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of the Italian tongue, and, that he might give new lustre to the name of Geraldine, attained a just taste for the peculiar graces of the Italian poetry.
He was recalled to England for some idle reason by the king, much sooner than he expected : and he returned home, the most elegant traveller, the most polite lover, the most learned nobleman, and the most accomplished gentleman, of his age. Dexterity in tilting, and gracefulness in managing a horse under arms, were excellencies now viewed with a critical eye, and practised with a high degree of emulation. In 1540, at a tournament held in the presence of the court at Westminster, and in which the principal of the nobility were engaged, Surrey was distinguished above the rest for his address in the use and exercise of arms. But his martial skill was not solely displayed in the parade and oftentation of these domestic combats. In 1542, he marched into Scotland, as a chief commander in his father's army; and was conspicuous for his conduct and bravery at the memorable battle of Flodden-field, where James the fourth of Scotland was killed. The next year, we find the career of his victories impeded by an obstacle which no valour could resist. The censures of the church have humiliated the greatest heroes: and he was imprisoned in Windsor-castle for eating flesh in Lent. The prohibition had been renewed or strengthened by a recent proclamation of the king. I mention this circumstance, not only as it marks his character, impatient of any controul, and careless of very serious consequences which often arise from a contempt of petty formalities, but as it gave occasion to one of his most sentimental and pathetic sonnets k. In 1544, he was field-marshal of the English army in the expedition to Bologne, which he took. In that age, love and arms constantly went together: and it was amid the fatigues of this protracted campaign, that he composed his last sonnet called the Fansie of a wearied Lover
Fol. 6. 7.
1 Fol. 18. See Dudg. BARONAG, ii. p. 275.
But as Surrey's popularity encreased, his interest declined with the king; whose caprices and jealousies grew more violent with his years and infirmities. The brilliancy of Surrey's character, his celebrity in the military science, his general abilities, his wit, learning, and affability, were viewed by Henry with disgust and suspicion. It was in vain that he possessed every advantageous qualification, which could adorn the scholar, the courtier, and the soldier. In proportion as he was amiable in the eyes of the people, he became formidable to the king. His rising reputation was misconstrued into a dangerous ambition, and
gave birth to accusations equally groundless and frivolous. He was suspected of a design to marry the princess Mary; and, by that alliance, of approaching to a possibility of wearing the crown. It was infinuated, that he conversed with foreigners, and held a correspondence with cardinal Pole.
The addition of the escocheon of Edward the Confeffor to his own, although used by the family of Norfolk for many years, and justified by the authority of the heralds, was a sufficient foundation for an impeachment of high treason. These motives were privately aggravated by those prejudices, with which Henry remembered the misbehaviour of Catharine Howard, and which were extended to all that lady's relations. At length, the earl of Surrey fell a facrifice to the peevith injustice of a merciless and ungrateful master. Notwithstanding his eloquent and masculine defence, which even in the cause of guilt itself would have proved a powerful persuasive, he was condemned by the prepared suffrage of a servile and obsequious jury, and beheaded on Tower-hill in the year 1547 ". In the mean time we should remember, that Surrey's public conduct was not on all occasions quite unexceptionable. In the affair of Bologne he had made a false step. This had offended the king. But Henry, when once offended, could never forgive. And when Hertford was sent into France to take the command, he could not refrain from
* See Stowe, CHRON. P. 592. Challoner, de REPUBL. ANGL. INSTAUBAND. lib. ii. P. 45.
dropping some reproachful expressions against a measure which seemed to impeach his personal courage. Conscious of his high birth and capacity, he was above the little attentions of caution and reserve; and he too frequently neglected to confult his own situation, and the king's temper. It was his misfortune to serve a monarch, whose resentments, which were easily provoked,
, could only be satisfied by the most severe revenge. Henry brought those men to the block, which other monarchs woul have only disgraced.
Among these anecdotes of Surrey's life, I had almost forgot to mention what became of his amour with the fair Geraldine. We lament to find, that Surrey's devotion to this lady did not end in a wedding, and that all his gallantries and verses availed so little! No memoirs of that incurious age have informed us, whether her beauty was equalled by her cruelty ; or whether her ambition prevailed so far over her gratitude, as to tempt her to prefer the solid glories of a more splendid title and ample fortune, to the challenges and the compliments, of fo magnanimous, so faithful, and so eloquent a lover. • She appears, however, to have been afterwards the third wife of Edward Clinton, earl of Lincoln. Such also is the power of time and accident over amorous vows, that even Surrey himself outlived the violence of his passion. He married Frances, daughter of John earl of Oxford, by whom he left several children. One of his daughters, Jane countess of Westmoreland, was among the learned ladies of that age, and became famous for her knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages".
