Page images

I grant sometime that of glory the fire Doth touch my heart; and me lust not report

Blame by honour, and honour to desire. But how


I this honour now attain.
What cannot dye the colour of black a liar ?
My Poynz, I cannot frame my tongue to feign ;

To cloak the truth for praise, without desert,
Of them, that lust all vices to retain.

I cannot honour them that set their part With Venus or Bacchus all their life long;

Nor hold my peace of them, although I smart. I cannot crouch, nor kneel to such a wrong,

To worship them as God on earth alone, That are like wolves, these silly lambs among.

I cannot with my words complain, and moan, And suffer nought;—nor smart without complaint; Nor turn the word that from

mouth is

gone. I cannot speak with look right as a saint;

Use wiles for wit, and make deceit a pleasure; And call craft counsel; for profit 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 Cæsar, and doom Cato to die, That by his death did 'scape out of the gate

From Cæsar's hands, if Livy doth not lie, And would not live where liberty was lost :

So did his heart the common weal apply. I am not he, such eloquence to boast, * “ To paint," means to deceive—to give a false colour to any thing.

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 many fold;

To praise Sir Topas for a noble tale, And scorn the story that the knight told ; *

Praise him for Counsel that is drunk with ale; Gțin 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 would ever frame in me;
My wit is nought, I cannot learn the way.

And much the less of things that greater be,
That asketh help of colours of device,
To join the mean with each extremity ;

I I With the near virtue to cloak alway the vice;

And, as to purpose likewise it shall fall, To

press the virtue that it may not rise. As, drunkenness good fellowship to call ; The friendly foe, that hath a double face,

Say he is 'gentle and courteous therewithall;
And say that favel + hath a goodly grace

In eloquence; and cruelty to name
Zeal of justice, and change in time and place;

And he that suffereth offence without blame,.
Call him pitiful; and him true and plain,

That raileth reckless unto each man's shame;

Two of Chaucer's Tales are here alluded to. " Favel” means flattery.

Say he is rude that cannot lie and feign ;

The lecher a lover; and tyranny To be the right of a prince's reign.

I cannot, I, no, no! it will not be. This is the cause that I could never yet

Hang on their sleeves that weigh as thou may'st see, A chip of chance more than a pound of wit.

This maketh me at home to hunt and hawk ; And in foul weather at my book to sit,

In frost and snow; then with my bow to stalk;
No man doth mark whereso I ride or go;

In lusty leas at liberty I walk;
And of these news 1 feel nor weal nor woe,

Save that a clog doth hang yet at my heel.*
No force for that, for it is ordered so,

That I may leap both hedge and dyke full well.
I am not now in France to judge the wine,
With savoury sauce the delicates to feel

; Nor yet in Spain, where one must bim incline

Rather than to be, outwardly to seem: I meddle not with wits that be so fine.

Nor Flanders cheer letteth my sight to deem.
Of black and white; nor takes


away With beastliness, they beasts do so esteem. Nor am I not, where Christ is given in prey

For money, poison, or treason, at Rome A common practice, used night and day.

* Warton conjectures that this alludes to some office the poet held at court-Dr. Nott thinks some temporary restraint is alluded to, by which he was confined to his domain of Allington. From the opening of the poem it is probable that neither of these conjectures is the right.

[ocr errors]

But I am here in Kent and Christendom, Among the muses, where I read and rhyme :

Where if thou list, mine own John Poynz to come, Thou shalt be judge how I do spend my time.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

This is a free translation, or rather an imitation of the tenth Satire of Luigi Alamanni, a contemporary writer, and probably personally known to Sir Thomas Wyatt, when he was a resident at the Emperor's court. It is thought by the commentators, to be the earliest of the three poems of a similar character contained in Wyatt's works, and, if so, is certainly the first satirical composition in point of time, extant in the English language. This circumstance seems to have been unknown to Bishop Hall, who publishing his Satires fifty years afterwards, ventured roundly to assert,

“I first adventure, follow me who list

And bc the second English satirist.” which is the more extraordinary, as it is evident that Hall had paid particular attention to the poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, having written an imitation of his ode beginning


[ocr errors]

Blame not my



Eurl of Surrey ;

BORN 1517.-DIED 1547.

The following Poem by this accomplished nobleman, being on a subject eminently Kentish, demands a place in this selection.

An Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder. 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 of envy could obtain.*
A head where wisdom mysteries could frame;

Whose hammers beat still on that lively brain,
As on a stithy, † where 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. I Amid great storms, whom grace assured so,

To live upright, and smile at fortune's choice. * " The meaning of this stanza is obscure.-" In this grave resteth Wyatt, who, when living, could never rest in inaction. Who suffered not the disdain he conceived at the unworthy treatment he experienced, to repress the exercise of his heavenly talent: but turning the envy of his persecutors to his own advantage, drew from their malice a generous motive to fix the love of virtue more deeply in his heart.”

+ Stithy or stiddie means the anvil of the smith, and is a word still in use in the northern parts of England.

# That is; “ an expression of countenance, which at the same time that it was stern, to mark his abhorrence of vice, was mild to encourage the love of virtue.”

« PreviousContinue »