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began to prevail about the beginning of the sixteenth
century, not only introdueed the studies of classical literature into England, but gave a new turn to our vernacular poetry. At this period, Petrarch still continued the most favorite poet of the Italians; and had established a manner, which was universally adopted and imitated by his ingenious countrymen. In the mean time, the courts both of France and England were distinguished for their elegance. Francis the first had changed the state of letters in France, by mixing gallantry with learning, and by admitting the ladies to his court in company with the
O'. communications and intercourse with Italy, which
and a festivity unknown to the ceremonious shews of former Princes. Henry the eighth vied with Francis in these gaieties. His ambition, which could not bear a rival even in diverfions,
was seconded by liberality of disposition and a love of ostentation. For Henry, with many boisterous qualities was magnificent and affable. Had he never murthered his wives, his politeness to the fair sex would remain unimpeached. His martial sports were unincumbered by the barbaric pomp of the antient chivalry, and softened by the growing habits of more rational manners. He was attached to those spectacles and public amusements, in which beauty assumed a principal share ; and his frequent masques and tournaments encouraged a high spirit of romantic courtesy. Poetry was the natural accompaniment of these refinements. Henry himself was a leader and a chief charaćter in these pageantries, and at the same time a reader and a writer of verses. The language and the manners of Italy were esteemed and studied. The sonnets of Petrarch were the great models of composition. They entered into the genius of the fashionable manners: and in a court of such a complexion, Petrarch of course became the popular poet. Henry Howard earl Surrey, with a mistress perhaps as beautiful as Laura, and at least with Petrarch's passion if not his taste, led the way to great improvements in English poetry, by a happy imitation of Petrarch, and other Italian poets, who had been most successful in painting the anxieties of love with pathos and propriety. Lord Surrey's life throws so much light on the character and subječts of his poetry, that it is almost impossible to confider the one, without exhibiting a few anecdotes of the other. He was the son and grandson of two lords treasurers dukes of Norfolk; and in his early childhood discovered the most promising marks of lively parts and an active mind. While a boy, he was habituated to the modes of a court at Windsor-castle ; where he resided, yet under the care of proper instructors, in the quality of a companion to Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond, a natural son of king Henry the eighth, and of the highest expectations. *. This young nobleman, who also bore other titles and honours, was the child of Henry's affection: not so much on account of his hopeful abilities, as for a reason insinuated by lord Herbert, and at which those who know Henry's history and charaćter will not be surprised, because he equally and strongly resembled both his father and mother. A friendship of the closest kind commencing between these two illustrious youths, about the year 1530, they were both removed to cardinal Wolsey's college at Oxford, then universally frequented, as well for the excellence as the novelty of its institution; for it was one of the first seminaries of an English university, that professed to explode the pedantries of the old barbarous philosophy, and to cultivate the graces of polite literature. Two years afterwards, for the purpose of acquiring every accomplishment of an elegant education, the earl accompanied his noble friend and fellow-pupil into France, where they received king Henry, on his arrival at Calais to visit Francis the first, with a most magnificent retinue. The friendship of these two young noblemen was soon strengthened by a new tie ; for Richmond married the lady Mary Howard, Surrey's sister. Richmond, however, appears to have died in the year 1536, about the age of seventeen, having never cohabited with his wife". It was long, before Surrey forgot the untimely loss of this amiable youth, the friend and associate of his childhood, and who nearly resembled himself in genius, refinement of manners, and liberal acquisitions. The FAIR GERALDINE, the general obječt of lord Surrey's passionate sonnets, is commonly said to have lived at Florence, and to have been of the family of the Geraldi of that city. This is a mistake, yet not entirely without grounds, propagated by an easy misapprehension of an expression in one of our poet's odes, and a passage in Drayton's heroic epistles. She was undoubtedly one of the daughters of Gerald Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare. But it will be necessary to transcribe what our author himself has said of this celebrated lady. The history of one
* Wood, Ath. Oxon. i. 68. who * i. e. their. - * Cat Al. Roy. and Noble Authors, * Fol. 5. edit, 1557. vol. i. p. 105. edit, 1759.
These notices, it must be confessed, are obscure and indirect. But a late elegant biographer has, with the most happy sagacity, solved the difficulties of this little enigmatical ode, which had been before either neglected and unattempted as inexplicable, or rendered more unintelligible by false conjećtures. I readily adopt Mr. Walpole's key to the genealogy of the matchless Geraldine *.
Her poetical appellation is almost her real name. Gerald Fitzgerald, abovementioned, earl of Kildare in the reign of Henry the eighth, married a second wife, Margaret daughter of Thomas Gray, marquis of Dorset: by whom he had three daughters, Margaret, Elisabeth, and Cicely. Margaret was born deaf and dumb ; and a lady who could neither hear nor answer her lover, and who wanted the means of contributing to the most endearing reciprocations, can hardly be supposed to have been the cause of any vehement effusions of amorous panegyric. We may therefore safely pronounce Elisabeth or Cicely to have been Surrey's favorite. It was probably Elisabeth, as she seems always to have lived in England. Every circumstance of the sonnet evidently coincides with this state of the case. But, to begin with the first line, it will naturally be asked, what was lady Elisabeth Gerald's connection with Tuscany The beginnings of noble families, like those of nations, often owe somewhat to fićtitious embellishment: and our genealogists uniformly assert, that the family of Fitzgerald derives its origin from Otho, a descendant of the dukes of Tuscany: that they migrated into England under the reign of king Alfred, whose annals are luckily too scanty to contradićt such an account, and were from England speedily transplanted into Ireland. Her father was an Irish earl, resident at his earldom of Kildare; and she was consequently born and nursed in Ireland. Her mother, adds the sonnet, was of princely parentage. Here is a no less exact correspondence with the line of the lady's pedigree: for Thomas, marquis of Dorset, was son of queen Elisabeth Gray, daughter of the duchess of Bedford, descended from the royal house of Luxemburgh. The poet acquaints us, that he first saw her at Hunsdon. This notice, which seems of an indifferent nature and quite extraneous to the question, abundantly corroborates our conjećture. Hundsdon-house in Hertfordshire was a new palace built by Henry the eighth, and chiefly for the purpose of educating his children. The lady Elisabeth Fitzgerald was second cousin to Henry's daughters the princesses Mary and Elisabeth, who were both educated at Hunsdon'. At this royal nursery she therefore tasted of costly foode with kinges childe, that is, lived while a girl with the young princesses her relations, as a companion in their education. At the same time, and on the same plan, our earl of Surrey refided at Windsor-castle, as I have already remarked, with the young