תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Such were the rude beginnings in the English language of didactic poetry, which, on a kindred subject, the present age has seen brought to perfection, by the happy combination of judicious precepts with the most elegant ornaments of language and imagery, in Mr. Mason's ENGLISH GARDEN.

SECT.

[ocr errors][merged small]

A

MONG Antony Wood's manuscripts in the Bodleian

library at Oxford, I find a poem of considerable length written by William Forrest, chaplain to queen Mary'. It is entitled, “ A true and most notable History of a right noble “ and famous Lady produced in Spayne entitled the second “ GRESIELD, practised not long out of this time in much part

tragedous as delectable both to hearers and readers.” This is a panegyrical history in octave rhyme, of the life of queen Catharine, the first queen of king Henry the eighth. The poet compares Catharine to patient Grisild, celebrated by Petrarch and Chaucer, and Henry to earl Walter her husband. Catharine had certainly the patience and conjugal compliance of Grisild: but Henry's cruelty was not, like Walter's, only artificial and assumed. It is dedicated to queen Mary: and Wood's manuscript, which was once very superbly bound and embossed, and is elegantly written on vellum, evidently appears to have been the book presented by the author to her majesty. Much of its antient finery is tarnished: but on the brass bosses at each corner is still discernible Ave, MARIA GRATIA PLENA.

At the end

. In folio. MSS. Cod. A. Wood. Num. 2. They were purchased by the univerfity after Wood's death.

The affecting story of Patient GRISILD seems to have long kept up its celebrity. In the books of the Stationers, in 1565, Owen Rogers has a licence to print

a ballat intituled the songe of pacyent “ Gressell vnto hyr make." REGISTR. A.

fol. 132. b. Two ballads are entered in 1365, to the tune of pacyente Gressell.” Ibid. fol. 135. a.

In the same year, T. Colwell has licence to print," " The hiltory

of meke and pacyent Gresell." Ibid. fol. 139. a.

Colwell has a second edition of this history in 1568. Ibid. fol. 177. a. Instances occur much lower,

Vol. III.

Rr

is

is this colophon. “Here endeth the Historye of Gryfilde the second, dulie meanyng Quieene Catharine mother to our most “ dread soveraigne Lady queene Mary, fynysched the xxv day of June, the yeare of owre Lorde 1558. By the symple and “ unlearned Syr Wylliam Forrest preeiste, propria manu. ” The

poem, which consists of twenty chapters, contains a zealous condemnation of Henry's divorce : and, I believe, preserves some anecdotes, yet apparently misrepresented by the writer's religious and political bigotry, not extant in any of our printed histories. Forrest was a student at Oxford, at the time when this notable and knotty point of casuistry prostituted the learning of all the universities of Europe, to the gratification of the capricious amours of a libidinous and implacable tyrant. He has recorded many particulars and local incidents of what passed in Oxford during that transaction. At the end of the poem is a metrical ORATION CONSOLATORY, in fix leaves, to queen Mary.

In the British Museum is another of Forrest's poems, written in two splendid folio volumes on vellum, called “ The tragedious “ troubles of the most chast and innocent Joseph, son to the

holy patriarch Jacob,” and dedicated to Thomas Howard duke of Norfolk". In the fame repository is another of his pieces, never printed, dedicated to king Edward the sixth, “ A 66 notable warke called The PLEASANT POESIE OF PRINCELIE “ PRACTISE, composed of late by the simple and unlearned “ fir William Forrest priest, much part collected out of a booke “ entitled the GOVERNANCE OF NOBLEMEn, which booke “ the wyse philofopher Aristotle wrote to his disciple Alexander

e In the first chapter, he thus speaks of first husband prince Henry, on account of the towardliness of the princess Catha his tender years, never slept with her. rine's younger years.

MSS. Reg, 18 C. xii. It appears to With stoole and needyl she was not to

have once belonged to the library of John seeke,

Theyer of Cooperfill near Gloucester. And other practiseingis for ladyes meete;

There is another copy in University-colTo pastyme at tables, ticktacke, or gleeke,

lege Library, Mss. G. 7. with gilded

leaves. This, I believe, once belonged Cardys, dyce, &c.

to Robert earl of Aylesbury. Pr.“ In CaHe adds, that he was a pure virgin naan that country opulent." when married to the king : and that her

" the

[ocr errors]

