peace, or to disturb the same. 
What a fair seat hath he, from whence he may 
The boundless wastes and wilds of man survey ! 

And with how free an eye doth he look down 

Upon these lower regions of turmoil ! 

Where all the storms of passion mainly beat 

On flesh and blood ; where honour, power, renown 

Are only gay afflictions, golden toil ; 

Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet 

As frailty doth, and only great doth seem 

To httle minds, who do it so esteem. 

He looks upon the mightiest monarch's wars 
But only as en stately robberies ; 
Where evermore the fortune that prevails 
Must be the right : the ill-succeeding mars 
The fairest and the best-faced enterprise. 
Great pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails : 



472 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Justice, he sees, (as if seduced) still 

Conspires with power, whose cause must not be ill. 

He sees the face of right t' appear as manifold 
As are the passions of uncertain man ; 
Who puts it in all colours, all attires. 
To serve his ends and make his courses hold. 
He sees, that let deceit work what it can, 
Plot and contrive base ways to high desires. 
That the all-guiding Providence doth yet 
All disappoint, and mocks this smoke of wit. 

Nor is he mov'd with all the thunder cracks 

Of tyrants' threats, or with the surly brow 

Of Pow'r, that proudly sits on others' crimes, 

Charg'd with more crying sins than those he checks. 

The storms of sad confusion, that may grow 

Up in the present for the coming times, 

Appal not him, that hath no side at all 

But of himself, and knows the worst can fall. 

Although his heart (so near allied to earth) 
Cannot but pity the perplexed state 
Of troublous and distress'd mortality, 
That thus make way unto the ugly birth 
Of their own sorrows, and do still beget 
Affliction upon imbecility ; 

Yet seeing thus the course of things must run. 
He looks thereon not strange, but as foredone. 

And whilst distraught ambition compasses. 
And is encompass'd ; whilst as craft deceives. 
And is deceiv'd ; whilst man doth ransack man, 
And builds on blood, and rises by distress ; 
And th' inheritance of desolation leaves 
To great-expecting hopes : he looks thereon 
As from the shore of peace, with unwet eye, 
And bears no venture in impiety. 



DANIEL. 473 



From ' Hymen's Triumph.' 

Ah ! I remember well (and how can I 

But evermore remember well) when first 

Our flame began, when scarce we knew what was 

The flame we felt ; when as we sat and sighed 

And looked upon each other,- and conceived 

Not what we ail'd, — yet something we did ail ; 

And yet were well, and yet we were not well. 

And what was our disease we could not tell. 

Then would we kiss, then sigh, then look : and thus 

In that first garden of our simpleness 

We spent our childhood. But when years began 

To reap the fruit of knowledge, ah, how then 

Would she with graver looks, with sweet stern brow 

Check my presumption and my forwardness ; 

Yet still would give me flowers, still would me show 

What she would have me, yet not have me know. 



RICHARD BARNFIELD. 



[Born at the Manor House of Norbury, Staffordshire, 1574. Died at 
Dorleston, or Darlaston, in the same county, 1627. His chief poems are — 
The Affectionate Shepherd, 1594; Cynthia, with certaine Sonnets and the 
Legende of Cassandra, 1595; The Encomioti of Lady Pecunia, 1598. Two 
poems from this latter source reappeared in The Passionate Pilgrim, I599-] 

Barnfield is a poet whose personality has only of late years 
emerged into something like distinctness, his best poems having 
till recently had the honour of bearing Shakespeare's name. The 
reprint of The Affectionate Shepherd by Mr. Halliwell in 1845, 
from the almost unique copy in Sion College Library, first made 
Barnfield known to modern readers ; about the same time doubts 
began to arise concerning the authorship of the poems in The 
Passionate Pilgrim; and lately, in 1876, Mr. Grosart was able to 
print for the Roxburghe Club the complete poems, together with a 
number of facts about Barnfield's family and a few about his life. 
Of the latter we only learn that he belonged to a good Staffordshire 
family; that he became a member of Brasenose College, Oxford, 
in 1589 ; that on leaving Oxford he passed several years in London, 
apparently as a member of that literary circle of which Lady Rich, 
Sidney's 'Stella,' was the centre ; and that after 1605 he disap- 
peared, probably retiring like Shakespeare to his country home, 
but unlike him sending forth no poetic utterance into the world. 

The oddity of Barnfield's principal performance, The Affectionate 
Shepherd, is best explained by the date of its composition. He 
was not twenty when he wrote it ; and we are thus more inclined 
to tolerate both the sentiment (it is an elaborate expansion of 
Virgil's second eclogue), and the boyishness and incongruities 
which mar the execution. It is strange enough that such a poem 
should be dedicated to a lady (Lady Rich); stranger still that it 
should open with what must have read like a caricature of that 
lady's own love-story ; strangest of all that Daphnis, after display- 



BARNFIELD. 475 



ing all his Arcadian blandishments in vain through a hundred 
stanzas, should turn moralist and flood the obdurate Ganymede 
with ' lere I learned from a Beldame Trot ' — didactic ' lere,' of 
which these lines are a fair example : — 

' Be patient in extreame adveisitie, 

Man's chiefest credit growes by dooing well. 
Be not high minded in prosperilie, 

Falshood abhorre, no lying fable tell, 
Give not thyselfe to sloth, the sinke of shame. 
The moath of Time, the enemie to Fame ! ' 

Yet the poem has qualities which mark it out from the mass of 
Elizabethan pastoral. It has fluency, music, colour. Barnfield 
combines in it a mastery of euphuistic antithesis with a real 
knowledge of the country and its sights and sounds ; its ' scarlet- 
dyed carnation bleeding yet,' its 'fine ruffe -footed Doves,' its 
' curds and clowted creme,' the ' lyme-twigs and fine sparrow calles ' 
for the birdcatcher, the ' springes in a frostie night ' that take the 
woodcock. It is to be regretted that this eye for nature, this fine 
ear and honeyed tongue, were pressed into the service of a design 
too artificial and too alien from the common feeling of mankind. 

There is nothing of this sort to say against the well-known Ode 
which we here quote, and which is indeed in no respect unworthy 
of the great name to which it was so long attributed. From its 
happy union of ethical matter and fanciful form, from its strongly 
personal note, it ranks among the most interesting of the produc- 
tions of the lesser EHzabethans. 

Editor. 



^76 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Sonnet. 

[From Cynthia, &c'\ 

Beauty and Majesty are fallen at odds, 

Th' one claims his cheek, the other claims his chin ; 

Then Virtue comes and puts her title in : 

Quoth she, I make him like th' immortal Gods. 

Quoth Majesty, I own his looks, his brow ; 

His lips, quoth Love, his eyes, his fair is mine ; 

And yet, quoth Majesty, he is not thine, 

I mix disdain with Love's congealed snow. 

Ay, but, quoth Love, his locks are mine by right. 

His stately gait is mine, quoth Majesty ; 

And mine, quoth Virtue, is his Modesty. 

Thus as they strive about the heavenly wight 
At last the other two to Virtue yield 
The lists of Love, fought in fair Beauty's field. 

Sonnet to his friend Maister R. L. ^ 

[From Poems in Divers Humors ; also printed in The Passionate Pilgrim^ 

If music and sweet poetry agree, 
As they must needs, the sister and the brother, 
Then must the love be great 'twixt thee and me, 
Because thou lov'st the one, and I the other. 
Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch 
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense ; 
Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such 
As, passing all conceit, needs no defence. 
Thou lov'st to hear the sweet melodious sound 
That Phoebus' lute, the queen of music, makes ; 
And I in deep delight am chiefly drown'd 
Whcnas himself to singing he betakes. 

One god is god of both, as poets feign ; 

One knight loves both, and both in thee remain. 

' Perhaps Richard Lynch, author of Diella; certaine sonnets (1596). 



BARNFIELD, 477 



An Ode. 

[From the same.] 

As it fell upon a day 

In the merry month of May, 

Sitting in a pleasant shade 

Which a grove of myrtles made, 

Beasts did leap, and birds did sing, 

Trees did grow, and plants did spring ; 

Everything did banish moan. 

Save the nightingale alone : 

She, poor bird, as all forlorn, 

Lean'd her breast up-till a thorn, 

And there sung the dolefull'st ditty, 

That to hear it was great pity : 

' Fie, fie, fie,' now would she cry ; 

' Teru, teru ! ' by and by ; 

That to hear her so complain, 

Scarce I could from tears refrain ; 

For her griefs, so lively shown. 

Made me think upon mine own. 

Ah, thought I, thou mourn'st in vain ' 

None takes pity on thy pain : 

Senseless trees they cannot hear thee ; 

Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee ; 

King Pandion he is dead ; 

All thy friends are lapp'd in lead ; 

All thy fellow birds do sing. 

Careless of thy sorrowing. 

[Even so, poor bird, like thee. 

None alive will pity me.] 

Whilst as fickle Fortune smiled. 

Thou and I were both beguiled. 

Every one that flatters thee 
Is no friend in misery. 
Words are easy, like the wind ; 
Faithful friends are hard to find : 



478 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Every man will be thy friend 

Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend ; 

But if store of crowns be scant, 

No man will supply thy want. 

If that one be prodigal, 

Bountiful they will him call, 

And with such-like flattering, 

' Pity but he were a king ; ' 

If he be addict to vice, 

Quickly him they will entice ; 

If to women he be bent, 

They have at commandement : 

But if Fortune once do frown. 

Then farewell his great renown ; 

They that fawn'd on him before 

Use his company no more. 

He that is thy friend indeed, 

He will help thee in thy need : 

If thou sorrow, he will weep ; 

If thou wake, he cannot sleep ; 

Thus of every grief in heart 

He with thee doth bear a part. 

These are certain signs to know 

Faithful friend from flattering foe. 



ROBERT SOUTHWELL. 

[Born at Horsham St. Faith's, Norfolk, about 1562 ; entered the Society 
of Jesus, 1578, at Rome; accompanied Father Garnet to England, was 
captured ; and was executed at Tyburn, 1594-5. St. Peter's Cotnplaint, with 
other Poems, was first published in 1 595 ; Maeoniae in the same year ; 
Marie Magdalen's Futier all Teares, 1609.] 

Southwell's poems enjoyed a vast popularity in the last decade 
of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
Sf. Peter's Complaint, first printed in 1595, was again and again 
re-issued in that and the immediately following years. Both Hall 
and Marston refer to it in their Satires. ' Never,' says Bolton in 
his Hypercritica, ' must be forgotten St. Peter's Complaint and 
those other serious poems said to be father Southwell's ; the 
English whereof, as it is most proper, so the sharpness and light 
of wit is very rare in them.' 

No doubt this popularity was greatly due to the deep interest 
and pity excited by his misfortunes, encountered and borne with 
so rare a constancy. No Protestant could be so desperately 
bigoted as not to be touched by the sad yet noble story of what 
this young English gentleman dared and endured. Whatever 
may be thought of his cause, one can only admire the fearless 
devotion with which he gave himself up to it, reckless of danger, 
of torture, of death. ' Let antiquity,' says one whose office it then 
was to suppress so far as might be the efforts often at least 
miserably misguided, of the confederacy to which Southwell be- 
longed, 'boast of its Roman heroes and the patience of captives 
in torments ; our own age is not inferior to it, nor do the minds 
of the English cede to the Romans. There is at present confined 
one Southwell, a Jesuit, who, thirteen times most cruelly tortured, 
cannot be induced to confess anything, not even the colour of 
the horse whereon on a certain day he rode, lest from such in- 
dication his adversaries might conjecture in what house, or in 
company of what Catholics, he that day was.' He was only about 
twenty-four years of age — the exact year of his birth is not ascer- 
tained — when along with Garnet (afterwards associated with the 



48o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Gunpowder Plot, as was believed, and on evidence never yet 
successfully rebutted), he returned to England on his perilous 
mission. Some six years afterwards he fell into his enemies' 
hands. For three years he was closely confined in the Tower ; 
and then came the ignominious end at Tyburn. Such a story 
could not but move men, — the story of a spirit so strong in its 
faith, zealous, inflexible. 

Nor would those who were drawn to his writings by sympathy 
with his martyrdom fail to see in them the reflection of his lofty 
and devoted nature. Nearly all his poetry must have been written 
in the valley of the shadow of death, some of it in death's very 
presence. And throughout it we perceive the thoughts and beliefs 
that ever inspired and upheld him. Especially dear and welcome 
and present is the idea that ' Life is but loss.' Death is cruel, not 
for coming, but for delaying to come. This has often been said, 
but never with an intenser sincerity and conviction. ' This death,' 
he said just before ' the horses were started and the car removed 
from his feet' and he was hanged, 'although it may now seem 
base and ignominious, can to no rightly-thinking person appear 
doubtful but that it is beyond measure an eternal weight of glory 
to be wrought in us, who look not to the things which are visible, 
but to those which are unseen.' We may be sure these words 
were with him no vulgar commonplace. 

And apart from their attraction as revealing the secret of his 
much-enduring spirit, his poems show a true poetic power. They 
show a rich and fertile fancy, with an abundant store of effective 
expression at its service. He inclines to sententiousness ; but his 
sentences are no mere prose edicts, as is so often the case with 
writers of that sort ; they are bright and coloured with the light 
and the hues of a vivid imagination. In imagery, indeed, he is 
singularly opulent. In this respect St. Peter's Coinplamt reminds 
one curiously of the almost exactly contemporary poem, Shake- 
speare's Liicrece. There is a like inexhaustibleness of illustrative 
resource. He delights to heap up metaphor on metaphor. Thus 
he describes Sleep as 

'Death's ally, oblivion of tears, 
Silence of passions, blame of angry sore, 
Suspense of loves, security of fears. 

Wrath's lenity, heart's ease, storm's calmest shore; 
Senses' and souls' reprieval from all cumbers, 
Benumbing sense of ill with quiet slumbers.' 



SOUTHWELL. 



St. Peter's Complamt reminds one of Liicrece also in the minute- 
ness of its narration, and in the unfailing abundance of thought 
and fancy with which every detail is treated. It is undoubtedly 
the work of a mind of no ordinar}^ copiousness and force, often 
embarrassed by its own riches, and so expending them with a 
prodigal carelessness. Thus Southwell's defects spring not from 
poverty, but from imperfectly managed wealth ; or, to use a dif- 
ferent image, the flowers are overcrowded in his garden, and the 
blaze of colour is excessive. Still, flowers they are. Like many 
another Elizabethan, he was wanting in art ; his genius ran riot. 



John W. Hales. 



VOL. I, I 1 



482 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Times go by Turns. 

The lopped tree in time may grow again ; 
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower ; 
The sorest wight may find release of pain, 
The driest soil suck in some moist'ning shower ; 
Times go by turns and chances change by course, 
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse. 

The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow. 
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb ; 
Her time hath equal times to come and go, 
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web ; 
No joy so great but runneth to an end. 
No hap so hard but may in fine amend. 

Not always fall of leaf nor ever spring. 
No endless night yet not eternal day ; 
The saddest birds a season find to sing, 
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay ; 
Thus with succeeding turns God tempereth all. 
That man may hope to rise yet fear to fall. 

A chance may win that by mischance was lost ; 
The well that holds no great, takes little fish ; 
In some things all, in all things none are cross'd. 
Few all they need, but none have all they wish ; 
Unmeddled joys here to no man befall. 
Who least hath some, who most hath never all. 



Loss IN Delay. 

Shun delays, they breed remorse ; 

Take thy time while time is lent thee ; 
Creeping snails have weakest force, 

Fly their fault lest thou repent thee. 
Good is best when soonest wrought, 
Lingcr'd labours come to nought. 



SOUTHWELL. 483 

Hoist up sail while gale doth last, 

Tide and wind stay no man's pleasure ; 

Seek not time when time is past, 
Sober speed is wisdom's leisure. 

After-wits are dearly bought. 

Let thy forewit guide thy thought. 

Time wears all his locks before. 

Take thy hold on his forehead ; 
When he flies he turns no more, 

And behind his scalp's naked. 
Works adjourn'd have many stays, 
Long demurs breed new delays. 

Seek thy salve while sore is green, 

Fester'd wounds ask deeper lancing ; 
After-cures are seldom seen, 

Often sought, scarce ever chancing. 
Time and place give best advice. 
Out of season, out of price. 

Crush the serpent in the head. 

Break ill eggs ere they be hatch'd ; 
Kill bad chickens in the tread, 

Fledged, they hardly can be catch'd. 
In the rising stifle ill. 
Lest it grow against thy will. 

Drops do pierce the stubborn flint. 

Not by force but often falling ; 
Custom kills with feeble dint. 

More by use than strength and vailing. 
Single sands have little weight, 
Many make a drawing freight. 

Tender twigs are bent with ease. 

Aged trees do break with bending ; 
Young desires make little prease ', 

Growth doth make them past amending 
Happy man, that soon doth knock 
Babel's babes against the rock ! 

' press, crowd. 
I i 2 



43 4 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Burning Babe. 

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow, 
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ; 
And Hfting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near, 
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear, 
Who scorched with exceeding heat such floods of tears did shed, 
As though His floods should quench His flames with what His 

tears were fed ; 
Alas ! quoth He, but newly born in fiery heats of fr>', 
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I ! 
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns ; 
Love is the fire and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ; 
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals ; 
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls ; 
For which, as now on fire I am, to work them to their good. 
So will I melt into a bath, to wash them in my blood : 
With this He vanish'd out of sight, and swiftly shrunk away, 
And straiglit I called unto mind that it was Christmas-day. 



From 'St. Peter's Complaint.' 

