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Some drunken rhymer thinks his time well spent,
And now he deems his home-bred fare as leaf
Was a native of Oxfordshire, and was born, as Mr. Ellis conjectures, in 1558. He left the university of Oxford without a degree, and came to London, where he pursued the business of an attorney of the common pleas. Scott, the poet of Amwell, discovered that he had been buried in the church of that parish in 1609, having died suddenly in the night-time.
His Albion's England was once exceedingly popular. Its publication was at one time interdicted by the Star-chamber, for no other reason that can now be assigned, but that it contains some lovestories more simply than delicately related. His contemporaries compared him to Virgil, whom he certainly did not make his model. Dr. Percy thinks he rather resembled Ovid, to whom he is, if possible, still more unlike. His poem is, in fact, an enormous ballad on the history, or rather on the fables, appendant to the history of England: heterogeneous, indeed, like the Metamorphoses, but written with an almost doggrel simplicity. Headley has rashly preferred his works to our ancient ballads; but with the best of these they will bear no comparison. Argentile and Curan has indeed some beautiful touches, yet that episode requires to be weeded of many lines to be read with unqualified pleasure; and through the rest of his stories we shallysearch in vain for the familiar magic of such ballads' as Chevy Chase or Gill Morrice.
ARGENTILE AND CURAN.
FROM ALBION'S ENGLAND.
Argentile, the daughter and heiress of the deceased King, Adel
bright, has been left to the protection of her uncle Edel, who discharges his trust unfaithfully, and seeks to force bis niece to marry a suitor whom he believes to be ignoble, that he may have a pretext for seizing on her kingdom,
Yet well he fosters for a time the damsel, that was
grown The fairest lady under heav'n, whose beauty being
known, VOL. I.
A many princes seek her love, but none might her
obtain, For gripel Edel to himself her kingdom sought to
gain, And for that cause, from sight of such he did his
ward restrain. By chance one Çuran, son unto a Prince of Danske,
The maid, with whom he fell in love, as much as one
might be: Unhappy youth, what should he do? his saint was
kept in mew; Nor he nor any nobleman admitted to her view: One while in melancholy fits he pines himself
away, Anon he thought by force of arms to win her if he
may, And still against the king's restraint did secretly in
veigh. At length the high controller, Love, whom none
may disobey, Imbased him from lordliness into a kitchen drudge, That so at least of life or death she might become
his judge; Access so had, to see and speak, he did his love
bewray, And tells his birth—her answer was, she husband
less would stay: Meanwhile the king did beat his brain, his booty
Not caring what became of her, so he by her might
thrive; At last his resolution was some peasant should her
wive: And (which was working to his wish) he did ob
serve with joy, How Curan, whom he thought a drudge, scap'd
many an am'rous toy : The king, perceiving such his vein, promotes his
vassal still, Lest that the baseness of the man should let perhaps
bis will; Assured, therefore, of his love, but not suspecting
who The lover was, the king himself in his behalf did
The lady, resolute from love, unkindly takes that
he Should bar the noble and unto so base a match
agree; And therefore, shifting out of doors, departed hence
by stealth, Preferring poverty before a dangerous life in wealth. When Curan heard of her escape, the anguish of
his heart Was more than much, and after her he did from
court depart; Forgetful of himself, his birth, his country, friends, and all,