Surrey's poems were in high reputation with his cotemporaries, and for many years afterwards. He is thus characterised by the author of the old ARTE OF English Poesie, whose opinion remained long as a rule of criticism. • In the latter “ end of the same kinges (Henry] raigne, spronge up a new
company of courtly makers, of whom fir Thomas Wyat the
“ elder and Henry earle of Surrey were the two CHIEFTAINES, “ who having travailed into Italie, and there tasted the sweete « and stately measures and stile of the Italian poesie, as novices “ newly crept out of the schooles of Dante, Ariosto, and Pe“ trarch, they greatly polished our rude and homely manner of “ vulgar poesie from that it had bene before, and for that cause “ may justly be fayd the first reformers of our English meeter “ and stile •.” And again, towards the close of the fame chapter. “ Henry earle of Surrey, and fir Thomas Wyat, between “ whom I finde very little difference, I repute them (as before) “ for the two chief lanternes of light to all others that have “ since employed their pennes upon English poesie : their con“ ceits were loftie, their stiles stately, their conveyance cleanly, “ their termes proper, their meetre sweete and well-propor“ tioned, in all imitating very naturally and studiously their “ maister Francis Petrarcha P. I forbear to recite the testimonies of Leland, Sydney, Tuberville, Churchyard, and Drayton. Nor have these pieces, although scarcely known at present, been without the panegyric of more recent times. Surrey is praised by Waller, and Fenton; and he seems to have been a favorite with Pope. Pope, in WINDSOR-FOREST, having compared his patron lord Granville with Surrey, he was immediately reprinted, but without attracting many readers 9. It was vainly imagined, that all the world would eagerly wish to purchase the works of a neglected antient English poet, whom Pope had called the GRANVILLE of a former age. So rapid are the revolutions of our language, and such the uncertainty of literary fame, that Philips, Milton's nephew, who wrote about the year 1674, has remarked, that in his time Surrey's poetry was antiquated and totally forgotten'.
Our authors Songes AND SOnnettes, as they have been stiled, were first collected and printed at London by Tottell,
* THEATR. Poetar. p. 67. edit. 1674
• Lib. i. ch. xxxi. p. 48. edit. 1589. p Ibid. p. 50.
By Sewell 1717. Reprinted by Curl, ib.
in 1557'. As it happens in collections of this kind, they are of various merit. Surrey is said, by the ingenious author of the Muses LIBRARY, to have been the first who broke through the fashion of stanzas, and wrote in the heroic couplet. But all Surrey's poems are in the alternate rhyme ; nor, had this been true, is the other position to be granted. Chaucer's Prologues and most of the Canterbury Tales are written in long verse : nor was the use of the couplet resumed, till late in the reign of Elisabeth.
In the sonnets of Surrey, we are surprised to find nothing of that metaphysical cast which marks the Italian poets, his lupposed masters, especially Petrarch. Surrey's sentiments are for the most part natural and unaffected ; arising from his own feelings, and dictated by the present circumstances. His poetry is alike unembarrassed by learned allusions, or elaborate conceits. If our author copies Petrarch, it is Petrarch's better manner: when he descends from his Platonic abstractions, his refinements of paffion, his exaggerated compliments, and his play upon opposite sentiments, into a track of tenderness, fimplicity, and nature. Petrarch would have been a better poet had he been a worfe scho. lar. Our author's mind was not too much overlaid by learning.
The following is the poem abovementioned, in which he laments his imprisonment in Windsor-castle. But it is rather an elegy than a sonnet.
So cruel prison, how coulde betyde, alas,
The large grene courtes where we were wont to hove*, * In quarto. It is extraordinary, that • In unrestrained gaiety and pleasure. A. Wood should not have known this edi. With the young duke of Richmond. tion. Another edition appeared in 1565. * To hover, to loiter in expectation. Others, in 1574.-1585.-1587.-Others So Chaucer, TroiL. CRESS. B. 5. ver. 33. appeared afterwards. i How could the stately castle of Wind.
But at the yate there she should outride for become so miserable a prison.
With certain folk he lovid her t'abide.