Page images
PDF
EPUB

classical poet. He unquestionably is the first polite writer of love-verses in our language.”—He perished on Tower-hill in his thirty-first year, one of the noblest of the many victims immolated by the vindictive tyrant who sent him thither. The only consolation that remains for his death, is, that he and all the nobility of England stood tamely by when Henry began his worst career of cruelty and legalized murder ;

for Surrey, though but a youth of nineteen, attended in an official

capacity at the trial of Anne Boleyn. The romance of his character, the mystery of his passion,

and above all his unjust death in the flower of his age, have thrown an interest around the verse of Surrey which belongs rather to the man than the poet. That criticism would be cold-hearted indeed which would seek to diminish this interest.

A PRISONER IN WINDSOR, HE CALLS TO MIND THE HAPPINESS FORMERLY ENJOYED IN

THE SAME PLACE,

So cruel prison how could betide, alas,

As proud Windsor ! where I, in lust and joy, W’ith 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 sower! The large green courts, where we were wont to

hove, W’ith 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 ;

Where each of us did plead the other's right.

The palm-play, where, despoiled for the game,

With dazed eyes, oft we by gleams of love Have miss'd the ball, and got sight of our dame ;

To bait her eyes which kept the leads above.

The gravel ground, which sleeves tied on the helm, On foaming horse, with swords, and friendly

hearts, With cheer as though one should another whelm : Where we have fought, and chased oft with

darts,

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 avaled, (a) and swift ybreathed horse, With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between,

Where we did chase the fearful hart of force.(6)

The wide vales, eke, that harbour'd us each night,

Wherewith, alas ! reviveth in my breast

(a) Reins dropped.

(6) Chasse à forcer, Fr., is the chase in which the game is run down, in opposition to the chasse à tirer, in which it is shot.

The sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight,

The pleasant dreams, the quiet bed of rest :

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 past the winter night away

O place of bliss, renewer of my woes !

Give me account where is my noble fere, (a) Whom in thy walls thou dost each night enclose,

To other leefe, but unto me most dear.

VERSES TO SPRING,

WHEREIN EACH THING RENEWS, SAVE ONLY THE LOVER.

With green

The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,

hath clad the hill, and eke the vale ; The nightingale, with feathers new, she sings,

The turtle to her mate 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 flings,

The fishes flete, with new repaired scale ;

The adder all her slough away she flings ;

The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale ; The busy bee, her honey now she mings;

Winter is worne, that was the flower's bale :

(a) Companion.

And thus I see, among these pleasant things,
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs !

DESCRIPTION AND PRAISE OF HIS LOVE,

GERALDINE.
From Tuscane came my lady's worthy race ;

Fair Florence was, sometime, her ancient seat; The western isle, whose pleasant shore doth face

Wild Camber's cliffs, did give her lively heat. Foster'd she was with milk of Irish breast;

Her sire an earl; her dame of princes' blood : From tender years, in Britain she doth rest,

With king's child, where she tasteth costly food. Honsdon did first present her to mine ey'n ;

Bright is her hue, and Geraldine she hight ; Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine, And Windsor, alas, doth chase me from her

sight! Her beauty of kind ; her virtues from above ; Happy is he that can obtain her love.

SIR THOMAS WYATT.

BORN 1503-DIED 1541.

This gentleman, a poet, courtier, and statesman, was one

of the most distinguished ornaments of the court of Henry VIII., as a writer inferior to his friend Surrey in elegance of fancy, and harmony and variety of num. bers, but surpassing him in terseness and moral vigour. Surrey's love-verses spring from passion and unaffected impulse, refined by gallantry, and animated by a naturally warm imagination. Wyatt has penned many amor. ous ditties, because such was the courtly fashion; but his

element is philosophic reflection and dignified satire. Sir Thomas was the son of Sir Henry Wyatt of Allington

Castle, Kent, of whom a singular story is told. While imprisoned in the Tower by the tyrant Richard III., he was preserved by a cat which brought him food. His pictures, according to the local historian of Kent, are always drawn with his preserver either in his arms or beside him. Young Wyatt was educated at Cambridge, and, on coming

to court, from the beauty of his person, his graceful accomplishments, talent for repartee, and polite and spright. ly manners, he became a general favourite. These qualities recommended him to the King, who employed him on several embassies. He married very young; but when Henry grew tired of the wife it had cost him so much to obtain-Anne Boleyn,-Wyatt was one of her many imputed lovers. There is small remaining evidence to support the alleged attachment, at least on the part of Wyatt; for though he fell under the displeasure of his capricious sovereign, and was twice imprisoned, and once tried for his life, he carried his head on his shoulders to the grave,-a rather unusual circumstance with Henry's favourites. Mr Campbell says, that a tradition of this attachment long remained in the Wyatt family, and that the poetical name of his mistress is Anna. But the poetical name of his mistress is also Phillis. It is more certain, that perusing his sonnets was one of the last consolations of the unhappy Queen in the prison which led to the scaffold, and that she retained Wyatt's sister near her till the last moment of her life. Wyatt, with many brilliant accomplishments, possessed prudence, penetration, and firmness; and abundance of that knowledge of life and manners which gains friends and increases personal ille

« PreviousContinue »