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Nor is this paffage unsupported by a warmth of imagination, and the spirit of pathetic poetry. The general cast of the whole poem shews, that our author was not ill qualified for dramatic composition.
Another of Grimoald's blank-verse poems, is on the death of Zoroas an Egyptian astronomer, who was killed in Alexander's first battle with the Persians. It is opened with this nervous and animated exordium.
Now clattering armes, now ragyng broyls of warre,
the lyons keene,
In the midst of the tumult and hurry of the battle, appears the sage philosopher Zoroas : a classical and elegant description of whose skill in natural science, forms a pleasing contrast amidst images of death and destruction ; and is inserted with great propriety, as it is necessary to introduce the history of his catastrophe.
Shakyng her bloody hands Bellone, among
· Fol. 115.
The reader muft recollect Shakespeare's,
• Brave, is richly decked. Vol. III.
And in celestiall bodies he could tell
What fire doth qualify Mavorses ? fire, &c. Our astronomer, finding by the stars that he is destined to die speedily, chuses to be killed by the hand of Alexander, whom he endeavours to irritate to an attack, first by throwing darts, and then by reproachful speeches.
Alexander is for a while unwilling to revenge this insult on a man eminent for wisdom.
i With plenty.
w Whether any music made by man resemble that of the Spheres.
a Fol. 115
The noble prince amoved takes ruthe upon
I have a suspicion, that these two pieces in blank-verse, if not fragments of larger works, were finished in their present state, as, prolusions, or illustrative practical specimens, for our author's course of lectures in rhetoric. In that case, they were written so early as the year 1547. There is positive proof, that they appeared not later than 1557, when they were first printed by Tottell.
I have already mentioned lord Surrey's Virgil : and for the sake of juxtaposition, will here produce a third specimen of early blank-verse, little known. In the year 1590, William Vallans published a blank-verse poem, entitled, A TALE OF Two SWANNES, which, under a poetic fiction, describes the situation and antiquities of several towns in Hertfordshire. The author, a native or inhabitant of Hertfordshire, seems to have been con
nected with Camden and other ingenious antiquaries of his age. I cite the exordium.
When Nature, nurse of every living thing,
Vallans is probably the author of a piece much better known, a history, by many held to be a romance, but which proves the writer a diligent searcher into antient records, entitled, “ The “ HONOURABLE PRENTICE, Shewed in the Life and Death “ of Sir John HAWKEWOOD sometime Prentice of London, “ interlaced with the famous History of the noble Fitz“ WALTER Lord of Woodham in Eflex', and ofthe poisoning " of his faire daughter. Also of the merry Customes of Dun" MOWE, &c.
&c. Whereunto is annexed the most lamentable “ murther of Robert Hall at the High Altar in Westminster
The reader will observe, that what has been here said about early specimens of blank-verse, is to be restrained to poems not
• London, Printed by Roger Ward for Robert Sheldrake, MDXC. 4to. 3. Sheets. He mentions most of the Seats in Hertford. fire then existing, belonging to the queen and the nobility. See Hearne's LEL. ITIN, V. Pr. p iv. seq. ed.
✓ The founder of Dunmowe Priory, af
terwards mentioned, in the reign of Henry the third.
& There are two old editions, at Lon. don, in 3615, and 1616, both for Henry Gosfon, in 5 th. 4to. They have only the author's initials W. V. See Hearne, ut modo supr. iii. p. v. ii. p. xvi.
written for the stage. Long before Vallans's Two SWANNES, many theatrical pieces in blank-verse had appeared; the first of which is, The Tragedy of GORDOBUCKE, written in 1561. The second is George Gascoigne's JocASTA, a tragedy, acted at Grays-inn, in 1566. George Peele had also published his tragedy in blank-verse of DAVID and BETHSABE, about the year 1579 4. HIERONYMO, a tragedy also without rhyme, was acted before 1590. But this point, which is here only tranfiently mentioned, will be more fully considered hereafter, in its proper place. We will now return to our author Grimoald.
Grimoald, as a writer of verses in rhyme, yields to none of his cotemporaries, for a masterly choice of chaste expression, and the concise elegancies of didactic versification. Some of the couplets, in his poem IN PRAISE OF MODERATION, have all the smartness which marks the modern style of : fententious poetry, and would have done honour to Pope's ethic epistles,
The auncient Time commended not for nought
Shakespeare did not begin writing for the stage till 1591. Jonson, about 1598.
Icarus, with thy father. k Strait. Sea.
! That which.