תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

W

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.
• Ath. Oxon. i. 51.
e See MISCELLANEOUS ANTIQUITIES.

Numb.ii. pag. 16. Printed at Strawberry hill, 1772. 4to.

remain,

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

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

is a degree of lyric sweetness in the following lines to his lute, in which, The lover complaineth of the unkindness of his love.

[ocr errors]

My Lute awake, performe the last
Labour, that thou and I shall walt;
And end that I have now begonne :
And when this song is sung and past,
My lute be still, for I have done.

As to be heard where care is none,
As leade to grave in marble stone;
My song, now pearse her hart as sone.
Should we then figh, or fing, or mone?
No, no, my lute, for I have done.

The rockes do not so cruelly
Repulse the waves continually,
As The my sute and affection :
So that I am past remedy.
Whereby' my lute and I have done.

Proude of the spoile which thou has gotte
Of simple hartes, through Loves Thotte,
By whom unkinde thou hast them wonne ;
Thinke not he hath his bowe forgotte,
Although my lute and I have done.

Vengeance shall fall on thy disdaine,
That makest but game on earnest paine:
Thinke not alone under the sunne
Unquits to cause thy lovers plaine :
Although my lute and I have done.

May chaunce thee lie withered and olde
In winter nightes that are so colde,
Plaining in vaine unto the mone:
Thy wishes then dare not be tolde :
Care then who list, for I have done.

Wherefore,
& Unacquitted. Free.

It may chance you may, &c. i Moon.

And

And then may chaunce thee to repent
The time that thou hast loft and spent,
To cause thy lovers fighe and swowne ;
Then shalt thou know beautie but lent,
And wish and want as I have done.

Now cease my lute, this is the last
Labour, that thou and I shall wast;
And ended is that that we begonne.
Now is this song both song and past,
My lute be still, for I have donek.

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 volo sopra'l cielo, e giaccio in terra :

E nulla stringo, e tutto l'mondo abraiccio.
Tal m’ha in prigion, che non m'apre nè serra';

Nè per fuo mi rittien, ne scioglie il laccio ;
E non m'uccide Amor, e non mi sferra ;
Nì mi vuol vivo, nì mi trae d'impaccio.

* Fol. 33.

This paffage is taken from Messen Jordi, a Provencial poet of Valencia.

Vol. III.

E

Veggio

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 :
Pascomi di dolor, piangendo rido.

Egualmente mi spiace morte, e vita :
In questo stato son, Donna, per vui".

Wyat has thus copied this sonnet of epigrams.

I finde no peace, and all my warre is done :
I fear and hope, I burne and frese likewyse :
I flye aloft, and yet cannot aryse ;
And nought I have, and at the world I season;
That lockes nor loseth, (nor) holdeth me in prison.
And holdes me not, yet can I scape no wise;
Nor lettes me live, nor dye, at my devise,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eye I se, without tong I playne :
I wish to perish, yet I aske for helth;
I love another, and I hate myselfe ;
I fede me in forow, and laugh in all my paine.
Lo thus displeaseth me both death and life
And my delight is causer of this strife o.

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.
Lond. 1621. 12mo.

* That which locks, i. e, a key.
• Fol, 21, 22.

and

« הקודםהמשך »