Like solest swan, that swims in silent deep, 
And never sings but obsequies of death. 

Sigh out thy plaints, and sole in secret weep, 
In suing pardon spend thy perjur'd breath ; 

Attire thy soul in sorrow's mourning weed, 

And at thine eyes let guilty conscience bleed. 

Still in the 'lembic of thy doleful breast 

Those bitter fruits that from thy sins do grow ; 

For fuel, self-accusing thoughts be best ; 

Use fear as fire, the coals let penance blow ; 

And seek none other quintessence but tears. 

That eyes may shed what entcr'd at thine ears. 



SOUTHWELL. 485 



Come sorrowing tears, the offspring of my grief, 
Scant not your parent of a needful aid ; 

In you I rest the hope of wish'd relief, 
By you my sinful debts must be defray'd : 

Your power prevails, your sacrifice is grateful. 

By love obtaining life to men most hateful. 

Come good effect of ill-deserving cause, 

111 gotten imps, yet virtuously brought forth ; 

Self-blaming probates of infringed laws, 

Yet blamed faults redeeming with your worth ; 

The signs of shame in you each eye may read, 

Yet, while you guilty prove, you pity plead. 

O beams of mercy ! beat on sorrow's cloud. 

Pour suppling showers upon my parched ground ; 

Bring forth the fruit to your due service vow'd, 
Let good desires with like deserts be crown'd : 

Water young blooming virtue's tender flow'r, 

Sin did all grace of riper growth devour. 

Weep balm and myrrh, you sweet Arabian trees. 
With purest gums perfume and pearl your rine ; 

Shed on your honey-drops, you busy bees, 
I, barren plant, must weep unpleasant brine : 

Hornets I hive, salt drops their labour plies, 

Suck'd out of sin, and shed by showering eyes. 

If David, night by night, did bathe his bed. 
Esteeming longest days too short to moan ; 

Tears inconsolable if Anna shed, 

Who in her son her solace had foregone ; 

Then I to days and weeks, to months and years, 

Do owe the hourly rent of stintless tears. 

If love, if loss, if fault, if spotted fame. 

If danger, death, if wrath, or wreck of weal, 

Entitle eyes true heirs to earned blame. 
That due remorse in such events conceal : 

That want of tears might well enrol my name, 

As chiefcst saint in kalendar of shame. 



RALEIGH. 



[Born 1552, executed 1618. No early collected edition of his poems 
exists; such as were printed at all appeared for the most part in the 
Miscellanies of the time.] 

Amongst all the restless, fervid, adventurous spirits of the Eliza- 
bethan age, perhaps there is none so conspicuous for those charac- 
teristics as Sir Walter Raleigh. A soldier from his youth ; at an 
early period connected with the great maritime movements of his 
time ; ever the foremost hater and antagonist of Spain and all its 
works ; one of the first, if not the first, to fully conceive the idea of 
colonisation and to attempt to realise it, and at the same time 
taking an active — too active — part in the party intrigues and 
contentions of a court where the struggle for place and favour 
never ceased raging, yet amidst all his schemes and enterprises, 
noble and ignoble, finding leisure also for far other interests and 
pursuits ; capable of a keen enjoyment of poetry ; himself a poet of a 
true and genuine quality, — he is in a singular degree the representa- 
tive of the vigorous versatility of the Elizabethan period. 

His high imaginativeness is perceptible in the political concep- 
tions and dreams which abounded in his busy brain. It can scarcely 
be doubted that, had his energies received a different direction, he 
would have won a distinguished place amongst the distinguished 
poets of his day. He whom Spenser styles 'the summer's nightin- 
gale ' might have poured forth a full volume of song of rare strength 
and sweetness. But, as it was, he found little time for singing ; 
the wonder is he found any — that one so cumbered about much 
serving did not become altogether of the world worldly, that so 
occupied with actualities he still was visited even transiently by 
visions of divine things. 

We are apt to pity his misfortunes ; and yet it may be they were 
the blessings of his chequered life. His disgraces and confine- 
ments in the Tower would after all seem to have been the times 



RALEIGH. 487 

when his nobler self was asserted, and he communed with his own 

heart. 

'Stone walls do not a prison make, 

Nor iron bars a cage.' 

We have no pleasanter picture of him than that Spenser draws, 
when ' faultless ' debarred from the presence of his ' Cynthia the 
Lady of the Sea,' he had withdrawn himself to his Irish estate and 
thence visited his neighbour the poet. 

' He sitting me beside in that same shade. 
Provoked me to play some pleasant fit; 
And when he heard the music which I made, 
He found himself full greatly pleased at it. 

Yet semuling my pipe, he took in hand 

My pipe, before that semuled of many, 
And played thereon (for well that skill he conn'd). 

Himself as skilful in that art as any. 

He pip'd, I sang; and when he sang I pip'd; 

By change of turns each making other merry; 
Neither envying other, nor envied ; 

So piped we, until we both were weary.' 

It is impossible not to connect two at least of his most famous 
pieces— 77z£? Lie and The Pilgrimage— Wiih similar passages of his 
life, when, for one reason or another, he was ' under a cloud,' as he 
thought, but really in a clearer air. His imprisonments were in 
fact his salvations. Through the Traitor's Gate he passed to a 
tranquillity and thoughtfulness for which there seemed no oppor- 
tunity outside. In his cell in the White Tower his soul found and 
enjoyed a real freedom. 

'Then, like a bird, it sits and sings, 
Then whets and claps its silver wings, 

And till prepared for longer flight. 
Waves in its plumes the various light.' 

It is a significant tradition attached to several of his verses, that 
they were written the night before he was beheaded. Of only one 
poem is it likely to be true ; in respect of several it can be certainly 
disproved ; but it illustrates the impression often produced by his 
poetry. The sweet clear voice comes to us, as it were, through a 
barred and grated window ; and calls up the image of a solitary 



488 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

figure soothing and quieting itself with the thought, too often 
forgotten elsewhere and in other days, that there is a higher life 
than that of the courtier, a more splendid preferment than an 
earthly sovereign can give. 

His poetic writings are but scanty in amount. One at least, his 
Cmthia, is lost ; part of a continuation of it, extant in a Hatfield 
MS., has been lately printed for the first time. His fame has been 
damaged by the unauthorised ascription to him of inferior and 
worthless pieces ; and, on the other hand, by taking away from 
him what he undoubtedly wrote. In respect of both rejection 
and appropriation. Dr. Hannah has performed for him a much- 
needed service in his excellent volume, ' The Poems of Sir Walter 
Raleigh collected and authenticated, with those of Sir Henry 
Wotton and other Courtly Poets from 1540 to 1650.' 

John W. Hales. 



RALEIGH. 
A Vision upon this Conceit of the Fairy Queen. 

[Appended to Spenser's Faery QueenJ] 

Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay, 
Within that temple where the vestal flame 
Was wont to burn : and, passing by that way, 
To see that buried dust of living fame, 
Whose tomb fair Love and fairer Virtue kept, 
All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen ; 
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept. 
And from thenceforth those graces were not seen. 
For they this Queen attended ; in whose stead 
Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse. 
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed. 
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce : 
Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief. 
And cursed the access of that celestial thief. 



Reply to Marlowe's 'The Passionate Shepherd to 
His Love\' 

If all the world and love were young. 
And truth in ever)' shepherd's tongue. 
These pretty pleasures might me move 
To live with thee and be thy love. 

But time drives flocks from field to fold, 
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold ; 
And Philomel becometh dumb ; 
The rest complains of cares to come. 

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields 
To wayward winter reckoning yields : 
A honey tongue, a heart of gall, 
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's falL 

' See p. 418. 



490 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses, 
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies, 
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten, — 
In folly ripe, in reason rotten. 

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds, 
Thy coral clasps and amber studs, — 
All those in me no means can move 
To come to thee and be thy love. 

But could youth last, and love still breed ; 
Had joys no date, nor age no need ; 
Then those dehghts my mind might move 
To live with thee and be thy love. 



The Lie. 

Go, Soul, the body's guest, 
Upon a thankless arrant ^ : 

Fear not to touch the best ; 

The truth shall be thy warrant : 

Go, since I needs must die, 

And give the world the lie. 

Say to the court, it glows 
And shines like rotten wood ; 

Say to the church, it shows 

What 's good, and doth no good 

If court and church reply, 

Then give them both the lie. 

Tell potentates, they live 
Acting by others' action ; 

Not loved unless they give. 
Not strong but by a faction : 

If potentates reply. 

Give potentates the lie. 

• errand. 



RALEIGH. 491 



Tell men of high condition, 

That manage the estate, 
Their purpose is ambition, 

Their practice only hate : 
And if they once reply, 
Then give them all the lie. 

Tell them that brave it most. 
They beg for more by spending. 

Who, in their greatest cost. 

Seek nothing but commending : 

And if they make reply, 

Then give them all the lie. 

Tell zeal it wants devotion ; 

Tell love it is but lust ; 
Tell time it is but motion ; 

Tell flesh it is but dust : 
And wish them not reply, 
For thou must give the He. 

Tell age it daily wasteth ; 

Tell honour how it alters ; 
Tell beauty how she blasteth ; 

Tell favour how it falters : 
And as they shall reply. 
Give every one the lie. 

Tell wit how much it wrangles 
In tickle points of niceness ; 

Tell wisdom she entangles 
Herself in over-wiseness : 

And when they do reply. 

Straight give them both the lie. 

Tell physic of her boldness ; 

Tell skill it is pretension ; 
Tell charity of coldness ; 

Tell law it is contention ; 
And as they do reply. 
So give them still the lie. 



492 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Tell fortune of her blindness ; 

Tell nature of decay; 
Tell friendship of unkindness ; 

Tell justice of delay: 
And if they will reply, 
Then give them all the lie. 

Tell arts they have no soundness, 
But vary by esteeming ; 

Tell schools they want profoundness, 
And stand too much on seeming : 

If arts and schools reply, 

Give arts and schools the lie. 

Tell faith it's fled the city; 

Tell how the country erreth ; 
Tell manhood shakes off pity ; 

Tell virtue least preferreth : 
And if they do reply. 
Spare not to give the lie. 

So when thou hast, as I 

Commanded thee, done blabbing, — 
Although to give the lie 

Deserves no less than stabbing, — 
Stab at thee he that will, 
No stab the soul can kill. 

His Pilgrimage. 

Give me my scallop-shell of quiet, 
My staff of faith to walk upon, 

My scrip of joy, immortal diet. 
My bottle of salvation. 

My gown of glory, hope's true gage ; 

And thus I'll take my pilgrimage 

Blood must be my body's balmer ; 

No other balm will there be given ; 
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer, 

Travellcth towards the land of heaven ; 



RALEIGH. 493 

Over the silver mountains, 

Where spring the nectar fountains : 

There will I kiss 

The bowl of bliss ; 
And drink mine everlasting fill 
Upon every milken hill. 
My soul will be a-dry before ; 
But after, it will thirst no more. 

Then by that happy blissful day. 

More peaceful pilgrims I shall see, 
That have cast off their rags of clay, 
And walk apparell'd fresh like me. 
I'll take them first 
To quench their thirst 
And taste of nectar suckets, 
At those clear wells 
Where sweetness dwells, 
Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets. 

And when our bottles and all we 

Are fill'd with immortalit}'. 

Then the blessed paths we '11 travel, 

Strow'd with rubies thick as gravel ; 

Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors, 

High walls of coral and pearly bowers. 

From thence to heaven's bribeless hdll, 

Where no corrupted voices brawl ; 

No conscience molten into gold. 

No forg'd accuser bought or sold. 

No cause deferr'd, no vain-spent journey, 

For there Christ is the king's Attorney, 

Who pleads for all without degrees. 

And He hath angels, but no fees. 

And when the grand twelve-million jury 

Of our sins, with direful fury. 

Against our souls black verdicts give, 

Christ pleads His death, and then we live. 



494 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Be Thou my speaker, taintless pleader, 
Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder ! 
Thou givest salvation even for alms ; 
Not with a bribed lawyer's palms. 
And this is mine eternal plea 
To Him that made heaven, earth, and sea, 
That, since my flesh must die so soon. 
And want a head to dine next noon. 
Just at the stroke, when my veins start and spread, 
Set on my soul an everlasting head ! 
Then am I ready, like a palmer fit. 
To tread those blest paths which before I writ. 

Of death and judgment, heaven and hell, 
Who oft doth think, must needs die well. 



Verses found in his Bible in the Gate-House at 
Westminster. 

Even such is time, that takes in trust 
Our youth, our joys, our all we have, 
And pays us but with earth and dust ; 
Who, in the dark and silent grave. 
When we have wandered all our ways, 
Shuts up the story of our days ; 
But from this earth, this grave, this dust, 
My God shall raise me up, I trust ! 



ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANIES. 



The Poetical Miscellanies are among the most characteristic 
productions of the age of Elizabeth, and no selection from the 
work of that age could be at all complete without a reference to 
them. Devised sometimes by an enterprising bookseller, some- 
times by a literary editor like Clement Robinson or Francis 
Davison, they formed collections— cana'oneros as it were — of the 
occasional verse of most of the poets of the day, and they thus 
preserve for us a mass of poems which, without such an opportunity 
for publication, the authors would infallibly have let die. Much 
of what is contained in the later miscellanies, especially in England's 
Helico7i, was, it is true, reprinted from works already issued ; but 
much, on the other hand, was new. The value of the collections 
was at once recognised, and no work of any single author of the 
time had such success as fell to their lot ; for example, TottelFs 
Miscellany went through eight editions before 1587, and the 
Paradyse of Dainty Devises Xhrongh. nine between 1576 and 1606. 
They were not, however, books likely to survive the shocks of time ; 
and copies of these original editions are in almost all cases exces- 
sively rare. Fortunately most of the poems are now put beyond 
the risk of loss by the careful reprints of modern scholars, such as 
Sir Egerton Br>'dges, Mr. Park, Mr. Collier, and Mr. Arber. 

The following is a hst of the printed Miscellanies which are 
known to exist : — 

(i) Tottell's Miscellany ; properly called Sottges and Sonettes, 

-written by the rygJit honorable Lorde Henry Haward, 

late Earle of Surrey, and other. 1557. 

This, which is of course not strictly Elizabethan, contains the 

first edition of Surrey's and Wyatt's poems ; poems by Nicholas 

Grimald, and about forty poems by uncertain authors, among 

whom are known to have been Thomas, Lord \'aux, Edward 

Somerset, and John Heywood. 



496 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

(2) TJie Paradyse of Daytity Devises, devised and written for 

the most part by M. Edwards, sometimes of her 
Majesties CJiappel ; the rest by sundry learned gentle- 
men, both of hojioyr and woorshippe. 1576. 
In spite of its fantastic title the poems here contained are 
mostly didactic and religious. Among the writers may be named 
Richard Edwards (the M. or Mr. Edwards of the title-page), Lord 
Vaux, Wilham Hunnis, and Jasper Heywood. The last-named 
contributes a poem, of too great length and too little strictly 
poetical merit to be here quoted, which reads like a curious 
anticipation of Polonius' advice to Laertes. 

(3) A Gorgious Gallery of Gallant Inventions. Edited by 

T. Procter and (perhaps) O. Roydon. 1578. 
An inferior collection. 

(4) A handefull of Pleasant Dclites, by Clement Robinson 

and divers other. 1584. 
The title-page says the poems are ' newlly devised to the newest 
tunes,' which suggests that many of these collections were pri- 
marily song-books. 

(5) Breton'' s Bower of Delites, 1592. 

Published supposititiously by one Richard Jones, and attri- 
buted to Nicholas Breton. It is really a Miscellany, and of the 
poems it contains only three or four are Breton's. 

(6) The Phcenix Nest, edited by R. S. [? Richard Stapylton]. 

1593- 
Among the contributors are Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, 
Sir W. Herbert, Lodge, Watson, and Peele. 

(7) The Arbor of Amorous Devises, 1567. 

The only known copy of this book has no title-page, but a sale 
catalogue of 1781, apparently describing a copy that cannot now 
be traced, quotes it as by Nicholas Breton. As such Mr. Grosart 
prints it in his collected edition of Breton's works. But, as the 
printer's prefatory letter declares, it is in fact a Miscellany, 'being 
many mens work excellent poets.' All the poems in the collec- 
tion are anonymous ; one of them is the lovely Lullaby we give 
on p. 500. 

(8) The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599. 

Contains writings of Shakespeare, Barnfield, Marlowe, Raleigh, 
and others. 



MISCELLANIES. 497 



(9) England's Helicon, 1600 ; edited by J. Bodenham. 
This is the most celebrated and the richest of the whole class, 
and is in itself a compendium of all that is best or that at the 
time was famous among Elizabethan pastorals and love poems. 
Every hving poet of eminence seems to have been drawn upon 
for a copy of verses, and much was added from the stores of those 
no longer living. Thus we have poems from Surrey, Spenser, 
Sidney, Lord Brooke, Greene, Lodge, Marlowe, and even from 
Shakespeare ; from Watson, Drayton, Browne ; and much of what 
has since been rightly and wrongly attributed to Raleigh appears 
here under the title Igiioto. Some of the most celebrated poems, 
such as Sidney's ' Love is dead,' we give under their authors' 
names ; it is better in this place to quote only from those minor 
but still beautiful writers who are otherwise not represented in 
these volumes — such as Breton, the Shepherd Tonie (? Anthony 
Munday), and Bolton. 

