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ITH Surrey's Poems, Tottel has joined, in his editions
of 1557 and 1565, the Songes and Sonnettes of fir Thomas Wyat the elder , and of Uncertain Auctours.
Wyat was of Allington-castle in Kent, which he magnificently repaired, and educated in both our universities. But his chief and most splendid accomplishments were derived from his travels into various parts of Europe, which he frequently visited in the quality of an envoy. He was endeared to king Henry the eighth, who did not always act from caprice, for his fidelity and success in the execution of public business, his skill in arms, literature, familiarity with langaages, and lively conversation. Wood, who degrades every thing by poverty of style and improper representations, says, that “ the king was in a high manner delighted “ with his witty jests b.” It is not perhaps improbable, that Henry was as much pleased with his repartees as his politics. He is reported to have occasioned the reformation by a joke, and to have planned the fall of cardinal Wolfey by a seasonable story. But he had almost lost his popularity, either from an intimacy with queen Anne Boleyn, which was called a connection, or the gloomy cabals of bishop Bonner, who could not bear his political superiority. Yet his prudence and integrity, no less than the powers of his oratory, justified his innocence. He laments his severe and unjust imprisonment on that trying occasion, in a sonnet addressed to fir Francis Bryan : insinuating his follicitude, that although the wound would be healed, the scar would
a Wyat's begin at fol. 19.
Numb.ii. pag. 16. Printed at Strawberry hill, 1772. 4to.
remain, and that to be acquitted of the accusation would avail but little, while the thoughts of having been accused were still fresh in remembrance. It is a common mistake, that he died abroad of the plague in an embassy to Charles the fifth. Being sent to conduct that emperor's 'embassador from Falmouth to London, from too eager and a needlefs desire of executing his commiffion with dispatch and punctuality, he caught a fever by riding in a hot day, and in his return died on the road at Shirburn, where he was buried in the great conventual church, in the year 1541. The next year, Leland published a book of Latin verses on his death, with a wooden print of his head prefixed, probably done by Holbein'. It will be superfluous to transcribe the panegyrics of his cotemporaries, after the encomium of lord Surrey, in which his amiable character owes more to truth, than to the graces of poetry, or to the flattery of friendship.
We must agree with a critic above quoted, that Wyat cooperated with Surry, in having corrected the roughness of our poetic style. But Wyat, although sufficiently distinguished from the common versifiers of his age, is confessedly inferior to Surrey in harmony of numbers, perspicuity of expression, and facility of phraseology. Nor is he equal to Surrey in elegance of sentitiment, in nature and sensibility. His feelings are disguised by affectation, and obscured by conceit. His declarations of passion are embarrassed by wit and fancy; and his style is not intelligible, in proportion as it is careless and unadorned. His compliments, like the modes of behaviour in that age, are ceremonious and strained. He has too much art as a lover, and too little as a poet. His gallantries are laboured, and his versification negligent. The truth is, his genius was of the moral and didactic species : and his poems abound more in good sense, satire, and observations on life, than in pathos or imagination. Yet there
is a degree of lyric sweetness in the following lines to his lute, in which, The lover complaineth of the unkindness of his love.
My Lute awake, performe the last
As to be heard where care is none,
The rockes do not so cruelly
Proude of the spoile which thou has gotte
Vengeance shall fall on thy disdaine,
May chaunce thee lie withered and olde
It may chance you may, &c. i Moon.
And then may chaunce thee to repent
Now cease my lute, this is the last
Our author has more imitations, and even translations, from the Italian poets than Surrey: and he seems to have been more fond of their conceits. Petrarch has described the perplexities of a lover's mind, and his struggles betwixt hope and despair, a subject most fertile of sentimental complaint, by a combination of contrarieties, a species of wit highly relished by the Italians. I am, says he, neither at peace nor war. I burn, and I freeze. I soar to heaven, and yet grovel on the earth. I can hold nothing, and yet grasp every thing. My prison is neither shut, nor is it opened. I see without eyes, and I complain without a voice. I laugh, and I weep. I live, and am dead. Laura, to what a condition am I reduced, by your cruelty !
Pace non trovo, e non ho da far guerra ;
E temo, e spero, ed ardo, e son en un ghiaccio:
E nulla stringo, e tutto l'mondo abraiccio.
Nè per fuo mi rittien, ne scioglie il laccio ;
* Fol. 33.
This paffage is taken from Messen Jordi, a Provencial poet of Valencia.
Veggio senz' occhi, e non ho lingua, e grido ;
E bramo di perir, e cheggio aita ;
Ed ho in odio me stesso, ed amo altrui :
Egualmente mi spiace morte, e vita :
Wyat has thus copied this sonnet of epigrams.
I finde no peace, and all my warre is done :
It was from the capricious and over-strained invention of the Italian poets, that Wyat was taught to torture the passion of love by prolix and intricate comparisons, and unnatural allusions. At one time his love is a galley steered by cruelty through stormy seas and dangerous rocks; the fails torn by the blast of tempestuous sighs, and the cordage consumed by inceffant showers of tears : a cloud of grief envelopes the stars, reason is drowned,
m Sonn. ciii. There is a Sonnet in imi. tation of this, among those of the UNCERTAIN AUCTOURS at the end of Surrey's Poems, fol. 107. And in Davison's Poems,
B. ii. Canzon. viii. p. 108. 4th edit.
* That which locks, i. e, a key.