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secretary, two thousand dollars, and a vase in the form of Mount Parnassus with a Pegasus atop of it, inscribed
“A Ronsard, l'Apollon de la source des Muses."
We find, then, that the classical influence which caused Sidney and Spenser to attempt English hexameters and sapphics did not merely proceed from a few English university men. It was part of a much larger movement of the time.*
The queen, Elizabeth, herself wrote verse.† There remains. a translation by her in her girlhood of the chorus closing the second act of Seneca's "Hercules Oetæus." It is in 123 lines of blank verse, not inspired, although it has for theme the little faith in which a prince can trust, vices of courts, and safety of the middle way. Here are some lines of it—
"The weight of sceptre's sway if choice must bear
And hundred thresholds with their feet be smoothed,
One faultless faith her room even scant may claim."
And these are the closing lines—
"Let one full happy be and highly flie,
God shield that mighty one the vulgar call:
* I have used here the sketch of Ronsard by his most intimate friend, Claude Binet, in Archives Curieuses de l'Histoire de France depuis Louis XI. jusqu'a Louis XVIII. Ire Série. Tome x. Paris, 1836.
†The whole of it is given more completely and more accurately than in Park's edition of Walpole's "Royal and Noble Authors" by Dr. Ewald Flügel of Leipzig, in "Anglia," vol. xiv., pp. 346-361 (1891), "Die Gedichte der Königin Elisabeth."
Let no full wind to depth my bark bequeath,
There is also Elizabeth's translation, made in her youth, of the fourteenth Psalm, Dixit insipiens, first printed by Bale, in 1548, at the end of his version of Margaret of Navarre's "Godly Meditatyon of the christen sowle." There are also verses signed "Elisabethe the Prisonner, 1555," beginning
"Oh, Fortune, thy wrestling, wavering state
These were first printed, in 1612, by Paul Hentzner in his Itinerarium Germania, Gallia, Anglia, Italiæ. Elizabeth wrote also an epitaph in fourteen lines beginning, "When the warrior Phoebus go'th to make his round," upon the death of the Princess of Espinoye. It was printed, in 1584, in John Sothern's "Pandora." It was George Puttenham who first printed, in 1589, in his "Arte of Englishe Poesie," Queen Elizabeth's sixteen lines on the dangers threatening her from plots laid by the friends of Mary Stuart. Their date is about 1584—
"The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
Which turns to rage of late repent by changéd course of winds.
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
"It" for "" its," which had not yet come into the language. "Narre," nearer-- where it is nearer to the clouds.
The Daughter of Debate, that discord aye doth sow,
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port,
Our realm brooks not sedition's sects, let them elsewhere resort :
There remain also two love songs written by Queen Elizabeth. They have been ascribed to the time "when she was supposed to be in love with Monsieur," and one of them, beginning with the line, "I grieve and dare not show my discontent," has been also said to be "relative to her passion for the Earl of Essex." Probably both are mere exercises in a fashionable accomplishment, written without any personal allusion. This is one of them
"When I was fair and young, and favour gracéd me,
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore
Importune me no more.'
"How many weeping eyes I made to pine with woe,
Importune me no more.'
"Then spake fair Venus' son, that proud victorious boy,
I will so pluck your plumes that you shall say no more,
Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more."
* Quoted as given in Dr. Flügel's transcript from MS. Rawlinson Poet. 108, which differs in some words from the version in Puttenham. From MS. Rawlinson Poet. 85, Dr. Flügel has printed in 66 'Anglia,' for the first time, the love-song of Elizabeth's beginning, "When I was fayre and yonge.” Her other love-song is in Rawlinson MS. 781 (p. 142), and in Tanner MS. 76 (fol. 94).
"When he had spake these words, such change grew in my breast
That neither night nor day, since that, I could take any
Then, lo, I did repent that I had said before,
'Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,
Importune me no more.
Puttenham quoted also a sentence of Queen Elizabeth's in defiance of Fortune
"Never think you Fortúne can bear the sway
Two scratchings with diamond on window-panes have been ascribed to her, one by Holinshed, who tells how, in 1555, the "ladie Elizabeth, hir departing out from Woodstock, wrote these verses with hir diamond in a glasse window verie legibly as here followeth-
"Much suspected by me *
Nothing prooued can be
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner.'"
The other was her often-quoted answer to Sir Walter Raleigh, according to the account of him in Fuller's "Worthies of Devonshire." When he had written on a window, "Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall," the queen wrote under it, If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all." Her Majesty once also tried her skill at a hexameter, which she is said to have made when coming into a grammar school, and here it is—
"Persius a crabstaff, bawdy Martial, Ovid a fine wag."
Let us return to Spenser.
* By me about me.
OF SPENSER AND RALEIGH UNTIL 1586.
THE year in which it may be supposed that Shakespeare came to London was 1586, his age then being twenty-two. We carry on, therefore, the story of our literature, taking that year as its present limit. It was the year also of the death of Philip Sidney, whose career will be described in the next chapter.
Edmund Spenser, having served the Earl of Leicester in some mission abroad, of which no record remains, but which is likely to have had, as Leicester's missions usually had, some reference to interests of the Protestant cause in Europe, returned to London, and was presently made private secretary to the newly appointed Lord-Deputy for Ireland. The new Deputy was Arthur Lord Grey of Wilton. Arthur, the fourteenth Baron Grey of Wilton, born about the year 1536, was eldest son of the William Lord Grey under whom Thomas Churchyard served in Guines and afterwards in Scotland.* Arthur, then about twenty-two years old, was with his father at Guines when the castle was taken, in January, 1558, and he was one of the hostages given for fulfilment of the conditions of surrender. About two years afterwards, on the fifteenth of April, 1560, he was wounded dangerously in the shoulder by a gunshot while
*E. W." viii. 246.
Our literature before 1586.