{\<S) A Poetical Rapsody, 1602. 
The editor of this most interesting miscellany was Francis 
Davison, who with his brother Walter contributed many poems. 
The list of other writers includes Sidney, Raleigh, Sir John 
Davies, Watson, Sylvester, Charles Best, and many more, the 
editor pretending, after the fashion of those times, to throw the 
responsibility of inserting the works of such ' great and learned 
personages' upon the too presumptuous printer. It is interest- 
ing to note that Davison, writing in 1602, contrasts the poetry 
of twenty years before with ' the perfection which it has now 
attained'; a kind of boast which was commoner at the end of 
the seventeenth century than at the beginning. We may add 
that the 'Rapsody' passed through four editions in the reign of 
James I, and that in that of 1608 the poem of 'The Lie, 'which 
we print under Raleigh's name, first appeared. 

Editor. 



VOL. I. 



Kk 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



[From The Paradyse of Dainty Devises, 1576.] 

Amantium Irae. 

In going to my naked bed, as one that would have slept, 
I heard a wife sing to her child, that long before had wept : 
She sighed sore and sang full sore, to bring the babe to rest, 
That would not rest but cried still in sucking at her breast : 
She was full weary of her watch, and grieved with her child, 
She rocked it and rated it, until on her it smiled : 
Then did she say now have I found the proverb true to -prove 
The falling out of faithful friends is the renewing of love. 

I marvel much, pardy, quoth she, for to behold the rout, 

To see man, woman, boy and beast, to toss the world about : 

Some kneel, some crouch, some beck, some check, and some 

can smoothly smile, 
And some embrace others in arms, and there think many a wile : 
Some stand aloof at cap and knee, some humble and some stout, 
Yet are they never friends indeed, until they once fall out : 
Thus ended she her song, and said before she did remove, 
The faUing out of faithful friends is the renewing of love. 

F. Edwards. 

[From A Handefull of Pleasant Delites, 15S4.] 

A Proper Sonnet. 

(To any pleasant Tune.) 

I smile to see how you devise 

New masking nets my eyes to blear ; 

Yourself you cannot so disguise, 
But as you are you must appear. 

Your privy winks at board I see. 
And how you set your roving mind ; 

Yourself you cannot hide from me, 
Although I wink, I am not blind. 



ELIZABE THAN MISCELLANIES. 499 

The secret sighs and feigned cheer 

That oft doth pain thy careful breast, 
To me right plainly doth appear ; 

I see in whom thy heart doth rest. 

And though thou mak'st a feigned vow 
That love no more thy heart should nip, 

Yet think I know as well as thou 
The fickle helm doth guide the ship. 

The salamander in the fire 

By course of wind doth bathe his limbs ; 
The floating fish tak'th his desire 

In running streams whereas he swims. 

So thou in change dost take delight ; 

Full well I know thy slippery kind ; 
In vain thou seem'st to dim my sight ; 

Thy rolling eyes bewray thy mind. 

I see him smile that doth possess 

Thy love, which once I honoured most ; 

If he be wise he may well guess 
Thy love, soon won, will soon be lost. 

And sith thou can no more entice 

That he should still love thee alone, 
Thy beauty now hath lost her price, 

I see thy savourj' scent is gone. 

Therefore leave off thy wonted play, 

But as thou art thou wilt appear ; 
Unless thou canst devise a way 

To dark the sun that shines so clear. 

And keep thy friend, that thou hast won ; 

In truth to him thy love supply ; 
Lest he at length, as I have done. 

Take off thy bells, and let thee fly ! 

Anon. 

K k2 



500 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



[From The Arbor of Amorous Devises, 1597.] 

A Sweet Lullaby. 

Come little babe, come silly soul, 

Thy father's shame, thy mother's grief, 

Born as I doubt to all our dole, 

And to thyself unhappy chief: 
Sing lullaby and lap it warm. 
Poor soul that thinks no creature harm. 

Thou little think'st and less dost know 

The cause of this thy mother's moan ; 

Thou want'st the wit to wail her woe. 

And I myself am all alone ; 

Why dost thou weep, why dost thou wail. 
And know'st not yet what thou dost ail ? 

Come little wretch, ah silly heart. 
Mine only joy ; what can I more .■* 
If there be any wrong thy smart 
That may the destinies implore ; 

'Twas I, I say, against my will ; 

I wail the time, but be thou still. 

And dost thou smile ? oh, thy sweet face ! 
Would God himself he might thee see ! 
No doubt thou soon wouldst purchase grace, 
I know right well, for thee and me. 

But come to mother, babe, and play ; 

For father false is fled away. 

Sweet boy, if it by fortune chance 
Thy father home again to send. 
If death do strike me with his lance, 
Yet mayst thou me to him commend ; 
If any ask thy mother's name. 
Tell how by love she purchased blame. 



ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANIES. 50 1 

Then will his gentle heart soon yield ; 
I know him of a noble mind ; 
Although a lion in the field 
A lamb in turn thou shalt him find ; 

Ask blessing, babe ! be not afraid ; 

His sugared words have me betrayed. 

Then mayst thou joy and be right glad 
Although in woe I seem to moan ; 
Thy father is no rascal lad, 
A noble youth of blood and bone ; 

His glancing looks, if once he smile, 

Right honest women may beguile. 

Come little boy and rock asleep ; 
Sing lullaby and be thou still ; 
I that can do nought else but weep 
Will sit by thee and wail my fill : 

God bless my babe, and lullaby 

From this thy father's quality ! 

Anon. 

[From England's Helicon, 1600.] 

A Palinode. 

As withereth the primrose by the river, 
As fadeth summer's sun from gliding fountains, 
As vanisheth the light blown bubble ever, 
As melteth snow upon the mossy mountains : 
So melts, so vanisheth, so fades, so withers. 
The rose, the shine, the bubble and the snow, 
Of praise, pomp, glory, joy, which short life gathers, 
Fair praise, vain pomp, sweet glory, brittle joy. 
The withered primrose by the mourning river, 
The faded summer's sun from weeping fountains, 
The light-blown bubble, vanished for ever. 
The molten snow upon the naked mountains, 
Are emblems that the treasures we uplay, 
Soon wither, vanish, fade, and melt away. 



THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Yox as the snow, whose lawn did overspread 
Th' ambitious hills, which giant-like did threat 
To pierce the heaven with their aspiring head, 
Naked and bare doth leave their craggy seat : 
When as the bubble, which did empty fly, 
The dalliance of the undiscerned wind, 
On whose calm rolling waves it did rely, 
Hath shipwreck made, where it did dalliance find : 
And when the sunshine which dissolved the snow, 
Coloured the bubble with a pleasant vary, 
And made the rathe and timely primrose grow, 
Swarth clouds withdraw, which longer time do tarry : 
O what is praise, pomp, glory, joy, but so 
As shine by fountains, bubbles, flowers or snow ? 

Edimmd Bolton. 



Phillida and Corydon. 

In the merry month of May, 

In a morn by break of day. 

Forth I walked by the wood-side, 

When as May was in his pride : 

There I spied all alone 

PhiUida and Corydon. 

Much ado there was, God wot. 

He would love and she would not. 

She said never man was true, 

He said, none was false to you. 

He said, he had lov'd her long. 

She said. Love should have no wrong. 

Corydon would kiss her then. 

She said, maids must kiss no men, 

Till they did for good and all : 

Then she made the shepherd call 

All the heavens to witness truth : 

Never lov'd a truer youth. 

Thus with many a pretty oath. 

Yea and nay, and faith and troth, 



ELIZABErHAN MISCELLANIES. .r:o- 



Such as silly shepherds use 
When they will not Love abuse, 
Love which had been long deluded, 
Was with kisses sweet concluded, 
And Phillida with garlands gay, 
Was made the lady of the May. 

Nicholas Breton. 

To Colin Clout, 

Beauty sat bathing by a spring, 

Where fairest shades did hide her, 
The winds blew calm, the birds did sing, 

The cool streams ran beside her. 
My wanton thoughts entic'd mine eye 

To see what was forbidden : 
But better memory said, fie. 

So vain desire was chidden. 

Hey nonnie, nonnie, &c. 

Into a slumber then I fell. 

When fond imagination 
Seemed to see, but could not tell 

Her feature or her fashion. 
But even as babes in dreams do smile 

And sometimes fall a weeping. 
So I awaked, as wise this while, 

As when I fell a sleeping. 

Hey nonnie, nonnie, &c. 

Shepherd Tottie. 

Phillida's Love-call to her Corydon, and his Replying. 

Phil. Corydon, arise my Corydon, 

Titan shineth clear. 
Cor. Who is it that calleth Corydon, 

Who is it that I hear? 
Phil. Phillida thy true love calleth thee, 

Arise then, arise then ; 

Arise and keep thy flock with mc. 



504 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Cor. Phillida, my true love, is it she ? 
I come then, I come then, 
I come and keep my flock with thee. 

Phil. Here are cherries ripe my Corydon, 

Eat them for my sake. 
Cor. Here's my oaten pipe, my lovely one, 

Sport for thee to make. 
Phil. Here are threads, my true love, fine as silk, 

To knit thee, to knit thee 

A pair of stockings white as milk. 
Cor. Here are reeds, my true love, fine and neat, 

To make thee, to make thee 
A bonnet to withstand the heat. 

Phil. I will gather flowers my Corydon, 

To set in thy cap. 
Cor. I will gather pears, my lovely one, 

To put in thy lap. 
Phil. I will buy my true love garters gay, 

For Sundays, for Sundays, 

To wear about his legs so tall. 
Cor. I will buy my true love yellow say\ 

For Sundays, for Sundays, 
To wear about her middle small 

Phil. When my Corydon sits on a hill 

Making melody : 
Cor. When my lovely one goes to her wheel, 

Singing cheerily. 
Phil. Sure methinks my true love doth excel 
For sweetness, for sweetness. 

Our Pan that old Arcadian knight. 
Cor. And methinks my true love bears the bell 
For clearness, for clearness. 

Beyond the nymphs that be so bright. 

Phil. Had my Corydon, my Corydon, 
Been (alack) hcr'^ swain : 

' Thin serge : Fr. aaic. * The edilions give ' my.' 



ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANIES. 505 



Cor. Had my lovely one, my lovely one, 

Been in Ida plain : 
Phil. Cynthia Endymion had refus'd, 
Preferring, preferring, 

My Corydon to play withal : 
Cor. The queen of love had been excus'd 
Bequeathing, bequeathing, 
My Phillida the golden ball. 

PJtil. Yonder comes my mother, Corydon, 

Whither shall I fly? 
Cor. Under yonder beech my lovely one, 
While she passeth by. 
Say to her thy true love was not here : 
Remember, remember. 

To-morrow is another day. 
Cor. Doubt me not, my true love, do not fear : 
Farewell then, farewell then. 
Heaven keep our loves alway. 

Ignoto. 

[From Davison's Posiical Rapsody, 1602.] 

A Fiction : how Cupid made a Nymph wound 

HERSELF WITH HIS ARROWS. 

It chanc'd of late a shepherd's swain, 
That went to seek a strayed sheep, 
Within a thicket on the plain. 
Espied a dainty Nymph asleep. 

Her golden hair o'erspread her face. 
Her careless arms abroad were cast. 
Her quiver had her pillow's place. 
Her breast lay bare to every blast. 

The shepherd stood and gaz'd his fill ; 
Nought durst he do, nought durst he say, 
When chance, or else perhaps his will, 
Did guide the God of Love that way. 



5o6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

The crafty boy that sees her sleep, 
Whom if she wak'd, he durst not see, 
Behind her closely seeks to creep, 
Before her nap should ended be. 

There come, he steals her shafts away, 
And puts his own into their place ; 
Nor dares he any longer stay, 
But ere she wakes, hies thence apace. 

Scarce was he gone when she awakes, 
And spies the shepherd standing by ; 
Her bended bow in haste she takes. 
And at the simple swain let fly. 

Forth flew the shaft and pierc'd his heart, 
That to the ground he fell with pain ; 
Yet up again forthwith he start. 
And to the Nymph he ran amain. 

Amaz'd to see so strange a sight, 
She shot, and shot, but all in vain ; 
The more his wounds, the more his might ; 
Love yieldeth strength in midst of pain. 

Her angry eyes are great with tears. 
She blames her hands, she blames her skill ; 
The bluntness of her shafts she fears, 
And try them on herself she will. 

Take heed, sweet Nymph, try not thy shaft, 
Each little touch will prick the heart ; 
Alas ! thou knowest not Cupid's craft. 
Revenge is joy, the end is smart. 

Yet try she will, and prick some bare. 
Her hands were glov'd, and next to hand 
Was that fair breast, that breast so rare, 
That made the shepherd senseless stand. 

That breast she prick'd, and through that breast 
Love finds an entry to her heart ; 
At feeling of this new-come guest, 
Lord, how the gentle Nymph doth start ! 



ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANIES. 507 

She runs not now, she shoots no more ; 
Away she throws both shafts and bow ; 
She seeks for that she shunn'd before, 
She thinks the shepherd's haste too slow. 

Though mountains meet not, lovers may ; 
So others do, and so do they : 
* The God of Love sits on a tree, 

And laughs that pleasant sight to see. 

Anon., but attributed to 'A. W.' 

A Sonnet of the Moon. 

Look how the pale Queen of the silent night 
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her, 
And he as long as she is in his sight, 
With his full tide is ready her to honour : 
But when the silver waggon of the Moon 
Is mounted up so high he cannot follow, 
The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan, 
And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow ; 
So you, that are the sovereign of my heart, 
Have all my joys attending on your will ; 
My joys low-ebbing when you do depart. 
When you return, their tide my heart doth fill ; 
So as you come, and as you do depart, 
Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart. 

Charles Best. 

Sonnet. 

Were I as base as is the lowly plain. 

And you, my love, as high as heaven above. 

Yet should the thoughts of me your humble swain 

Ascend to heaven in honour of my love. 

Were I as high as heaven above the plain, 

And you, my love, as humble and as low 

As are the deepest bottoms of the main, 

Wheresoe'er you were, with you my love should go. 



5o8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Were you the earth, dear love, and I the skies, 
My love should shine on you like to the sun, 
And look upon you with ten thousand eyes. 
Till heaven waxed blind, and till the world were done. 
Wheresoe'er I am, below, or else above you, 
Wheresoe'er you are, my heart shall truly love you. 

y. Sylvester. 

A Hymn in praise of Neptune. 

Of Neptune's empire let us sing, 
At whose command the waves obey ; 
To whom the rivers tribute pay, 
Down the high mountains sliding ; 
To whom the scaly nation yields 
Homage for the crystal fields 

Wherein they dwell ; 
And every sea-god pays a gem 
Yearly out of his wat'ry cell. 
To deck great Neptune's diadem. 

The Tritons dancing in a ring. 

Before his palace gates do make 

The water with their echoes quake, 

Like the great thunder sounding : 

The sea nymphs chant their accents shrill, 

And the Syrens taught to kill 

With their sweet voice, 

Make every echoing rock reply. 

Unto their gentle murmuring noise. 

The praise of Neptune's empery. 

T. Campion. 

Of Corinna's Singing. 

When to her lute Corinna sings. 

Her voice revives the leaden strings, 

And doth in highest notes appear 

As any challenged echo clear. 

But when she doth of mourning speak. 

E'en with her sighs the strings do break. 



ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANIES. 509 

And as her lute doth live and die, 

Led by her passions, so must I : 

For when of pleasure she doth sing, 

My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring ; 

But if she do of sorrow speak. 

E'en from my heart the strings do break. 

T. Campion. 



Madrigal. 

(In praise of Two.) 

Faustina hath the fairest face, 
And Phillida the better grace ; 

Both have mine eye enriched : 
This sings full sweetly with her voice ; 
Her fingers make so sweet a noise : 

Both have mine ear bewitched. 
Ah me ! sith Fates have so provided, 
My heart, alas ! must be divided. 



Madrigal. 

My Love in her attire doth show her wit, 

It doth as well become her ; 

For every season she hath dressings fit, 

For winter, spring, and summer. 

No beauty she doth miss 

When all her robes are on ; 

But Beauty's self she is 

When all her robes are gone. 



GEORGE CHAPMAN. 



[Born, probably, at Hitchin (1557? 1559?). 'Was sent (1574?) to the 
University, but whether first to this of Oxon or to that of Cambridge is to 
me unknown' (Antony Wood). Published The Shadow of Night (1594), 
Ovid's Banquet 0/ Sense (1595), De Guiana, Carmen Epicuni (1596), Hero 
and Leander (1598), Seven Books of Homer s Iliad (1598), Achilles' Shield 
(1598), Euthyi7iiae Raptus, or The Tears of Peace, with Interlocutions (1609), 
Homer's Tetith Booh of his Iliads (1609), Epicedium, or a Funeral Song, in 
memory of Henry, Prince of Wales (161 2), Homer's Iliads in English (1611, 
1 61 2), First Twelve Books of the Odyssey (1614), Twentyfour Books of Homer s 
Odisses (1614, 1615), The Whole Works of Homer (1616), The Crowne of all 
Homer's Workes, Batrachomyomachia, &c. (1624?). Chapman was also 
author of many plays. Died May 12, 1634.] 