" the Greate.” The book here mentioned is Ægidius Romanus de RegiminE PRINCIPIUM, which yet retained its reputation and popularity from the middle age'. I ought to have observed before, that Forrest translated into English metre fifty of David's Psalms, in 1551, which are dedicated to the duke of Somerset, the Protector . Hence we are led to suspect, that our author could accommodate his faith to the reigning powers. Many more of his manuscript pieces both in prose and verse, all professional and of the religious kind, were in the hands of Robert earl of Ailesbury". Forrest, who must have been living at Oxford, as appears from his poem on queen Catharine, so early as the year 1530, was in reception of an annual pension of fix pounds from Christ-church in that university, in the year 1555'. He was eminently skilled in mufic: and with much diligence and expence, he collected the works of the most excellent Englith composers, that were his cotemporaries. These, being the choicest compositions, of John Taverner of Boston, organist of Cardinal-college now Christ-church at Oxford, John Merbeck who first digested our present church-service from the notes of the Roman miffal, Fairfax, Tye, Sheppard, Norman, and others, falling after Forrest's death into the poffeffion of doctor William Hether, founder of the musical praxis and professorship at

MSS. Reg. 17 D. iii. In the Preface twenty-seven chapters are enumerated : but the book contains only twenty-four.

f See fupr. vol. ii. p. 39. Not long before, Robert Copland, the printer, author of the TESTAMENT OF JULIAN OF BRENTFORD, translated from the French and printed, “ The Secrete of Secre“Tes of Aristotle, with the governayle of

princes and euerie manner of estate, “ with rules of health for bodie and foule." Lond. 1528. 4to. To what I have before faid of Robert Copland as a poet (supr. vol. ii. p. 300.) may be added, that he prefixed an English copy of verses to the Mirrour of the Church of Saynt Auftine of Abyngdon, &c. Printed by himself, 1521.

4to. _Another to Andrew Chertfey's Passio Domini, ibid. 1521. 4to. (See fupr. p. 80.) He and his brother William printed several romances before 1530.

& MSS. Reg. 17 A. xxi.

b Wood, ATH. Oxon. i. 124. Fox says, that he paraphrased the Pater Nos. Ter in English verse, Pr. “ Our Father " which in heaven doth fit." Also the Te Deum, as a thanksgiving hymn for queen Mary, Pr.O God thy name we · magnific." Fox, MART. p. 1139. edit. vet.

1 MSS. Le Neve. From a long chapter in his KATHARINE, about the building of Christ-church and the regimen of it, he appears to have been of that college.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

at Oxford in 1623, are now fortunately preserved at Oxford, in the archives of the music-school assigned to that institution.

In the year 1554, a poem of two sheets, in the spirit and stanza of Sternhold, was printed under the title, “ The VnGODLINESSE OF THE HETHNICKE GODDES, or The Down

fall of Diana of the Ephefians, by J. D. an exile for the " word, late a minister in London, MDLIV I presume it was printed at Geneva, and imported into England with other books of the same tendency, and which were afterwards suppressed by a proclamation. The writer, whose arguments are as weak as his poetry, attempts to prove, that the customary mode of training youths in the Roman poets encouraged idolatry and pagan superstition. This was a topic much laboured by the puritans. Prynne, in that chapter of his HISTRIOMASTIX, where he exposes “ the obscenity, ribaldry, amorousnesse, heA“ THENISHNESSE, and prophanesle, of most play-bookes, Ar" cadias, and fained histories that are now so much in admira“ tion,” acquaints us, that the infallible leaders of the puritan persuasion in the reign of queen Elisabeth, among which are two bishops, have solemnly prohibited all christians,

to print, to sell, to read, or school-masters and others to “ teach, any amorous wanton Play-bookes, Histories, or Heathen " authors, especially Ovid's wanton Epistles and Bookes of " love, Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, Martiall, the Comedies " of Plautuş, Terence, and other such amorous bookes, favoring “ either of Pagan Gods, of Ethnicke rites and ceremonies, of “ fcurrility, amorousnesse, and prophanesse'.” But the classics were at length condemned by a much higher authority. In the year 1582, one Christopher Ocland, a schoolmaster of Cheltenham, published two poems in Latin hexameters, one entitled ANGLORUM PRÆLIA, the other ELIZABETHA". To these

" to pen,

& BI. Lett. 12mo. 'Pag 913. 916.

m Londini. Apud Rad. Neubery ex arfignatione Henrici Bynneman typographi. Anno 1582. Cum priv. 1 2mo. The whole

title is this, “ ANGLORUM PRÆLIA ab A. D. 1327, anno nimirum primo inclytif“fimi principis Edwardi eius nominis “tertii, usque ad A. D. 1558, carmine “ fummatim perstricta. Item De pacatif

Jimo

« הקודםהמשך »