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SIR THOMAS WYATT.
With Memoir and Critical Dissertation,
REV. GEORGE GIL FILLAN.
SIR THOMAS WYATT ranks with Henry, Earl of Surrey, as one of the best of our early poets; and with Surrey, Byron, Walpole, and some others, as one of the comparatively few of our aristocracy who have contributed much of value to the stores of English literature. He was descended from an ancient and noble family, which had been settled for several successive generations at Southange, in the county of York. His father, Sir Henry, had been faithful to the cause of the House of Lancaster during its darkest days; had been imprisoned in the Tower by Richard III., and even, it is said, tortured in the Usurper's presence. It is stated by tradition, and is inscribed on his monument in Kent, that, during his imprisonment, a cat brought him daily a pigeon from a neighbouring dove-cot, which served amply to supply his wants! When the sun began to shine on the Lancastrian side of the hedge, Henry VII. did not forget the loyalty of the able, prudent, and wise Sir Henry Wyatt, but appointed him one of his Privy Councillors, and afterwards one of the executors to his will. In the year 1493, we find him rich enough to purchase the estate of Allington, near Maidstone, in Kent, which became the residence of the family; and about the same time he also bought from the Marquis of Dorset the estate and mansion of Mole, lying a little to the east of Maidstone, and which fell afterwards into the possession of the Earl of Romney. After Henry VII.'s death, Wyatt was nominated by the Countess of Richmond one of the council for managing public affairs till the young king was of age; and he con
tinued under Henry VIII. to enjoy many marks of roval distinction. At his coronation on the 23d of July 1549, Wyatt was created a Knight of the Bath; and having great), distinguished himself at the battle of Spurs in August 1513, he was made Knight Banneret on the spot: besides afte. wards acting at one time as Knight Marshall; at another, as Keeper of the King's Jewels; and at a third as Ewerer to His Majesty. In 1502 he married Anne, daughter of John Skinner, of Reigate, in Surrey, and by her had three children—Thomas, the elder Sir Thomas Wyatt, as he is usually denominated, Henry, and Margaret.
The year 1503 was the time, and Allington Castle the place, signalised by the birth of our poet. As to the first twelve years of his life, biography is silent; but it seems probable that he enjoyed the instructions of a private tutor. In 1515 he was entered of St John's, Cambridge. He took his degree of B.A. in 1518, and that of A.M. in 1520. In the same year, when only seventeen, he married Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Brooke, Lord Cobham. In 1525 ha took part in a grand feat of arms which was performed ai Greenwich at Christmas. Wyatt was one of sixteen challengers; and the enterprise began the day after St John the Evangelist's day, and lasted till the 8th of February, whel “every man having journeyed as his course came, and many a sword being broken, and many a good stripe given, and every man having stricken his full number of twelve strokes, the combatants were severed and disarmed, and the achievement closed.” Those who have the opportunity of consulting Hall's Chronicles, will find there a full and glowing picture of this splendid passage of arms, which the graceful and gallant courtesy of the combatants, the quaint titles and devices, the presence of the most beautiful and illustrious ladies,
“Rain influence, and decide the prize ;"
the gorgeous costumes, and the mazy dances, which alternated with the mock fights, must have rendered enchanting -reminding us, in some points, of the “gentle and joyous