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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,
Gan passe the noyes of dredfull trompets clang';
Shrowded with shafts the heaven, with clowd of darts
Covered the ayre. Against full-fatted bulls
As forceth kindled


the lyons keene,
Whose greedy gutts the gnawing honger pricks,
So Macedonians 'gainst the Persians fare'.

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
The Perses, sowth all kynde of cruel deth.
Him smites the club ; him wounds far-strikyng bow;
And him the slyng, and him the shining swoord. —
Right over stood, in snow-white armour brave',
The Memphite Zoroas, a cunning clarke,
To whom the heaven lay open as his boke :

· Fol. 115.

The reader muft recollect Shakespeare's,
Loud larums, neighing steeds, and TRUMPETS CLANG.

Brave, is richly decked. Vol. III.



And in celestiall bodies he could tell
The moving, meting, light, aspect, eclips,
And influence, and constellacions all.
What earthly chances would betide: what yere
Of plenty' stord: what signe forwarned derth :
How winter gendreth snow: what temperature
In the prime tide" doth season well the foyl.
Why sommer burnes : why autumne hath ripe grapes :
Whether the circle quadrate may

Whether our tunes heavens harmony can yeld":
What star doth let' the hurtfull fire' to rage,
Or him more milde what opposition makes :

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.

Shameful stain
Of mothers bed! Why losest thou thy strokes
Cowards among? Turne thee to me, in case
Manhode there be so much left in thy hart :
Come, fight with me, that on my helmet weare
Apolloes laurel, both for learnings laude,
And eke for martial praise: that in my shielde
The sevenfold sophie of Minerve contain.
A match more mete, fir king, than any here.

Alexander is for a while unwilling to revenge this insult on a man eminent for wisdom.

i With plenty.
u Spring. Printemps.

w Whether any music made by man resemble that of the Spheres.

* Hinder.
y Saturn.
2 Of avors, or the planet Mars.

a Fol. 115


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The noble prince amoved takes ruthe upon
The wilful wight; and with soft wordes, ayen :
O monstrous man, quoth he, What fo thou art!
I pray thee live, ne do not with thy death
This lodge of lore', the Muses manfion mar,
That treasure-house this hand shall never spoyl.
My sword shall never bruse that skilfull braine,
Long-gathered heapes of Science sone to spill.
O how faire frutes may you to mortal man
From WISDOM's garden give! How many may,
By you, the wiser and the better prove !
What error, what mad moode, what frenfy, thee
Perswades, to be downe fent to depe Averne,
Where no arts florish, nor no knowledge 'vails
For all these faweso? When thus the foveraign sayd,
Alighted Zoroas, &c.

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

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nected with Camden and other ingenious antiquaries of his age. I cite the exordium.

When Nature, nurse of every living thing,
Had clad her charge in brave and new array ;
The hils rejoist to see themselves so fine:
The fields and woods grew proud thereof also :
The meadowes with their partie-colour'd coates,
Like to the rainebow in the azurd skie,
Gave just occasion to the cheerfull birdes
With sweetest note to singe their nurse's praise.
Among the which, the merrie nightingale
With swete and swete, her breast against a thorne,
Ringes out all night, &c.

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

Abbey .

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.



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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
The Mean. What better thing can there be sought?
In meane is virtue placed : on either side,
Both right and left, amisse a man may lide.
Icar, with fire' hadst thou the midway flown,
Icarian beak" by name no man known.
If middle path kept had proud Phaeton,
No burning brande this earth had falne upon. .
Ne cruel power, ne none too soft can raign:
That kepes' á meane, the same shal stil remain.
Thee, Julie ", once did too much mercy spill :
Thee, Nero fterne, rigor extreme did kill.
How could August" so many yeres wel passe ?
Nor overmeke, nor overfierce, he was.

Shakespeare did not begin writing for the stage till 1591. Jonson, about 1598.

Icarus, with thy father. k Strait. Sea.

! That which.
m Julius Cesar.
* Auguftus Cesar.


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