In spite of the force and originality of English dramatic poetry 
in the age of Shakespeare, the poetical character of the time had 
much in common with the Alexandrian epoch in Greek literary 
histor}'. At Alexandria, when the creative genius of Greece was 
almost spent, literature became pedantic and obscure. Poets 
desired to show their learning, their knowledge of the details of 
mythology, their acquaintance with the more fantastic theories of 
contemporary science. The same faults mark the poetry of the 
Elizabethan age, and few writers were more culpably Alexandrian 
than George Chapman. The spirit of Callimachus or of Lycophron 
seems at times to have come upon him, as the hitin was supposed 
to whisper ideas extraordinarily good or evil, to Corneille. When 
under the influence of this possession, Chapman displayed the 
very qualities and unconsciously translated the language of Calli- 
machus. He vowed that he detested popularity, and all that can 
please ' the commune reader.' He inveighed against the ' invidious 
detractor' who became a spectre that dogged him in every enter- 
prise. He hid his meaning in a mist of verbiage, within a labyrinth 



CHAPMAN. 5" 

of conceits, and himself said, only too truly, about the ' sweet 
Leander ' of Marlowe, 

'I in floods of ink 
Must dro\vn thy graces.' 

It is scarcely necessary to justify these remarks by illustrations 
from Chapman's works. Every reader of the poems and the 
prefaces finds barbarism, churlish temper, and pedantry m pro- 
fusion. In spite of unpopularity, Chapman 'rested as resolute as 
Seneca, satisfying himself if but a few, if one, or if none like his 

verses. 

Why then is Chapman, as it were in his own despite, a poet 
still worthy of the regard of lovers of poetry ? The answer is 
partly to be found in his courageous and ardent spirit, a spirit 
bitterly at odds with life, but still true to its own nobility, still 
capable, in happier moments, of divining life's real significance, 
and of asserting lofty truths in pregnant words. In his poems we 
find him moving from an exaggerated pessimism, a pessimism 
worthy of a Romanticist of 1830, to more dignified acquiescence 
in human destiny. The Shadow of Night, his earhest work, 
expresses, not without affectation and exaggeration, his blackest 
mood. Chaos seems better to him than creation, the undivided 
rest of the void is a happier thing than the crowded distractions 
of life. Night, which confuses all in shadow and rest, is his 
Goddess, 

' That eagle-lilce doth with her starry wings, 

Beat in the fowls and beasts to Somnus' lodgings, 

And haughty Day to the infernal deep, 

Proclaiming silence, study, ease, and sleep.' 

As for day, 

' In hell thus let her sit, and never rise. 
Till morns leave blushing at her cruelties.' 

In a work published almost immediately after The Shadow 0/ 
Night, in Ovid's Banquet of Sense, Chapman ' consecrates his 
strange poems to those searching spirits whom learning hath 
made noble.' Nothing can well be more pedantic than the con- 
ception of the Banquet of Sense. Ovid watches Julia at her 
bath, and his gratification is described in a singular combination 
of poetical and psychological conceits. Yet in this poem, the 
redeeming qualities of Chapman and the soothing influence of 



512 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

that anodyne which most availed him in his contest with life, are 
already evident. Learning is already beginning to soothe his 
spirit with its spell. To Learning, as we shall see, he ascribed all 
the excellences which a modern critic assigns to culture. Learn- 
ing, in a wide and non-natural sense, is his staj', support, and 
comfort. In the Banquet of Sense, too, he shows that patriotic 
pride in England, that enjoyment of her beauty, which dignify the 
Carmen Epicum, de Gtiiana, and appear strangely enough in 
the sequel oi Hero and Leander. There are exquisite lines in the 
Banquet of Sense, like these, for example, which suggest one of 
Giorgione's glowing figures : — 

' She lay at length like an immortal &oiil, 
At endless rest in blest Elysium.^ 

But Chapman's interest in natural science breaks in unseasonably — ■ 

' Betwixt mine eye and object, certain lines 
Move in the figure of a pyramis, 
Whose chapter in mine eyes gray apple shines. 
The base within my sacred object is ; ' 

— singular reflections of a lover by his lady's bower ! 

Chapman could not well have done a rasher thing than ' suppose 
himself executor to the unhappily deceased author of Hero and 
Leander. A poet naturally didactic, Chapman dwelt on the im- 
propriety of Leander's conduct, and confronted him with the 
indignant goddess of Ceremony. In a passage which ought to 
interest modern investigators of Ceremonial Government, the 
poet makes 'all the hearts of deities' hurry to Ceremony's 

feet :— 

'She led Religion, all her body was 
Clear and transparent as the purest glass ; 
Devotion, Order, State, and Reverence, 
Her shadows were ; Society, Memory ; 
All which her sight made live, her absence die.' 

The allegory is philosophical enough, but strangely out of place. 
The poem contains at least one image worthy of Marlowe — 

' Ilis most kind sister all his secrets knew. 
And to her, singing like a shower, he flew.' 

This too, of Hero, might have been written by the master of 
verse : — 



CHAPMAN. Ti I ' 



' Her fresh heat blood cast figures in her eyes, 
And she supposed she saw in Neptune's skies 
How her star wander"d, washed in smarting brine, 
For her love's sake, that with immortal wine 
Should be embathed, and swim in more heart's-easc, 
Than there was water in the Sestian seas.' 

It is in The Tears of Peace (1609), an allegory addressed to 
Chapman's patron, the short-lived Henry, Prince of Wales, that 
the poet does his best to set forth his theory of life and morality. 
He 'sat to it,' he says, to his ' criticism of life,' and he was guided 
in his thoughts by his good genius. Homer. Inspired by Homer, 
he rises above himself, his peevishness, his controversies, his angry 
contempt of popular opinion, and he beholds the beauty of renun- 
ciation, and acquiesces in a lofty stoicism : — 

' Free suffering for the truth makes sorrow sing. 
And mourning far more sweet than banquetting.' 

He comforts himself with the belief that Learning, rightly under- 
derstood, is the remedy against discontent and restlessness : — 

'For Learning's truth makes all life's vain war cease.' 

It is Learning that 

' Turns blood to soul, and makes both one calm man.' 

By Learning man reaches a deep knowledge of himself, and of 
his relations to the world, and ' Learning the art is of good hfe' : — 

* het all men judge, who is it can de»y 
That the rich crown of old Humanity 
Is s/ill your birthright f and was neer let down 
From heaven for rule of beasts' lives, but your own?* 

These noble words still answer the feverish debates of the day, 
for, whatever our descent, 

' Still, at the worst, we are the sons of men ! ' 

In this persuasion. Chapman can consecrate his life to his work, 
can cast behind him fear and doubt, 

' This glass of air, broken with less than breath, 
This slave bound face to face to death till death.' 
VOL. I. L I 



514 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

His work was that which the spirit of Homer put upon him, in the 
green fields of Hitchin. 

' There did shine, 
A beam of Homer's freer soul in mine,' 

he says, and by virtue of that beam, and of his devotion to 
Homer, George Chapman still lives. When he had completed his 
translations he could say, 

' The work that I was born to do, is done.' 

Learning and work had been his staff through life, and had won 
him immortality. But for his Homer, Chapman would only be 
remembered by professional students. His occasional inspired 
lines would not win for him many readers. But his translations 
of the IHad and Odyssey are masterpieces, and cannot die. 

Chapman's theory of translation allowed him great latitude. 
He conceived it to be 'a pedantical and absurd affectation to turn 
his author word for word,' and maintained that a translator, 
allowing for the different genius of the Greek and English tongues, 
'must adorn' his original 'with words, and such a style and form 
of oration, as are most apt for the language into which they are 
converted.' This is an unlucky theory, for Chapman's idea of 
'the style and form of oration most apt for' English poetry was 
remote indeed from the simplicity of Homer. The more he 
admired Homer, the more Chapman felt bound to dress him up 
in the height of rhetorical conceit. He excused himself by the 
argument, that we have not the epics as Homer imagined them, 
that ' the books were not set together by Homer.' He probably 
imagined that, if Homer had had his own way with his own works, 
he would have produced something much more in the Chapman 
manner, and he kindly added, ever and anon, a turn which he 
fancied Homer would approve. The English reader must be on 
his guard against this custom of Chapman's, and must remember, 
too, that the translator's erudition was exceedingly fantastic. Thus 
Chapman derives the difficult word dX(pr]a-Ti)s from the letter «A<^o, 
the first in the Greek alphabet, and decides that the men whom 
Homer calls dA(/)?jo-Tat, are what modern slang calls 'A i men.' 
Again, he names the Phoenician who seduced the nurse of 
Eumaeus, ' a great-wench-net-layer,' a word derived by him from 
jToXviraiwaXot, thus, ' naXevo, periraho in retia, et naU, pud la.'' 
He is full of these strange philological theories, and he boldly 



CHAPMAN. 51 ; 



lets them loose in his translations. Chapman has another great 
fault, allied indeed to a great excellence. In his speed, in the 
rapidity of the movement of his lines, he is Homeric. The last 
twelve books of the Iliad w&re. struck out at a white heat, in fifteen 
weeks. Chapman was carried away by the current of the Homeric 
verse, and this is his great saving merit. Homer inspires him, 
however uncouth his utterance, as Apollo inspired the Pythoness. 
He 'speaks out loud and bold,' but not clear. In the heat of his 
hurry. Chapman flies at any rhyme to end his line, and then his 
rhyme has to be tagged on by the introduction of some utterly 
un-Homeric mode of expression. Thus, in Chapman, the majestic 
purity of Homer is tormented, the bright and equable speed of 
the river of verse leaps brawling over rocks and down narrow 
ravines. What can be more like Chapman, and less like Homer, 
than these lines in the description of the storm, 

' How all the tops he bottoms with the deeps, 
And in the bottoms all the tops he steeps ' ? 

Here the Greek only says 'Zeus hath troubled the deep.' It is 
thus that Chapman ' adorns his original.' Faults of this kind are 
perhaps more frequent in the Iliad than in the Odyssey. Cole- 
ridge's taste was in harmony with general opinion when he pre- 
ferred the latter version, with its manageable metre, to the ruder 
strain of the Iliad, of which the verse is capable of degenerating 
into an amble, or dropping into a trot. The crudities, the in- 
appropriate quaintnesses of Chapman's Homer, are visible enough, 
when we read only a page or two, here and there, in the work. 
Neither Homer, nor any version of Homer, should be studied 
piece-meal. ' He must not be read,' as Chapman truly says, ' for 
a few lines with leaves turned over capriciously in dismembered 
fractions, but throughout ; the whole drift, weight, and height of 
his works set before the apprehensive eyes of his judge.' Thus 
read, the blots on Chapman's Homer almost disappear, and you 
see 'the massive and majestic memorial, where for all the flaws 
and roughnesses of the weather-beaten work the great workmen 
of days unborn would gather to give honour to his name.' 

A. L.\XG. 



Ll 2 



r,i6 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Thames. 

[From Ovid's Banquet of Sense i\ 

Forward and back and forward went he thus, 
Like wanton Thamysis that hastes to greet 
The brackish court of old Oceanus ; 
And as by London's bosom she doth fleet, 

Casts herself proudly through the bridge's twists, 
Where, as she takes again her crystal feet, 

She curls her silver hair like amourists, 
Smooths her bright cheeks, adorns her brow with ships, 
And, empress-like, along the coast she trips. 

Till coming near- the sea, she hears him roar, 
Tumbling her churlish billows in her face. 
Then, more dismay'd than insolent before, 
Charged to rough battle for his smooth embrace, 

She croucheth close within her winding banks, 
And creeps retreat into her peaceful palace ; 

Yet straight high-flowing in her female pranks 
Again she will be wanton, and again, 
By no means staid, nor able to contain. 

[From The Tears of Peace ^ 

The Spirit of Homer. 

* I am,' said he, ' that spirit Elysian, 
That in thy native air, and on the hill 
Next Hitchin's left hand, did thy bosom fill 
With such a flood of soul, that thou wert fain, 
With exclamations of her rapture then, 
To vent it to the echoes of the vale ; 
When, meditating of me, a sweet gale 
Brought me upon thee ; and thou didst inherit 
My true sense, for the time then, in my spirit ; 



CHAPMAN. 5 1 7 



And I, invisibly, went prompting thee 

To those fair greens where thou didst English me.' 

Scarce he had utter'd this, when well I knew 
It was my Prince's Homer ; whose dear view 
Renew'd my grateful memory of the grace 
His Highness did me for him ; which in face 
Methought the Spirit show'd, was his delight, 
And added glory to his heavenly plight : 
Who told me, he brought stay to all my state ; 
That he was Angel to me, Star, and Fate ; 
Advancing colours of good hope to me ; 
And told me my retired age should see 
Heaven's blessing in a free and harmless life, 
Conduct me, thro' earth's peace-pretending strife, 
To that true Peace, whose search I still intend, 
And to the calm shore of a loved end. 

The Procession of Time. 

Before her flew Affliction, girt in storms, 

Gash'd all with gushing wounds, and all the forms 

Of bane and misery frowning in her face ; 

Whom Tyranny and Injustice had in chase ; 

Grim Persecution, Poverty, and Shame ; 

Detraction, Envy, foul Mishap and lame ; 

Scruple of Conscience ; Fear, Deceit, Despair ; 

Slander and Clamour, that rent all the air ; 

Hate, War, and Massacre ; uncrowned Toil ; 

And Sickness, t' all the rest the base and foil. 

Crept after ; and his deadly weight, trod down 

Wealth, Beauty, and the glory of a Crown. 

These usher'd her far off ; as figures given 

To show these Crosses borne, make peace with heaven. 

But now, made free from them, next her before ; 

Peaceful and young, Herculean Silence bore 

His craggy club ; which up aloft, he hild ; 

With which, and his fore-finger's charm he still'd 

All sounds in air ; and left so free mine ears, 

That 1 might hear the music of the spheres, 



5i8 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

And all the angels singing out of heaven ; 
Whose tunes were solemn, as to passion given ; 
For now, that Justice was the happiness there 
For all the wrongs to Right inflicted here. 
Such was the passion that Peace now put on ; 
And on all went ; when suddenly was gone 
All light of heaven before us ; from a wood. 
Whose light foreseen, now lost, amazed we stood, 
The sun still gracing us ; when now, the air 
Inflamed with meteors, we discover'd fair, 
The skipping goat ; the horse's flaming mane ; 
Bearded and trained comets ; stars in wane ; 
The burning sword, the firebrand-flying snake ; 
The lance ; the torch ; the licking fire ; the drake ; 
And all else meteors that did ill abode ; 
The thunder chid ; the lightning leap'd abroad ; 
And yet when Peace came in all heaven was clear. 
And then did all the horrid wood appear, 
Where mortal dangers more than leaves did grow ; 
In which we could not one free step bestow, 
For treading on some murther'd passenger 
Who thither was, by witchcraft, forced to err : 
Whose face the bird hid that loves humans best ; 
That hath the bugle eyes and rosy breast, 
And is the yellow Autumn's nightingale. 



Helen on the Rampart. 

[From Iliad III.] 

They reach'd the Scaean towers, 
Where Priam sat, to see the fight, with all his counsellors ; 
Panthous, Lampus, Clytius, and stout Hicetaon, 
Thymoetes, wise Antcnor, and profound Ucalegon ; 
All grave old men ; and soldiers they had been, but for age 
Now left the wars ; yet counsellors they were exceeding sage. 
And as in well-grown woods, on trees, cold spiny grasshoppers J 
Sit chirping, and send voices out, that scarce can pierce our ears ■ 



CHAPMAN. 519 



For softness, and their weak faint sounds ; so, talking on the tower, 
These seniors of the people sate ; who when they saw the power 
Of beauty, in the queen, ascend, even those cold-spirited peers. 
Those wise and almost wither'd men, found this heat in their years. 
That they were forced (through whispering) to say : ' What man 

can blame 
The Greeks and Trojans to endure, for so admired a dame, 
So many miseries, and so long ? In her sweet countenance shine 
Looks like the Goddesses'. And yet (though never so divine) 
Before we boast, unjustly still, of her enforced prize, 
And justly suffer for her sake, wnth all our progenies, 
Labour and ruin, let her go ; the profit of our land 
Must pass the beauty.' Thus, though these could bear so fit 

a hand 
On their affections, yet, when all their gravest powers were used, 
They could not choose but welcome her, and rather they accused 
The gods than beauty. 



The Camp at Night. 

[From Iliad VIH.] 

The winds transferr'd into the friendly sky 
Their supper's savour ; to the which they sat dehghtfully. 
And spent all night in open field ; fires round about them shined. 
As when about the silver moon, when air is free from wind, 
And stars shine clear, to whose sweet beams, high prospects, 

and the brows 
Of all steep hills and pinnacles, thrust up themselves for shows, 
And even the lowly valleys joy to glitter in their sight. 
When the unmeasured firmament bursts to disclose her light, 
And all the signs in heaven are seen, that glad the shepherd's 

heart ; 
So many fires disclosed their beams, made by the Trojan part, 
Before the face of I lion, and her bright turrets show'd. 
A thousand courts of guard kept fires, and every guard allow'd 
Fifty stout men, by whom their horse eat oats and hard white corn, 
And all did wishfully expect the silver-throned morn. 



5^0 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The grief of Achilles for the slaying of Patroclus, 
Menoetius' Son, 

[From Iliad XVIII.] 

They fought still like the rage of fire. And now Antilochus 

Came to ^acides, whose mind was much solicitous 

For that which, as he fear'd, was fall'n. He found him near 

the fleet 
With upright sail-yards, uttering this to his heroic conceit : 
*Ay me, why see the Greeks themselves, thus beaten fi-om 

the field, 
And routed headlong to their fleet ? O let not heaven yield 
Effect to what my sad soul fears, that, as I was foretold. 
The strongest Myrmidon next me, when I should still behold 
The sun's fair light, must part with it. Past doubt Menoetius' son 
Is he on whom that fate is wrought. O wretch, to leave undone 
What I commanded ; that, the fleet once freed of hostile fire, 
Not meeting Hector, instantly he should his powers retire.' 

