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A hand, that taught what might be said in rhyme;
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit. A mark, the which (unperfected for time,)
Some may approach, but never none shall hit. A tongue that served in foreign realms his king;
Whose courteous talk to virtue did inflame
Our English youth by travail unto fame.
Friends to allure, and foes to reconcile;
With virtue fraught, reposed, void of guile. A heart, where dread was never so impres't
To hide the thought that might the truth advance : In neither fortune loft, I nor yet represt,
To swell in wealth, nor yield unto mischance. A valiant corpse, where force and beauty met:
Happy, alas ! too happy, but for foes, Lived, and ran the race, that nature set,
Of manhood's shape, where she the mould did lose. But to the heavens that simple soul is fled,
Which left, with such as covet Christ to know, Witness of faith that never shall be dead; §
Sent for our health, but not received so. Thus for our guilt this jewel have we lost; The earth his bones, the heavens possess his ghost. *“ Effect,” is here used for affections or passions of the mind.
+ "Reposed,” firmly fixed, in opposition to whatever is capricious or variable.
† “ Loft,” elevated,-neither elated by good, pressed by ill fortune.
§ “ In allusion to Wyatt's translation of the seven peneten. tiary psalms, of which the principal object is, to shew that faith in the mercies of a Redeemer, is the only meritorious cause of acceptance with God.”
“ This Elegy, for it may more properly be called an Elegy than an Epitaph, seems to have been_generally read and admired before it was printed. The whole poem is justly entitled to the highest commendation.Warton cites some stanzas of it as a specimen of a manly and nervous style. So far his praise is just; but this is the least part of Surrey's merit. The objects selected for praise in his departed friend, are virtues of the purest and most exalted nature. Faith in God, and a humble reliance on divine grace; abhorrence of sin ; love of virtue ; innocency of life; and a steady devotion of great natural abilities, and high attainments, to the diffusion of general good, and the service of his country. These could not have been fixed upon by Surrey as topics of panegyric in Wyatt's character, unless they had found congenial virtues in his own bosom."
*** The comments, marked by inverted commas, upon the Poems of Wyatt and Surrey, are taken from Dr. Nott's late edition of their works.
Lord Buckhurst and Earl of Dorset.
Born 1527-DIED 1608,
In vain I think, right honourable Lord,
By this rude rhyme to memorize thy nume,
In golden verse, worthy immortal fame!
Thy gracious sovereign's praises to compile,
(Spenser's Sonnet to Lord Buckhurst,
prefixed to the Faery Queen.)
This very accomplished poet and excellent statesman, though not a native of Kent, yet demands in this place, an ample notice; being the first of an illustrious line, who have for more than two centuries, honoured that county by selecting it as their principal place of residence. He was the son and heir of Sir Richard Sackville, chancellor and sub-treasurer of the exchequer, and born at Buckhurst, in the Parish of Withiam, in Sussex, in the year 1527. From a domestic tuition, says Warton, he was removed to Hart Hall, now Hertford College, Oxford, where he resided some time, but took no degree; he afterwards removed to Cambridge, where, after a short residence, he had the degree of Master of Arts conferred on him. At the
universities he acquired fame as a Latin and English poet.
“ he was in his younger years poetically inclined; and wrote while he continued at Oxford, several Latin and English poems, which not being published carefully, are now lost or forgotten.”
It was then customary for every young man of fortune, before he commenced his political career, or even began his travels, to pass some time in the study of the law. Sackville, accordingly, removed from College to the Inner Temple for that purpose, and at an early period of his life was called to the bar. During his residence at the Temple, his love of poetry was more conspicuous than his attachment to the severe study of the law, and he wrote in conjunction with Thomas Norton, a tragedy called “ Ferrex and Porrex,” which was acted before Queen Elizabeth, at Whitehall, by the Students of the Inner Temple, in 1561. This tragedy the title of which he afterwards changed for that of Gorboduc, was repeatedly printed in the author's life-time, and has been republished since by Dodsley, in his collection of old plays.
About the year 1557, Dr. Anderson informs us, he formed the plan of the “ Mirror for Magistrates," in which all the illustrious, but unfortunate characters in English history, from the conquest, to the end of the 14th century, were to pass in review before the poet, who descends like Dante, into hell, and is conducted by
Every personage was to recite his own misfortunes, in a soliloquy. But he had leisure only to finish a poetical preface called an Induction, and one legend, which is the life of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
As he early, continues Dr. Anderson, quitted the study of the law, for the flowery paths of poetry, so the poet was soon lost in the statesman, and negociations and embassies extinguished the milder ambitions of the ingenious muse.
He sat in parliament during the reign of Queen Mary, and was returned one of the members for Buckinghamshire, in the year 1564. Not long after this, he travelled, and was detained some time a prisoner at Rome, in consequence of pecuniary embarrassment. He seems to have contracted at this time, a fondness for magnificence and expence, which probably led him into repeated inconveniences, as it afterwards attracted the attention of his Royal Mistress, by whose admonition he learned to submit his taste to prudential controul. On the death of his father, which happened in 1566, he procured his liberty, and returned to England, to take possession of his ample patrimony.
His eminent accomplishments and abilities, secured him the confidence and esteem of Queen Elizabeth. He was knighted in her presence by the Duke of Norfolk, in 1567, and at the same time promoted to the peerage, by the title of Baron Buckhurst.
He went Ambassador to France in 1573, and in the following year, being a member of the Privy Council, he sat as one of the Peers on the trial of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. He was nominated a commissioner for the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, but it does not appear that he was present at her condemnation ; he was however selected to be the bearer of the unjust and arbitrary sentence to the unfortunate queen, and to be present at its execution.