As thus his troubled mind discoursed, Antilochus appear'd. 
And told with tears the sad news thus : ' My lord, that must 

be heard 
Which would to heaven I might not tell ; Menoetius' son lies dead, 
And for his naked corse (his arms already forfeited, 
And worn by Hector) the debate is now most vehement.' 

This said, grief darken'd all his powers. With both his hands 
he rent 
The black mould from the forced earth, and pour'd it on his head, 
Smear'd all his lovely face ; his weeds, divinely fashioned. 
All filed and mangled ; and himself he threw upon the shore, 
Lay, as laid out for funeral, then tumbled round, and tore 
His gracious curls. His ecstasy he did so far extend. 
That all the ladies won by him and his now slaughter'd friend. 
Afflicted strangely for his plight, came shrieking from the tents. 
And fell about him, beat their breasts, their tender lineaments 
Dissolved with sorrow. And with them wept Nestor's warlike son, 
I'"cll by him, holding his fair hands, in fear he would have done 



CHAPMAN. 



His person violence ; his heart, extremely straiten'd, bum'd, 
Beat, swell'd, and sigh'd as it would burst. So terribly he mourn'd, 
That Thetis, sitting in the deeps of her old father's seas, 
Heard, and lamented. 



Hermes in Calypso's Island. 

[From Odys-ey F.] 

Thus charged he ; nor Argicides denied, 
But to his feet his fair wing'd shoes he tied, 
Ambrosian, golden ; that in his command 
Put either sea, or the unmeasured land. 
With pace as speedy as a puft of wind. 
Then up his rod went, with which he declined 
The eyes of any waker, when he pleased, 
And any sleeper, when he wish'd, diseased. 

This took, he stoop'd Pieria, and thence 
Glid through the air, and Neptune's confluence 
Kiss'd as he flew, and check'd the waves as light 
As any sea-mew in her fishing flight 
Her thick wings sousing in the savoury seas, 
Like her, he pass'd a world of wilderness ; 
But when the far-oflf isle he touch'd, he went 
Up from the blue sea to the continent. 
And reach'd the ample cavern of the Queen, 
Whom he found within ; without seldom seen. 
A sun-like fire upon the hearth did flame ; 
The matter precious, and divine the frame ; 
Of cedar cleft and incense was the pile, 
That breathed an odour round about the isle. 
Herself was seated in an inner room, 
Whom sweetly sing he heard, and at her loom. 
About a curious web, whose yarn she threw 
In with a golden shittle. A grove grew 
In endless spring about her cavern round, 
With odorous cypress, pines, and poplars crown'd. 



52 2 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Where hawks, sea-owls, and long-tongued bittours bred, 

And other birds their shady pinions spread ; 

All fowls maritimal ; none roosted there. 

But those whose labours in the waters were. 

A vine did all the hollow cave embrace, 

Still green, yet still ripe bunches gave it grace. 

Four fountains, one against another, pour'd 

Their silver streams ; and meadows all enflower'd 

With sweet balm-gentle, and blue violets hid, 

That deck'd the soft breasts of each fragrant mead. 

Should any one, though he immortal were, 

Arrive and see the sacred objects there, 

He would admire them, and be over-joy'd ; 

And so stood Hermes' ravish'd powers employ'd. 

But having all admir'd, he enter'd on 
The ample cave, nor could be seen unknown 
Of great Calypso (for all Deities are 
Prompt in each other's knowledge, though so far 
Sever'd in dwellings) but he could not see 
Ulysses there within ; without was he 
Set sad ashore, where 'twas his use to view 
Th' unquiet sea, sigh'd, wept, and empty drew 
His heart of comfort. 



Odysseus' Speech to Nausicaa, 

[From Odyssey VI.'] 

All in flight 
The virgins scatter'd, frighted with this sight, 
About the prominent windings of the flood. 
All but Nausicaa fled ; but she fast stood : 
Pallas had put a boldness in her breast, 
And in her fair limbs tender fear comprest. 
And still she stood him, as resolved to know 
What man he was ; or out of what should grow 
His strange repair to them. And here was he 
Put to his wisdom ; if her virgin knee 



CHAPMAN. 523 



He should be bold, but kneeling, to embrace ; 

Or keep aloof, and try with words of grace. 

In humblest suppliance, if he might obtain 

Some cover for his nakedness, and gain 

Her grace to show and guide him to the town. 

The last he best thought, to be worth his own, 

In weighing both well ; to keep still aloof, 

And give with soft words his desires their proof ; 

Lest, pressing so near as to touch her knee. 

He might incense her maiden modesty. 

This fair and filed speech then shew'd this was he 

' Let me beseech, O queen, this truth of thee, 
Are you of mortal, or the deified race? 
If of the Gods, that th' ample heavens embrace, 
I can resemble you to none above 
So near as to the chaste-bom birth of Jove, 
The beamy Cynthia. Her you full present. 
In grace of every God-like lineament. 
Her goodly magnitude, and all th' address 
You promise of her very perfectness. 
If sprung of humans, that inhabit earth. 
Thrice blest are both the authors of your birth ; 
Thrice blest your brothers, that in your deserts 
Must, even to rapture, bear delighted hearts, 
To see, so like the first trim of a tree. 
Your form adorn a dance. But most blest he, 
Of all that breathe, that hath the gift t' engage 
Your bright neck in the yoke of marriage, 
And deck his house with your commanding merit. 
I have not seen a man of so much spirit, 
Nor man, nor woman, I did ever see. 
At all parts equal to the parts in thee. . 
T' enjoy your sight, doth admiration seize 
My eyes, and apprehensive faculties. 
Lately in Delos (with a charge of men 
Arrived, that render'd me most wretched then, 
Now making me thus naked) I beheld 
The burthen of a palm, whose issue swell'd 
About Apollo's fane, and that put on 



524 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

A grace like thee ; for Earth had never none 

Of all her sylvan issue so adorn'd. 

Into amaze my very soul was turn'd, 

To give it observation ; as now thee 

To view, O virgin, a stupidity 

Past admiration strikes me, join'd with fear 

To do a suppliant's due, and press so near, 

As to embrace thy knees. 

The Song the Sirens sung. 

[From Odyssey XII.'] 

' Come here, thou worthy of a world of praise, 
That dost so high the Grecian glory raise ; 
Ulysses ! stay thy ship, and that song hear 
That none pass'd ever but it bent his ear, 
But left him ravish'd, and instructed more 
By us, than any ever heard before. 
For we know all things whatsoever were 
In wide Troy labour'd ; whatsoever there 
The Grecians and the Trojans both sustain'd 
By those high issues that the Gods ordain'd. 
And whatsoever all the earth can show 
T' inform a knowledge of desert, we know.' 

Odysseus reveals himself to his Father. 

[From Ody.sey XX I V.] 

All this haste made not his staid faith so free 
To trust his words ; who said : 'If you are he. 
Approve it by some sign.' ' This scar then see,' 
Replied Ulysses, 'given me by the boar 
Slain in Parnassus ; I being sent before 
By yours and by my honour'd mother's will, 
To see your sire Autolycus fulfil 
The gifts he vow'd at giving of my name. 
I '11 tell you, too, the trees, in goodly frame 



CHAPMAN^ 

Of this fair orchard, that I ask'd of you 

Being yet a child, and follow'd for your show, 

And name of ever)' tree. You gave me then 

Of fig-trees forty, apple-bearers ten, 

Pear-trees thirteen, and fifty ranks of vine ; 

Each one of which a season did confine 

For his best eating. Not a grape did grow 

That grew not there, and had his heavy brow 

When Jove's fair daughters, the all-ripening Hours, 

Gave timely date to it.' This charged the powers 

Both of his knees and heart with such impression 

Of sudden comfort, that it gave possession 

Of all to trance ; the signs were all so true ; 

And did the love that gave them so renew. 

He cast his arms about his son and sunk, 

The circle slipping to his feet ; so shrunk 

Were all his age's forces with the fire 

Of his young love rekindled. The old sire 

The son took up quite lifeless. But his breath 

Again respiring, and his soul from death 

His body's powers recovering, out he cried, 

And said : ' O Jupiter ! I now have tried 

That still there live in heaven remembering Gods 

Of men that serve them ; though the periods 

They set on their appearances are long 

In best men's sufferings, yet as sure as strong 

They are in comforts ; be their strange delays 

Extended never so from days to days. 

Yet see the short joys or the soon-fix'd fears 

Of helps withheld by them so many years : 

For if the wooers now have paid the pain 

Due to their impious pleasures, now again 

Extreme fear takes me, lest we straight shall sec 

The Ithacensians here in mutiny; 

Their messengers dispatch'd to win to friend 

The Cephallenian cities.' 



525 



MICHAEL DRAYTON. 



[Michael Drayton was bom at Hartshull in Warwickshire about the 
year 1563. He died on the 23rd of December, 1631, and lies buried in 
Westminster Abbey. In 1591 he published The Harmony of the Church, 
which was for some unknown reason refused a licence, and has never been 
reprinted till recently. It was followed hy Idea and The Pastorals, 1593; 
Mortimeriados (the Barons' Wars"), 159^; The Heroical Epistles (one had 
been separately printed 159S); The Owl, 1604; L^^^e^ffs of Cromwell and 
others, 1607-1613; Polyolbion (first eighteen books 1612, whole 1622); The 
Battle of Agincourt, 1626 ; besides minor works at intervals.] 

The sentence which Hazlitt allots to Drayton is perhaps one of 
the inost felicitous examples of short metaphorical criticism. 
' His mind,' says the critic, 'is a rich marly soil that produces an 
abundant harvest and repays the husbandman's toil ; but few 
flaunting flowers, the garden's pride, grow in it, nor any poisonous 
weeds.' Such figurative estimates must indeed always be in some 
respects unsatisfactory, yet in this there is but little of inadequac. 
It is exceedingly uncommon for the reader to be transported 
by anything that he meets with in the author of the Polyolbion. 
Drayton's jewels five words long are of the rarest, and their sparkle 
when they do occur is not of the brightest or most enchanting 
lustre. But considering his enormous volume, he is a poet of 
surprisingly high merit. Although he has written some fifty or 
sixty thousand lines, the bulk of them on subjects not too favour- 
able to poetical treatment, he has yet succeeded in giving to the 
whole an unmistakeably poetical flavour, and in maintaining that 
flavour throughout. The variety of his work, and at the same time 
the unfailing touch by which he lifts that work, not indeed into 
the highest regions of poetry, but far above its lower confines, are 
his most remarkable characteristics. The Polyolbiott, the Heroical 
Epislles, the Odes, the Ballad of Agincourt, and the Nyinphidia 
are strikingly unlike each other in the qualities required for sue- 



DRAYTON. 527 



cessful treatment of them, yet they are all successfully treated. It 
is something to have written the best war song in a language, 
its best fantastic poem, and its only topographical poem of real 
value. Adverse criticism may contend that the Nymphidia and 
the Polyolbion were not worth thie doing, but this is another 
matter altogether. That the Ballad of Agmcotirt was not worth 
the doing, no one who has any fondness for poetry or any appre- 
ciation of it will attempt to contend. In the lyric work of the 
Odes, scanty as it is, there is the same evidence of master)' and of 
what may be called thoroughness of workmanship. Exacting 
critics may indeed argue that Drayton has too much of the 
thoroughly accomplished and capable workman, and too little 
of the divinely gifted artist. It may be thought, too, that if he 
had written less and concentrated his efforts, the average merit of 
his work would have been higher. There is, at any rate, no doubt 
that the bulk of his productions, if it has not interfered with their 
value, has interfered with their popularity. 

The Barons' Wars, which, according to some theories, should 
have been Drayton's best work, is perhaps his worst. The stanza, 
which he has chosen for good and well-expressed reasons, is an 
effective one, and the subject might have been made interesting. 
As a matter of fact it has but little interest. The somewhat ' kite- 
and-crow ' character of the disturbance chronicled is not relieved 
by any vigorous portraiture either of Mortimer or of Edward of of 
the Queen. The first and last of these personages are much better 
handled in the Heroical Epistles. The level of these latter and 
of the Legends is decidedly high. Not merely do they contain 
isolated passages of great beauty, but the general interest of them 
is well sustained, and the characters of the writers subtly dif- 
ferenced. One great qualification which Drayton had as a writer 
of historical and geographical verse was his possession of what 
has been called, in the case of M. Victor Hugo, la science des novis. 
No one who has an ear can fail to recognise the felicity of the 
stanza in Agincourt which winds up with ' Ferrars and Fanhope,' 
and innumerable examples of the same kind occur elsewhere. 
Without this science indeed the Polyolbion would have been 
merely an awkward gazetteer. As it is, the * strange herculean 
task,' to borrow its author's description of it, has been very happily 
performed. It may safely be assumed that very few living English- 
men have read it through. But those who have will probably 
agree that there is a surprising interest in it, and that this interest 



528 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

is kept up by a. very artful admixture of styles and subjects. 
Legends, fancy pieces such as that of the Marriage of Thame and Isis, 
with its unmatched floral description, accounts of rural sports and 
the like, ingeniously divei'sify the merely topographical narrative. 
Had the Polyolbion been its author's only work. Goldsmith's sneer 
would still have been most undeserved. But the variety of 
Drayton's performance is almost as remarkable as its bulk. This 
variety it is impossible to represent fully either in this notice or in 
the extracts which accompany it. But to the foregoing remarks it 
may be added that Drayton was master of a very strong and at 
the same time musical decasyllabic line. His practice in Alexan- 
drines and in complicated stanzas seems to have by no means 
injured his command of the ordinary heroic couplet. His series 
of Sonnets to Idea is perhaps his least successful work if we com- 
pare him with other men, just as TJic Barons' Wars is his worst 
performance if his own work only be considered. The Nymphidia 
has received higher praise than any other of his poems, and its 
fantastic conception and graceful tripping metre deserve this praise 
well enough. The curious poems of The Owl and The Man in the 
Moon show, if they show nothing else, his peculiar faculty of raising 
almost any subject to a certain poetical dignity by dint of skilful 
treatment. Lastly, his prose Prefaces deserve attention here, be- 
cause many of them display the secret of his workmanlike skill. 
It is evident from them that Drayton was as far as possible from 
holding the false and foolish improvisation-theory of poetry, and 
they testify to a most careful study of his predecessors and con- 
temporaries, and to deliberate practice in the use of the poet's tools 
of language and metre. 

G. Saintsbury. 



Drayton: 529 



Queen Margaret to William de la Pool, 
Duke of Suffolk. 

What news (sweet Pool) look'st thou my hnes should tell 
But like the tolling of the doleful bell 
Bidding the deaths-man to prepare the grave ? 
Expect from me no other news to have. 
My breast, which once was mirth's imperial throne, 
A vast and desert wilderness is grown : 
Like that cold region, from the world remote, 
On whose breem seas the icy mountains float ; 
Where those poor creatures, banished from the light, 
Do hve impris'ned in continual night. 
No object greets my soul's internal eyes 
But divinations of sad tragedies : 
And care takes up her solitary inn 
Where youth and joy their court did once begin. 
As in September, when our year resigns 
The glorious sun to the cold wat'ry signs 
Which through the clouds looks on the earth in scorn ; 
The little bird yet to salute the morn 
Upon the naked branches sets her foot. 
The leaves then lying on the mossy root, 
And there a silly chirriping doth keep 
As though she fain would sing, yet fain would weep, 
Praising fair Summer, that too soon is gone, 
Or sad for Winter, too fast coming on : 
In this strange plight I mourn for thy depart, 
Because that weeping cannot ease my heart. 
Now to our aid who stirs the neighb'ring kings ? 
Or who from France a puissant army brings? 
Who moves the Norman to abet our war? 
Or brings in Burgoyne to aid Lancaster? 
Who in the North our lawful claim commends 
To win us credit with our valiant friends ? 
VOL. I. M m 



530 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

To whom shall I my secret griefs impart ? 

Whose breast shall be the closet of my heart? 

The ancient heroes' fame thou didst revive, 

As from them all thyself thou didst derive : 

Nature by thee both gave and taketh all, 

Alone in Pool she was too prodigal ; 

Of so divine and rich a temper wrought, 

As Heav'n for thee perfection's depth had sought. 

Well knew King Henry what he pleaded for, 

When he chose thee to be his orator ; 

Whose angel-eye, by powerful influence. 

Doth utter more than human eloquence : 

That if again Jove would his sports have tried, 

He in thy shape himself would only hide ; 

Which in his love might be of greater pow'r, 

Than was his nymph, his flame, his swan, his show'r. 



To THE Cambro-Britons and their Harp, 
HIS Ballad of Agincourt. 

Fair stood the wind for France, 
When we our sails advance, 
Nor now to prove our chance 

Longer will tarry ; 
But putting to the main, 
At Caux, the mouth of Seine, 
With all his martial train. 

Landed King Harry. 

And taking many a fort, 
Furnished in warlike sort, 
Marcheth tow'rds Agincourt 

In happy hour ; 
Skirmishing day by day. 
With those that stopp'd his way, 
Where the French gen'ral lay 

With all his power. 



DRAYTON. 531 



Which in his height of pride, 
King Henry to deride, 
His ransom to provide 

To the king sending. 
Which he neglects the while, 
As from a nation vile, 
Yet with an angry smile 

Their fall portending. 

And turning to his men, 
Quoth our brave Henry then. 
Though they to one be ten, 

Be not amazed. 
Yet have we well begun. 
Battles so bravely won. 
Have ever to the sun 

By fame been raised. 

And for myself (quoth he), 
This my full rest shall be, 
England ne'er mourn for me, 

Nor more esteem me. 
Victor I will remain. 
Or on this earth lie slain, 
Never shall she sustain 

Loss to redeem me. 

Poitiers and Cressy tell. 

When most their pride did swell. 

Under our swords they fell. 

No less our skill is. 
Than when our grandsire-great, 
Claiming the regal seat. 
By many a warlike feat 

Lopp'd the French lilies. 

The Duke of York so dread 
The eager vaward led, 
With the main, Henry sped, 
Amongst his hench-men. 
M m 2 



532 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Exeter had the rear, 
A braver man not there, 
O Lord, how hot they were, 
On the false Frenchmen ! 

They now to fight are gone, 
Armour on armour shone, 
Drum now to drum did groan. 

To hear, was wonder ; 
That with the cries they make, 
The very earth did shake, 
Trumpet to trumpet spake, 

Thunder to thunder. 

Well it thine age became, 
O noble Erpinghatn, 
Which didst the signal aim 

To our hid forces ; 
When from a meadow by, 
Like a storm suddenly, 
The English archery 

Stuck the French horses. 

With Spanish yew so strong, 
Arrows a cloth-yard long, 
That like to serpents stung, 

Piercing the weather ; 
None from his fellow starts. 
But playing manly parts, 
And like true English hearts, 

Stuck close together. 

When down their bows they threw. 
And forth their bilbos drew. 
And on the French they flew, 

Not one was tardy ; 
Arms were from shoulders sent. 
Scalps to the teeth were rent, 
Down the French peasants went, 

Our men were hardy. 



DRAYTON. 533 

This while our noble king, 
His broad sword brandishing, 
Down the French host did ding, 

As to o'erwhelm it, 
And many a deep wound lent. 
His arms with blood besprent, 
And many a cruel dent 

Bruised his helmet. 

Gloucester, that duke so good, 
Next of the royal blood. 
For famous England stood. 

With his brave brother ; 
Clarence, in steel so bright. 
Though but a maiden knight, 
Yet in that furious fight 

Scarce such another, 

Warwick in blood did wade, 
Oxford the foe invade. 
And cruel slaughter made. 

Still as they ran up ; 
Suffolk his axe did ply, 
Beaumont and Willoughby, 
Bare them right doughtily, 

Ferrers and Fanhope. 

Upon Saint Crispin's day 
Fought was this noble fray, 
Which fame did not delay 

To England to carry; 
O when shall English men, 
With such acts fill a pen, 
Or England breed again 

Such a King Harry? 



534 77/^ ENGLISH POETS. 



The Arming of Pigwiggen. 

[From Nyrnphidia.'] 

(He) quickly arms him for the field, 
A little cockle-shell his shield, 
Which he could very bravely wield, 

Yet could it not be pierced : 
His spear a bent both stiff and strong, 
And well near of two inches long ; 
The pile was of a horsefly's tongue. 

Whose sharpness naught reversed. 

And put him on a coat of mail. 

Which was of a fish's scale. 

That when his foe should him assail, 

No point should be prevailing. 
His rapier was a hornet's sting, 
It was a very dangerous thing ; 
For if he chanc'd to hurt the king, 

It would be long in healing. 

His helmet was a beetle's head, 
Most horrible and full of dread. 
That able was to strike one dead, 

Yet it did well become him : 
And for a plume a horse's hair, 
W'hich being tossed by the air, 
Had force to strike his foe with fear, 

And turn his weapon from him. 

Himself he on an earwig set. 

Yet scarce he on his back could get. 

So oft and high he did curvet 

Ere he himself could settle : 
He made him turn, and stop, and bound. 
To gallop, and to trot the round. 
He scarce could stand on any ground, 

He was so full of mettle. 



DRA YTON. 535 



From ' Polyolbion.' 

[Song XV. 1. 147.] 

The Naiads and the nymphs extremely overjoy'd, 

And on the winding banks all busily employ'd, 

Upon this joyful day, some dainty chaplets twine : 

Some others chosen out, with fingers neat and fine, 

Brave anadems do make : some baldrics up do bind : 

Some, garlands : and to some the nosegays were assigned 

As best their skill did serve. But for that Thame should be 

Still man-like as himself, therefore they will that he 

Should not be drest with flowers to garden that belong 

(His bride that better fit), but only such as sprung 

From the replenish'd meads and fruitful pastures near. 

To sort which flowers, some sit, some making garlands were ; 

The primrose placing first, because that in the spring 

It is the first appears, then only flourishing ; 

The azur'd hare-bell next with them they neatly mix'd, 

T' allay whose luscious smell they woodbind plac'd betwixt. 

Amongst those things of scent, there prick they in the lily : 

And near to that again her sister daffodilly. 

To sort these flowers of show, with th' other that were sweet, 

The cowslip then they couch, and the oxlip for her meet ; 

The columbine amongst they sparingly do set. 

The yellow kingcup wrought in many a curious fret, 

And now and then among, of eglantine a spray. 

By which again a course of lady-smocks they lay : 

The crow-flower, and thereby the clover flower they stick, 

The daisy, over all those sundry sweets so thick, 

As Nature doth herself to imitate her right : 

Who seems in that her pearl so greatly to delight, 

That every plain therewith she powd'reth to behold : 

The crimson darnel flowers, the blue-bottle and gold, 

Which though esteem'd but weeds, yet for their dainty hues, 

And for their scent not ill, they for this purpose choose. 



536 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



Thus having told you now the bridegroom Thame was drest, 

I'll show you how the bride fair Isis was invest; 

Sitting to be attired under her bower of state, 

Which scorns a meaner sort than fits a princely rate, 

In anadems, for whom they curiously dispose 

The red, the dainty white, the goodly damask rose ; 

For the rich rub)'^, pearl, and amethyst, men place 

In kings' imperial crowns, the circle that enchase. 

The brave carnation then, with sweet and sovereign power 

(So of his colour call'd, although a July flower). 

With th* other of his kind, the speckled and the pale : 

Then th' odoriferous pink, that sends forth such a gale 

Of sweetness ; yet in scents as various as in sorts. 

The purple violet then, the pansy there supports : 

The marj'gold above t' adorn the arched bar : 

The double daisy, thrift, the button-bachelor. 

Sweet-william, sops-in-wine, the campion : and to these 

Some lavender they put, with rosemary and bays : 

Sweet marjoram, with her like, sweet basil rare for smell. 

With m^any a flower, whose name were now too long to tell : 

And rarely with the rest, the goodly fleur-de-lis. 



JOSEPH HALL. 



[Joseph Hall, successively Bishop of Exeter and Norwich, was born 
July 1st, 1574, at Bristow Park, near Ashby de la Zouch, in Leicestershire. 
His prose writings, which are very voluminous, have gained him the title 
of the Christian Seneca. His polemical works brought him into collis'on 
with Milton ; his sermons rank among the most eloquent in our language ; 
his characters of Virtues and Vices were the delight of Lamb ; and his 
Occasional Meditations still maintain their popularity. He terminated a 
life of much usefulness and many troubles at Higham, near Norwich, Sep- 
tember 8th, 1656, in the eighty-second year of his age. As a poet Hall is 
known only by his Satires, which were written when he was a very young 
man. They came out in two instalments, the first of which was entitled 
Virgidemiarum, Fir^t three Bookes of Toolhlesse Satyrs — Poetical, Academical, 
Moral, and appeared in 1597; the second, entitled Virgidemiarum, The three 
Last Bookes of Byting Satyrs, were published in the following year. Both 
parts were reprinted in 1599, and again in 1602.] 

Hall boasts that he was the first English satirist. This is not 
true. To say nothing of the fathers of our tongue, and of the 
satires of Barklay, Skelton, Roye, and Gascoigne, he had been 
anticipated in his own walk by Thomas Lodge, whose Fig for 
MoDius appeared in 1593. Hall has however a higher claim to 
praise. He was the founder of a great dynasty of satirists. He 
made satire popular, and he determined its form. Marston imme- 
diately succeeded him as his disciple ; the author oi Skialetheia, the 
author oi Microcynicojt, and innumerable other anonymous satirists 
followed in rapid succession, till we reach Donne and Jonson, 
Wither and Marvel, Dryden and Oldham. In all these poets 
the influence of Hail is either directly or indirectly perceptible. 
Dryden had in all probability perused him with care, and Pope 
was so sensible of his merits that he not only carefully interlined 
his copy of Hall, but expressed much regret that he had not been 
acquainted with his Satires sooner. 

Hall's abilities, not only as a satirist, but as a descriptive writer 
and as a master of style, are of a high order. His models were, he 



538 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

tells us, Horace, Juvenal, and Persius. With the first he has little 
in common ; he has none of his sobriety, none of his grace, none 
of his urbanity. To the influence of the third is to be attributed 
his most characteristic defect, obscurity, an obscurity which arises 
not from confusion or plethora of thought, but from affectation 
in expression, from archaic phraseology, from unfamiliar com- 
binations, from recondite allusions, from elliptical apostrophes, and 
from abrupt transitions. To Juvenal his obligations were great 
indeed. He borrows his phrases, his turns, his rhetorical exaggera- 
tions, his trick of allusive and incidental satire, his reflections, his 
whole method of dealing with and delineating vice. But borrow- 
ing he assimilates. Hall's satire is distinguished by its vehemence 
and intrepidity. He has himself described the savage delight 
with which he applied himself to satirical composition, and every 
fervid page testifies the truth of his confession. He never seems 
to flag : his energy and fertility of invective are inexhaustible. 
He has in his six books bared and lashed every vice in the long and 
dreary catalogue of human frailty ; but the reader, soon surfeited, 
is glad to leave him to pursue his ungrateful task alone. Nor is 
Hall more attractive when painting the minor foibles of mankind ; 
for his humour is hard, his touch heavy, and his wit saturnine. As 
a delineator of men and manners he will always be interesting. 
His Satires are a complete picture of English society at the end 
of the sixteenth century. His sketches are vivid and singularly 
realistic, for he has the rare art of being minute without being 
prolix, of crowding without confusing his canvas ; and he united 
the faculty of keen observation to great natural insight. History 
is indeed almost as much beholden to him as satire. 

His style is, for the age at which his poems appeared, wonderful. 
Though marred by the defects to which we have referred, it is as 
a rule at once energetic and elegant, at once fluent and felicitous, 
at once terse and ornate. He carried the heroic couplet almost 
to perfection. His versification is indeed sometimes so voluble 
and vigorous, that we might, as Campbell well observed, imagine 
ourselves reading Dryden. To cull one or two examples : — 

' Fond fool ! six feet shall serve for all thy store, 
And he that cares for most shall find no more.' 

'Nay, let the Devil and .St. Valentine 
Be gossips to those ribald rhymes of thine, 
And each day dying lives, and living dies.* 



HALL. 539 

He is the first of our authors to evince decided powers of epi- 
grammatic expression, and to diversify the heroic couplet by 
the introduction of the triplet. It is much to be regretted that 
Hall's most vigorous and most successful writing is of such 
a character as makes it impossible to be presented to general 
readers in our day. The conclusion of the first satire of the 
fourth book, and of the fourth satire of the same book, are pas- 
sages in question. In consulting the interests of propriety we 
are, we must add, not consulting the interests of Hall's fame as 
a satirist, though the shade of a Father of the Church will we 
trust forgive the injury. 

Besides these Satires he was the author of a few miscellaneous 
poems, chiefly of a religious and elegiac character, but they are 
not of much value. 

J. Churton Collins. 



540 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



The Golden Age. 

[From Book iii. Satire i.] 

Time was, and that was termed the time of gold, 
When world and time were young that now are old 
(When quiet Saturn swayed -the mace of lead, 
And pride was yet unborn, and yet unbred). 
Time was, that whiles the autumn fall did last, 
Our hungry sires gap'd for the falling mast 

Of the Dodonian oaks. 
Could no unhusked acorn leave the tree 
But there was challenge made whose it might be. 
And if some nice and licorous appetite 
Desir'd more dainty dish of rare delight, 
They scal'd the stored crab with clasped knee 
Till they had sated their delicious eye : 
Or search'd the hopeful thicks of hedgy rows 
For briery berries, or haws, or sourer sloes. 
Or when they meant to fare the fin'st of all. 
They lick'd oak-leaves bespread with honey-fall. 
As for the thrice three-angled beech-nut shell, 
Or chestnut's armed husk and hid kernell. 
No squire durst touch, the law would not afford. . 
Kept for the court, and for the king's own board, 
Their royal plate was clay, or wood, or stone : 
The vulgar, save his hand, else he had none. 
Their only cellar was the neighbour brook ; 
None did for better care, for better look ; 
Was then no plaining of the brewer's scape, 
Nor greedy vintner mix'd the strained grape. 
The king's pavilion was the grassy green 
Under safe shelter of the shady trecn. 
Under each bank men laid their limbs along, 
Not wishing any ease, not fearing wrong, 
Clad with their own as they were made of old, 
Not feeling shame nor feeling any cold. 



HALL. 541 

Hollow Hospitality. 

[From Book iii. Sat. 3.] 

The courteous citizen bade me to his feast 

With hollow words, and overly ' request : 

'Come, will ye dine with me this holiday?' 

I yielded, though he hop'd I would say nay: 

For I had maiden'd it, as many use ; 

Loath for to grant, but loather to refuse. 

' Alack, sir, I were loath — another day, — 

I should but trouble you ; — pardon me, if you may.' 

No pardon should I need ; for, to depart 

He gives me leave, and thanks too, in his heart. 

Two words for money, Darbyshirian wise : 

(That's one too many) is a naughty guise. 

Who looks for double biddings to a feast. 

May dine at home for an importune guest. 

I went, then saw, and found the great expense ; 

The face and fashions of our citizens. 

Oh, Cleopatrical ! what wanteth there 

For curious cost, and wondrous choice of cheer ? 

Beef, that erst Hercules held for finest fare ; 

Pork, for the fat Boeotian, or the hare 

For Martial ; fish for the Venetian ; 

Goose-liver for the licorous Roman ; 

Th' Athenian's goat ; quail, lolaus' cheer ; 

The hen for Esculape, and the Parthian deer ; 

Grapes for Arcesilas", figs for Pluto's mouth, 

And chestnuts fair for Amarillis' tooth. 

Hadst thou such cheer? wert thou ever there before? 

Never, — I thought so : nor come there no more. 

Come there no more ; for so meant all that cost : 

Never hence take me for thy second host. 

For whom he means to make an often guest, 

One dish shall serve ; and welcome make the rest. 

Superficial. ^ Plutarch, Muralia 668 a, calls Aixcsilaus ([>(.K60oTpvs. 



542 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



A Coxcomb. 

[From Book iii. Sat. 5.] 

Late travelling along in London way 

Me met, as seen by his disguised array, 

A lusty courtier, whose curled head 

With abron ' locks was fairly furnished. 

I him saluted in our lavish wise ; 

He answers niy untimely courtesies : 

His bonnet vailed, ere ever he could think 

The unruly wind blows off his periwinke. 

He lights and runs and quickly hath him sped 

To overtake his overrunning head. 

The sportful wind, to mock the headless man, 

Tosses apace his pitched Rogerian "^ : 

And straight it to a deeper ditch hath blown ; 

There must my yonker fetch his waxen crown. 

I looked and laughed, whiles in his raging mind 

He cursed all courtesy and unruly wind. 

I looked and laughed, and much I marvelled 

To see so large a causeway on his head, 

And me bethought, that when it first begon 

'Twas some shrewd autumn that so bared the bone. 

Is't not sweet pride, when men their crowns must shade 

With that which jerks the hams of every jade. 

Or floor-strewed locks from off the Barber's shears ? 

But wa.xen crowns well 'gree with borrowed hairs. 

A Deserted Mansion. 

[From Book v. Sat. 2.] 
Beat the broad gates, a goodly hollow sound 
With double echoes doth again rebound ; 
But not a dog doth bark to welcome thee, 
Nor churlish porter canst thou chafing see ; 
All dumb and silent, like the dead of night, 
Or dwelling of some sleepy Sybarite. 
The marl)le pavement hid with desert weed. 
With houseleck, thistle, dock, and hemlock seed : 
* Auburn. " A nickname for a false scalp. 



HALL. 543 

But if thou chance cast up thy wondering eyes, 

Thou shalt discern upon the frontispiece 

OYAEI2 EISITO^ graven up on high, 

A fragment of old Plato's poesy : 

The meaning is, ' Sir Fool, ye may be gone, 

Go back by leave, for way here lieth none.' 

Look to the towered chimneys, which should be 

The windpipes of good hospitality. 

Through which it breathcth to the open air, 

Betokening life, and liberal welfare ; 

Lo there the unthankful swallow takes her rest, 

And fills the tunnel with her circled nest ; 

Nor half that smoke from all his chimneys goes 

Which one tobacco pipe drives through his nose. 

So rawbone hunger scorns the mudded walls, 

And 'gins to revel it in lordly halls. 

Advice to Marry betimes. 

[From Book iv. Sat. 4.] 

Wars, God forfend ! nay God defend from war ; 

Soon are sons spent, that not soon reared are. 

Gallio may pull me roses ere they fall, 

Or in his net entrap the tennis ball. 

Or tend his spar-hawk mantling in her mew, 

Or yelping beagles' busy heels pursue, 

Or watch a sinking cork upon the shore. 

Or halter finches through a privy door. 

Or list he spend the time in sportful game, 

In daily courting of his lovely dame. 

Hang on her lips, melt in her wanton eye. 

Dance in her hand, joy in her jollity: 

Here's little peril, and much lesser pain. 

So timely Hymen do the rest restrain. 

Hie wanton Gallio and wed betime. 

Why should'st thou lose the pleasures of thy prime ? 

Seest thou the rose leaves fall ungathered ? 

Then hie thee, wanton Gallio, to wed. 

^ • Let no man enter.' 



JOHN MARSTON. 



[Marston has been identified with an Oxford man of that name who was 
admitted B.A. in 1593, and with Maxton or Mastone, 'the new poet' men- 
tioned in Henslowe's Diary in 1599. But nothing is known of his private 
life. He published The Metamorphosis of Pygmaliori s Image and Certain 
Satires in 1598, and The Scourge of Villany, Three Books of Satires, in the 
same year. He was conjoined with Chapman and Jonson in the composi- 
tion of the play called Eastivard Ho ! which had unpleasant consequences 
for its authors, and he wrote several plays by himself, the dates of which 
range from 1602 to 161 3.] 

If we were asked whether Marston should be classed as a satirist 
or as a dramatist, it would be difficult to give a satisfactory answer. 
His plays are full of satiric power, and his satires are not without 
evidences of the dramatist's way of looking at life. The personages 
of his dramas, though boldly and fully pourtrayed, are set up as 
types of base or noble humanity, to be vehemently disliked or liked. 
The author is far from being impartial in his exhibition of their 
character ; the reader seems to be aware of him standing by with 
a stern moral purpose to emphasize their vices and their virtues. 
In his satires, on the other hand, he has a habit of turning round 
upon himself which may truly be called dramatic. He rails, and 
then rails at himself for railing ; pours forth torrents of abuse upon 
the objects of his dislike, — dancing, fencing, sonnetteering dandies, 
apish scholars, pedants, gulls, perfumed inamoratos, — the vices, 
the effeminacies, the affectations of the time, — and then vituperates 
himself no less roundly as a vile, snarling, canker-eaten, rusty 
cur, who will rake everything into his tumbril, and cannot see 
good in anything. The Elizabethan time was too large and full- 
blooded, too full of sanguine aspiration, of prosperous bustle and 
variety, to be favourable to the production of satire. It was not 
sufficiently out of temper with itself to encourage the satirist. 
Marston's so-called satires are rather wild buffooneries, than the 



MARSTON. 645 



offspring of deep-seated and savage indignation. Though the 
language is strong enough to warrant the idea that he was much 
offended by the profligacy and apish fopperies of the gilded youth 
of the time, and he makes himself out to be a terrible cynic, ' who 
cannot choose but bite,' he does not really bite, but only belabours 
with a clown's cudgel of inflated skin. 

The eloquence of Hall's satires makes one hesitate to say that 
the language had not then been developed into a fitting instrument 
for polished satire, but, however this may be, Marston made no 
attempt at rapier-like thrusts of cynical wit. He guffawed at 
Hall's ' worthless satires,' and the graceful archaism of his style, 
which seemed to him as contemptible as any of the minor vices 
which the satirist undertook to expose. Hall in one of his satires 
expressed a wish that he could use the freedom of speech of the 
ancient satirists. Marston gratified this wish without scruple, to 
such an extent that he has been stigmatised as the most filthy and 
scurrilous writer of his time. To the first of these epithets Marston 
has some claim, but to call him scurrilous conveys an imputation 
of ill-nature which would be most undeserved. That he could 
write better things than the coarse, rugged, furious, ribald, broadly- 
humorous couplets which he called satires, and which he estimated 
himself at their true value, when he took his ' solemn conge of this 
fusty world,' may be seen by any one who consults Charles Lamb's 
extracts from his plays, or better still, the plays themselves. 

W. MiNTO. 



VOL. I. N n 



546 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



To Detraction. 

Foul canker of fair virtuous action, 

Vile blaster of the freshest blooms on earth, 

Envy's abhorred child, Detraction, 

I here expose to thy all-tainting breath 

The issue of my brain ; snarl, rail, bark, bite, 
Know that my spirit scorns Detraction's spite. 

Know that the Genius, which attendeth on 

And guides my powers intellectual. 

Holds in all vile repute Detraction. 

My soul — an essence metaphysical, 

That in the basest sort scorns critics' rage 
Because he knows his sacred parentage — 

My spirit is not puff'd up with fat fume 
Of slimy ale, nor Bacchus' heating grape ; 
My mind disdains the dungy muddy scum 
Of abject thoughts and Envy's raging hate. 
'True judgment slight regards Opinion, 
A sprightly wit disdains Detraction.' 

A partial praise shall never elevate 

My settled censure of my own esteem ; 

A canker'd verdict of malignant hate 

Shall ne'er provoke me, worse myself to deem. 

Spite of despite, and rancour's villany, 

I am myself, so is my poesy. 



To Everlasting Oblivion. 

Thou miglity gulf, insatiate cormorant ! 

Deride me not, though 1 seem petulant 
To fall into thy chops. Let others pray 
For ever their fair poems flourish may, 



1 



MARSTON. 547 



But as for me, hungry Oblivion 
Devour me quick. Accept my orison, 

My earnest prayers, which do importune thee 
With gloomy shade of thy still empery 
To veil both me and my rude poesy. 
Far worthier lines, in silence of thy state, 
Do sleep securely, free from love or hate ; 
From which this living ne'er can be exempt, 
But whilst it breathes, will hate and furj' tempt. 
Then close his eyes with thy all-dimming hand. 
Which not right-glorious actions can withstand ; 
Peace, hateful tongues ; I now in silence pace, 
Unless some hound do wake me from my place. 
I with this sharp, yet well-meant poesy 
Will sleep secure, right free from injury 
Of cankered hate, or rankest villainy. 



N n 2 



SIR JOHN DAVIES. 



[Born at Tisbury, Wiltshire, and educated at Winchester and New 
College, Oxford. After a somewhat riotous youth, he gained the friend- 
ship and patronage of Lords Mountjoy and Ellesmere, and became Solicitor- 
and Attorney-General for Ireland under James. On the dismissal of Chief 
Justice Crew by Charles I in Nov. 1626, Sir John Davies, who had dis- 
tinguished himself by zealous championship of anti-popular views, was 
appointed his successor. He did not live however to enter upon the 
office, dying suddenly of apoplexy in the following month. The Orchestra, 
or a Poeme of Dauticing was licensed 1593, published 1596; Nosce Teipsuni 
was published 1599 ; Hymns to Astraea 1599. Davies was a contributor to 
England's Helicon (1600) and to Davi^ons Poetical Rhapsody (1602). An 
edition of his works appeared in 1622, and a modern complete edition, con- 
taining hitherto unpublished matter, was made by Mr. Grosart in 1869 
(republished 1876).] 

Sir John Davies belongs to that late Elizabethan circle of courtly 
poets which still gathered round the declining age of the great 
Queen with apparently as much personal devotion as the circle of 
Sidney and Spenser had gathered round her prime. His Nosce 
Te/'psHin, published in 1599, was dedicated 

* To that clear majesty which in the North 
Doth like another sun in glory rise ; ' 

and the Hymns to Astraea, which appeared in the same year, may 
be ranked as one of the most readable and freely written expres- 
sions of that complex sentiment toward the Queen of which each 
considerable Elizabethan poet became in turn the mouthpiece. 
This later group is to be distinguished on the one hand from the 
earlier lyrical and pastoral school, and on the other from the great 
dramatic circle which crowds the foreground of this second period. 
Its production was reflective and philosophical, and only occasion- 
ally and subordinately either lyrical or dramatic. It testified to 
revolt against pastorals and love poetry, but no member of it was 



S/A' JOHN DA VIES. 549 

possessed of a sufficiently great or pliant genius to achieve any 
important triumph outside the older and well-worn fashions. Lord 
Brooke in point of power reigns supreme among these philoso- 
phers in verse, but Sir John 'D^ivxe's Nosce Teipsuin enjoyed a wider 
contemporary reputation than anything of Lord Brooke's, and has 
been far more frequently read since. It is a strange performance, 
and is to be admired rather for the measure of victory it obtains 
over unfavourable conditions, than for any absolute poetical merits. 
Some handbook of Christian philosophy seems to have fallen in 
the author's way during a year of retii'ement at Oxford, — possibly 
the De Natitra HoiniJiis of Nemesius, of which Wither published 
an English translation in 1636, — and the text suited a sobered 
mood, while it offered an opportunity for rehabilitating a reputation 
shaken by youthful folly and extravagance. Accordingly the 
Nosce Teipsuin was produced, an ' oracle expounded in two 
Elegies — (i) of Human Knowledge ; (2) of the Soul of Man and 
the Immortality thereof.' It is an exposition in the verse of 
Gondibert and the Anmts Mirabilis of what Davies himself calls 
the ' received opinions,' the orthodox metaphysic of his time, and 
treats such topics as ' what the soul is ; ' ' that the soul is more 
than the Temperature of the Humors of the Body;' 'that the soul 
is created immediately by God ;' ' the vegetative or Quickening 
power ;' 'the power of sense, the Relations between wit and will,' 
&c. (S:c. All these interminable and tremendous subjects are 
indeed handled with admirable clearness and- brevity. Where Lord 
Brooke would have wandered on to unmeasured length, thinking 
his way from cloud to clearness with laborious sincerity, Sir John 
Davies, a man of far inferior temper and morale, plays the artist 
with his inartistic material, clearly foresees his end, maps out his 
arguments and ' acclamations,' and infuses just so much imagina- 
tion and so much eloquence as will carry the subject to the ears it 
is intended to reach. Hallam said of Nosce Teipsuni that it 
scarcely contained a languid verse. It may be said of it with 
equal truth that it scarcely contains a verse of real energy, and 
that it shows not a spark of that genuine poetic gift which at rare 
intervals lightens the most heavy and formless of Lord Brooke's 
Treatises. Nothing in Davies' smoothly turned and occasionally 
eloquent introduction to his subject proper, ' The Elegy of Human 
Knowledge,' has the poetic flavour of such lines as these, which 
break the monotony of Lord Brooke's Treatise on the same 
subject : — 



550 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



'The chief use then in man of that he l<iiows, 

Is his painstaking for the good of all ; 

Not fleshly weeping for our own-made woes. 

Not laughing from a melancholy gall. 

Not hating from a soul that overflows 

With bitterness, breathed out from inward thrall; 
But sweetly rather to ease, to loose or bind, 
As need requires, this frail fall'n human kind.' 

Expression of this high and tender quality is not to be looked for 
in Nosce Teipston. The poem deals with an eternally poetic 
subject, the longings, griefs, and destiny of the soul, in such a way 
as to furnish one more illustration of the futility of ' philosophical 
poetry,' — of the inanner in which the attempt to combine poetry 
and science extracts all pathos and all influence from the most 
pathetic and the most potent of themes. From this judgment we 
may perhaps exclude the passages, quoted below, which deserve to 
live when the rest of Nosce Teipsum is forgotten. 

Orchestra was a poem of the author's youth, ' a sudden rash 
half-capreol of my wit,' as he calls it in the dedication. It is 
unfinished and immature in style, but there is considerable charm 
in its wandering fancifulness. The graceful and delicate verse 
beginning ' For lo, the sea that fleets about the land ' (p. 556), will 
remind a reader of well-known lines in the Ancient Mariner. In 
one or two other passages Sir John Davies may be suggestively 
matched with modern poets. The resemblance of his 38th Epigram 
to Wordsworth's Power of Music has been already pointed out, and 
a verse of another modern poem, — 

' We see all sights from pole to pole, 
And glance and nod and bustle by, 
And never once possess our soul 
Before we die,' — 

recalls a passage in the Elegy ' Of Human Knowledge ' : — 

* We that acquaint ourselves with every Zone, 
And pass both Tropics, and behold the Poles, 
When we come home are to ourselves unknown. 
And unacquainted still with our own souls.' 

Mary A. Ward. 



S//^ JOHN DAVIES. 551 



The Soul compared to a River, 

[From Nosce TeipsianJ] 

And as the moisture, which the thirsty earth 
Sucks from the sea, to fill her empty veins, 
From out her womb at last doth take a birth, 
And runs a nymph along the grassy plains : 

Long doth she stay, as loth to leave the land, 
From whose soft side she first did issue make ; 
She tastes all places, turns to every hand, 
Her flowr'y banks unwilling to forsake : 

Yet Nature so her streams doth lead and carry, 
As that her course doth make no final stay. 
Till she herself unto the ocean marry, 
Within whose wat'ry bosom first she lay : 

Even so the Soul which in this earthly mould 
The Spirit of God doth secretly infuse ; 
Because at first she doth the earth behold, 
And only this material world she views : 

At first her mother-earth she holdeth dear. 

And doth embrace the world and worldly things 
She flies close by the ground, and hovers here, 
And mounts not up with her celestial wings. 

Yet under heaven she cannot light on ought 
That with her heavenly nature doth agree ; 
She cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought. 
She cannot in this- world contented be : 

For who did ever yet, in honour, wealth. 
Or pleasure of the sense, contentment find ? 
Who ever ceas'd to wish, when he had health ? 
Or having wisdom was not vext in mind ? 



552 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Then as a bee which among weeds doth fall, 

Which seem sweet flowers, with lustre fresh and gay; 
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all, 
But pleas'd with none, doth rise, and soar away ; 

So, when the Soul finds here no true content, 
And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take ; 
She doth return from whence she first was sent, 
And flies to Him that first her wings did make. 



The Soul compared to a Virgin wooed in Marriage. 
[From the Same.] 

As a king's daughter, being in person sought 
Of divers princes, who do neighbour near ; 
On none of them can fix a constant thought, 
Though she to all do lend a gentle ear : 

Yet she can love a foreign emperor. 

Whom of great worth and power she hears to be ; 
If she be woo'd but by ambassador. 
Or but his letters, or his pictures see : 

For well she knows, that when she shall be brought 
Into the kingdom where her spouse doth reign ; 
Her eyes shall see what she conceiv'd in thought, 
Himself, his state, his glory, and his train. 

So while the virgin Soul on earth doth stay, 
She woo'd and tempted is ten thousand ways, 
By these great powers, which on the earth bear sway; 
The wisdom of the world, wealth, pleasure, praise : 

With these sometime she doth her time beguile. 
These do by fits her fantasy possess ; 
But she distastes them all within a while, 
And in the sweetest finds a tediousness. 

But if upon the world's Almighty King 

She once do fix her humble loving thought ; 
Who by His picture, drawn in every thing, 
And sacred messages, her love hath sought ; 



S/H JOHN DA VIES. 553 



Of Him she thinks, she cannot think too much ; 
This honey tasted still, is ever sweet ; 
The pleasure of her ravished thought is such, 
As almost here she with her bliss doth meet : 

But when in Heaven she shall His essence see, 
This is her sovereign good, and perfect bliss : 
Her longings, wishings, hopes all finished be, 
Her joys are full, her motions rest in this. 

There is she crown'd with garlands of content, 
There doth she manna eat, and nectar drink ; 
That Presence doth such high delights present, 
As never tongue could speak, nor heart could think. 

AXTIXOUS PRAISES DANXIXG BEFORE OUEEN PENELOPE. 

[From Orchestra, or A Poenie of Drnmcing.'] 

' For that brave Sun the Father of the Day, 
Doth love this Earth, the Mother of the Night ; 
And like a reveller in rich array, 
Doth dance his galliard in his leman's sight, 
Both back, and forth, and sideways, passing light ; 
His princely grace doth so the gods amaze, 
That all stand still and at his beauty gaze. 

* But see the Earth, when he approacheth near, 

How she for joy doth spring and sweetly smile ; 

But see again her sad and heavy cheer 

When changing places he retires awhile ; 

But those black clouds he shortly will exile, 
And make them all before his presence fly, 
As mists consum'd before his cheerful eye. 
****** 

' And now behold your tender nurse the Air 

And common neighbour that aye runs around ; 

How many pictures and impressions fair 

Within her empty regions are there found ; 

Which to your senses Dancing do propound. 

For what are Breath, Speech, Echos, Music, Winds, 
But Dancings of the Air in sundry kinds ? 



554 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



' For when you breathe, the air in order moves, 
Now in, now out, in time and measure true ; 
And when you speak, so well she dancing loves. 
That doubling oft, and oft redoubling new, 
"With thousand forms she doth herself endue. 
For all the words that from our lips repair 
Are nought but tricks and turnings of the air. 

* Hence is her prattling daughter Echo born. 
That dances to all voices she can hear ; 
There is no sound so harsh that she doth scorn. 
Nor any time wherein she will forbear 
The airy pavement with her feet to wear ; 

And yet her hearing sense is nothing quick, 

For after time she endeth every trick. 

' And thou sweet Music, Dancing's only life, 
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech ; 
Loadstone of fellowship, charming-rod of strife, 
The soft mind's Paradise, the sick mind's leech ; 
With thine own tongue, thou trees and stones canst teach, 
That when the Air doth dance her finest measure, 
Then art thou born, the gods' and men's sweet pleasure. 

' Lastly, where keep the Winds their revelry. 
Their violent turnings, and wild whirling hays \ 
But in the Air's translucent gallery ? 
Where she herself is turn'd a hundred ways. 
While with those Maskers wantonly she plays ; 

Yet in this misrule, they such rule embrace, 

As two at once encumber not the place. 

* If then fire, air, wand'ring and fixed lights 
In every province of the imperial sky. 
Yield perfect forms of dancing to your sights, 
In vain I teach the ear, that which the eye 
With certain view already doth descry. 

But for your eyes perceive not all they sec, 

In this I will your Senses master be. 

' country-dances. 



SIR JOHN DA VIES. 655 

' For lo the Sea that fleets about the Land, 
And like a girdle clips her solid waist, 
Music and measure both doth understand ; 
For his great crystal eye is always cast 
Up to the Moon, and on her fixed fast ; 

And as she danceth in her pallid sphere, 

So danceth he about his Centre here. 

' Sometimes his proud green waves in order set, 

One after other flow unto the shore ; 

Which, when they have with many kisses wet, 

They ebb away in order as before ; 

And to make kno^^^l his courtly love the more. 
He oft doth lay aside his three-forked mace, 
And with his arms the timorous Earth embrace. 

* Only the Earth doth stand for ever still, 
Her rocks' remove not, nor her mountains meet, 
(Although some wits enriched with Learning's skill 
Say heav'n stands firm, and that the Earth doth fleet, 
And swiftly turneth underneath their feet ;) 
Yet though the Earth is ever steadfast seen. 
On her broad breast hath Dancing ever been. 

' For those blue veins that through her body spread, 
Those sapphire streams which from great hills do spring 
(The Earth's great dugs ; for every wight is fed 
With sweet fresh moisture from them issuing ;) 
Observe a dance in their wild wandering ; 
And still their dance begets a murmur sweet, 
And still the murmur with the dance doth meet.' 



556 THE ENGLISH POETS. 



[From Hymnes of Astraea, in Acrostiche Verse^ 

To THE Spring. 
E arth now is green, and heaven is blue, 
L ively Spring which makes all new, 
I oily Spring, doth enter ; 
S weet young sun-beams do subdue 
A ngry, ag^d Winter. 

B lasts are mild, and seas are calm, 
E very meadow flows with balm, 
T he Earth wears all her riches ; 
H armonious birds sing such a psalm, 
A s ear and heart bewitches. 

R eserve (sweet Spring) this Nymph of ours, 

E ternal garlands of thy flowers, 

G reen garlands never wasting : 

I n her shall last our state's fair Spring, 

N ow and for ever flourishing, 

A s long as Heaven is lasting. 

To THE Nightingale. 
E very night from even to morn, 
L ove's Chorister amid the thorn 
I s now so sweet a singer ; 
S o sweet, as for her song I scorn 
Apollo's voice, and finger. 

B ut Nightingale, sith you delight 
E ver to watch the starry night ; 
T ell all the stars of heaven, 
H eaven never had a star so bright, 
A s now to Earth is given. 

R oyal Astraea makes our day 
E ternal with her beams, nor may 
G ross darkness overcome her ; 
I now perceive why some do write, 
N o country hath so short a night, 
A s England hath in Summer. 



SIR JOHN DAVIES. 557 



To THE Month of September. 

E ach month hath praise in some degree ; 
L et May to others seem to be 
I n sense the sweetest Season ; 
S eptember thou art best to me, 
A nd best doth please my reason. 

B ut neither for thy corn nor wine 

E xtol I those mild days of thine, 

T hough corn and wine might praise thee ; 

H eaven gives thee honour more divine, 

A nd higher fortunes raise thee. 

R enown'd art thou (sweet month) for this, 

E mong thy days her birth-day is ; 

G race, plenty, peace and honour 

I n one fair hour with her were born ; 

N ow since they still her crown adorn, 

A nd still attend upon her. 



JOHN DONNE. 



[Born 1573, in London; his mother being a descendant of Sir Thomas 
More. He studied both at Oxford and Cambridge, and also at Lincoln's 
Inn ; travelled in Italy and Spain, ' and returned perfect in their languages.' 
He was afterwards in the service of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere and others, 
and in 1610 was persuaded by James I 'to enter into sacred orders.' In 
1621 the king made him Dean of St. Paul's, and he held other benefices. 
He died in 163 1. Izaak Walton's celebrated Life was prefixed to his Eighty 
Sermons, fol„ T640; and this Life asserts that 'most of his poems were written 
before the twentieth year of his age.' The Poems were collected and first 
published posthumously in 1633 : but Hnrl. MS. 51 10 (British Museum), is 
entitled, 'Jhon Dunne his Satyres anno domini 1593.'] 

Donne's contemporary reputation as a poet, and still more as 
a preacher, was immense ; and a glance at his works would suffice 
to show that he did not deserve the contempt with which he was 
subsequently treated. But yet his chief interest is that he was the 
principal founder of a school which especially expressed and re- 
presented a certain bad taste of his day. Of his genius there can 
be no question ; but it was perversely directed. One may almost 
invert Jonson's famous panegyric on Shakespeare, and say that 
Donne was not for all time but for an age. 

To this school Dr. Johnson has given the title of the Meta- 
physical ; and for this title there is soinething to be said. ' Donne,' 
says Dryden, * affects the metaphysics not only in his Satires, but 
in his amorous verses where Nature only should reign, and perplexes 
the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy when 
he should engage their hearts and entertain them with the soft- 
nesses of love.' Thus he often ponders over the mystery of love, 
and is exercised by subtle questions as to its nature, origin, 
endurance. I5ut a yet more notable distinction of this school than 
its philosophising, shallow or deep, is what may be called its 
fantasticality, its quaint wit, elaborate ingenuity, far-fetched 
allusiveness ; and it might better be called the Ingenious, or 



DONNE. 559 

Fantastic School. Various and out-of-the-way information and 
learnincj is a necessary quahfication for membership. Donne in 
one of his letters speaks of his ' embracing the worst voluptuous- 
ness, an hydroptic immoderate desire of human learning and 
languages.' Eminence is attained by using such stores in the way 
to be least expected. The thing to be illustrated becomes of 
secondary importance by the side of the illustration. The more 
unlikely and surprising and preposterous this is, the greater the 
success. This is wit of a kind. From one point of view, wit, as 
Dr. Johnson says, ' may be considered as a kind o{ discordia concors ; 
a combination of dissimilar images or discovery of occult resem- 
blances in things apparently unlike. Of wit thus defined they 
[Donne and his followers] have more than enough. The most 
heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together ; nature and 
art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions ; 
their learning instructs, and their subtility surprises ; but the 
reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and 
though he sometimes admires is seldom pleased.' 

And so in the following curious passage from Donne's Dedica- 
tion of certain poems to Lord Craven it should be observed how 
' wit ' and ' poetry ' are made to correspond : ' Amongst all the 
monsters this unlucky age has teemed with, I find none so pro- 
digious as the poets of these late times [this is very much what 
Donne's own critics must say], wherein men, as if they would level 
undertakings too as well as estates, acknowledging no inequality 
of parts and judgments, pretend as indifferently to the chair of wit 
as to the pulpit, and conceive themselves no less inspired with the 
spirit of poetry than with that of religion.' Dryden styles Donne 
' the greatest wit though not the best poet of our nation.' 

The taste which this school represents marks other literatures 
besides our own at this time. It was 'in the air' of that age ; and 
so was not originated by Donne. But it was he who in England 
first gave it full expression— who was its first vigorous and effective 
and devoted spokesman. And this secures him a conspicuous 
position in the history of our literature when we remember how 
prevalent was the fashion of 'conceits' during the first half of the 
seventeenth century, and that amongst those who followed it more 
or less are to be mentioned, to say nothing of the earlier poems 
of Milton and Waller and Dryden, Suckling, Denham, Herbert, 
Crashaw, Cleveland, Cowley. 

This misspent learning, this excessive ingenuity, this laborious 



56o THE ENGLISH POETS. 

wit seriously mars almost the whole of Donne's work. For the 
most part we look on it with amazement rather than with pleasure. 
It reminds us rather of a ' pyrotechnic display,' with its unex- 
pected flashes and explosions, than of a sure and constant light 
(compare the Valediction given in our selections). We weary 
of such unmitigated cleverness — such ceaseless straining after 
novelty and surprise. We long for something simply thought, 
and simply said. 

His natural gifts were certainly great. He possesses a real 
energy and fervour. He loved, and he suffered much, and he 
writes with a passion which is perceptible through all his artificiali- 
ties. Such a poem as The Will is evidence of the astonishing 
rapidity and brightness of his fancy. 

He also claims notice as one of our earliest formal satirists. 
Though not published till much later, there is proof that some at 
least of his satires were written three or four years before those of 
Hall. Two of them (ii. and iv.) were reproduced — 'versified' — in 
the last century by Pope, acting on a suggestion by Dryden ; 
No. iii. was similarly treated by Parnell. In these versions, along 
with the roughness of the metre, disappears much of the general 
vigour ; and it should be remembered that the metrical roughness 
was no result of incapacity, but was designed. Thus the charge 
of metrical uncouthness so often brought against Donne on the 
ground of his satires is altogether mistaken. How fluently and 
smoothly he could write if he pleased, is attested over and over 
again by his lyrical pieces. 

John W. Hales. 



DONNE. 561 



Song. 

Go and catch a falling star, 
Get with child a mandrake root, 
Tell me where all times past are, 
Or who cleft the Devil's foot ; 
Teach me to hear mermaids singing, 
Or to keep off envy's stinging. 

And find 

What wind 
Serves to advance an honest mind. 

If thou be'st born to strange sights. 
Things invisible go see, 
Ride ten thousand days and nights 
Till age snow white hairs on thee ; 
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me 
All strange wonders that befell thee, 

And swear 

No where 
Lives a woman true and fair. 

If thou find'st one let me know. 

Such a pilgrimage were sweet ; 

Yet do not, I would not go, 

Though at next door we might meet ; 

Though she were true when you met her, 

And last, when you wrote your letter, 

Yet she 

Will be 
False, ere I come, to two or three. 



A Valediction forbidding Mourning. 

As virtuous men pass mildly away. 
And whisper to their souls to go. 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say, 
' Now his breath goes,' and some say ' No ' 
VOL. I. 00 



562 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

So let us meet and make no noise, 
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move, 
'Twere profanation of our joys, 
To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' Earth brings harm and fears. 
Men reckon what it did and meant ; 
But trepidation of the spheres, 
Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love, 
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove 
The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so far refin'd, 
That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assured of the mind. 
Careless eyes, lips, and hands, to miss ; 

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
Like gold to airy thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so 
As stiff twin compasses are two. 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
Yet when the other far doth roam, 
It leans and hearkens after it, 
And grows erect as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must 
Like th' other foot, obliquely run. 
Thy firmness makes my circle just, 
And maliCij me end where 1 bct^un. 



DONNE. 563 



Song. 



Sweetest love, I do not go 
For weariness of thee, 
Nor in hope the world can show 
A fitter love for me ; 

But since that I 
Must die at last, 'tis best 
Thus to use myself in jest 
By feigned deaths to die. 

Yesternight the Sun went hence 
And yet is here to-day. 
He hath no desire nor sense, 
Nor half so short a way ; 
Then fear not me, 
But believe that I shall make 
Hastier journeys, since I take 
More wings and spurs than he. 

O how feeble is man's power, 
That if good fortune fall, 
Cannot ado another hour. 
Nor a lost hour recall ! 

But come bad chance, 
And we join to 't our strength, 
And we teach it art and length, 
Itself o'er us t' advance. 

When thou sigh'st thou sigh'st not wind, 
But sigh'st my soul away ; 
When thou v/eep'st unkindly kind, 
My life's blood doth decay. 

It cannot be 
That thou lov'st me, as thou say'st ; 
If in thine my life thou waste, 
Thou art the life of me. 
002 



564 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

Let not thy divining heart 
Forethink me any ill, 
Destiny may take my part 
And may thy fears fulfil ; 
But think that we 
Are but laid aside to sleep : 
They who one another keep 
Alive, ne'er parted be. 



From 'Verses to Sir Henry Wootton.' 

Be then thine own home, and in thyself dwell ; 

Inn anywhere ; continuance maketh Hell. 

And seeing the snail, which everywhere doth roam, 

Carrying his own house still, is still at home : 

Follow (for he 's easy pac'd) this snail, 

Be thine own palace, or the world's thy jail. 

But in the world's sea do not like cork sleep 

Upon the water's face, nor in the deep 

Sink like a lead without a line : but as 

Fishes glide, leaving no print where they pass, 

Nor making sound, so closely thy course go ; 

Let men dispute whether thou breathe or no : 

Only in this be no Galenist. To make 

Court's hot ambitions wholesome, do not take 

A dram of country's dulness ; do not add 

Correctives, but as chymics purge the bad. 

But, sir, I advise not you, I rather do 

Say o'er those lessons which I learn'd of you : 

Whom, free from Germany's schisms, and lightness 

Of France, and fair Italie's faithlessness. 

Having from these suck'd all they had of wOrth 

And brought home that faith which you carry'd forth, 

I throughly love : but if myself I've won 

To know my rules, I have, and you have, Donne. 



DONNE. 



The Will. 



565 



Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe, 
Great Love, some legacies ; here I bequeath 
Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see. 
If they be blind, then Love, I give them thee ; 
My tongue to Fame ; to ambassadors mine ears ; 

To women, or the sea, my tears ; 
Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore 
By making me serve her who had twenty more. 
That I should give to none, but such as had too much before. 

My constancy I to the planets give, 

My truth to them who at the court do live ; 

Mine ingenuity and openness 

To Jesuits ; to buffoons my pensiveness ; 

My silence to any, who abroad hath been ; 

My money to a Capuchin. 
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by appointing me 
To love there, where no love receiv'd can be, 
Only to give to such as have an incapacity. 

My faith I give to Roman Catholics ; 
AH my good works unto the schismatics 
Of Amsterdam ; my best civility 
And courtship, to an university ; 
My modesty I give to shoulders bare ; 

My patience let gamesters share. 
Thou, Love, taught'st me, by making me 
Love her that holds my love disparity. 
Only to give to those that count my gifts indignity. 

I give my reputation to those 
Which were my friends ; my industry to foes ; 
To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness ; 
My sickness to physicians, or excess ; 



566 THE ENGLISH POETS. 

To Nature, all that I in rhyme have writ ; 

And to my company my wit ; 
Thou, Love, by making me adore 
Her, who begot this love in me before, 
Taught'st me to make, as though I gave, when I did but restore. 

To him for whom the passing bell next tolls 
I give my physic books ; my written roUs 
Of moral counsels I to Bedlam give ; 
My brazen medals, unto them which live 
In want of bread ; to them which pass among 

All foreigners, my English tongue, 
Thou, Love, by making me love one 
Who thinks her friendship a fit portion 
For younger lovers, dost my gifts thus disproportion. 

Therefore I'll give no more ; but I'll undo 

The world by dying ; because love dies too. 

Then all your beauties will be no more worth 

Than gold in mines, where none doth draw it forth ; 

And all your graces no more use shall have 

Than a sun-dial on a grave. 
Thou, Love, taughtest me, by making me 
Love her, who doth neglect both me and thee, 
To invent and practise this one way to annihilate all three. 



Vols. II, III, and IV of 

THE ENGLISH POETS: 
SELECTIONS, 

WITH CRITICAL INTRODUCTIONS BY VARIOUS WRITERS, 

AND 

A GENERAL INTRODUCTION BY 
MATTHEW ARNOLD. 

EDITED BY 

THOMAS HUMPHRY WARD, M.A. 

The aim of this book is to furnish in a convenient form 
a thoroughly representative selection of English poetry, from 
Chaucer to modern times, excluding the drama and the 
writings of living poets. 

The distinguishing feature is that the work of selection 
and criticism has been entrusted to a number of different 
writers, who have been chosen for their special acquaintance 
with the poets and the periods with which they deal. It is 
hoped that the book may thus claim a degree of authority 
which could not be claimed by any single writer who should 
attempt to cover the whole vast field of English poetry. 

Vol. II, 

Ben Jonson Prof. A. W. Ward. 

Drummond of Hawthornden . The Editor. 
Beaumont and Fletcher . . . A. C. Bradley. 
Browne, Wither and Habington W. T. ARNOLD. 

Herrick, &c E. W. GOSSE. 

Herbert, Crashaw, &c. . . . G. A. SiMCOX. 

Cowley The Editor 

Waller, Denham, &c. ... E. W. GosSE. 

Milton Mark Pattison. 

Marvell Goldwin Smith. 

Minor Restoration poets . . E. W. GosSE. 

Butler W. E. Henley. 

Dryden Prof. A. W. Ward. 

[Turn over. 



In Vols. Ill and IV, which are to be pubUshed immediately, 
the following are the principal subjects : — 

Vol. III. 

Swift Prof. Nichol. 

Gay, Prior, &c Austin Dobson. 

Pope Mark Pattison. 

Allan Ramsay W. MiNTO. 

Thomson G. Saintsbury. 

Akenside Prof. Dowden. 

The Wesleys The Dean of Westminster. 

Collins A. C. Swinburne. 

Gray Matthew Arnold. 

Goldsmith Prof. Dowden. 

Chatterton A. Lang. 

Cowper The Editor. 

Burns Dr. Service. 

Crabbe W. J. Courthope. 

Vol. IV. 

Wordsworth The Dean of St. Paul's. 

Coleridge W. H. Pater. 

Rogers \ 

Southey [ SiR Henry Taylor. 

Campbell ' 

Scott GoLDWiN Smith. 

Moore E. W. GOSSE. 

Byron J. A. Symonds. 

Shelley F. W. H. Myers. 

Keats Matthew Arnold. 

Landor Lord Houghton. 

Hood and Praed AUSTIN DOBSON. 

Kcblc The Dean of Westminster. 

Clough The Editor. 



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