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The BRutes in English verse. It is dedicated to the young king, who seems to have been the general patron; and was printed in 1547". Wood allows that he was an able antiquary ; but laments, that he “being withall poetically given, must for“ sooth write and publish his lucubrations in verse ; whereby, “ for rhime's sake, many material matters, and the due timing “ of them, are omitted, and so consequently rejected by histo“rians and antiquarians'.” Yet he has not supplied his want of genealogical and historical precision with those strokes of poetry which his subjećt suggested ; nor has his imagination been any impediment to his accuracy. At the end of his CR on IcLE is the Gene AloGY of THE BRUTEs, in which the pedigree of king Edward the fixth is lineally drawn through thirty-two generations, from Osiris the first king of Egypt. Here too Wood reproaches our author for his ignorance in genealogy. But in an heraldic enquiry, so difficult and so new, many mistakes are pardonable. It is extraordinary that a Welshman should have carried his genealogical researches into Egypt, or rather should have wished to prove that Edward was descended from Osiris: but this was with a design to shew, that the Egyptian monarch was the original progenitor of Brutus, the undoubted founder of Edward's family. Bale says that he wrote, and dedicated to fir William Herbert, afterwards earl of Pembroke, a most elegant poetical panegyric on the Cambro-Britons ". But Bale's praises and censures are always regulated according to the religion of his authors. The first CHANson a BoIRE, or DR1 NKING-BALLAD, of any merit, in our language, appeared in the year 1551. It has a vein of ease and humour, which we should not expect to have been inspired by the fimple beverage of those times. I believe I shall not tire my reader by giving it at length; and am only afraid that in this specimen the transition will be thought too violent, from the poetry of the puritans to a convivial and ungodhe ballad.
* Lond. Oétavo. Pr. “In the golden * Ath. Oxon. i. 73. * time when all things.” * Bale, xi. 97.
* A monk. * Having drank she says. Vol. III. D d Now * On the authority of MSS. Oldys. A fion of Mr. Steevens, is the oldest I have valuable black-letter copy, in the posses- seen. * See supr. vol. ii. p. 378
Now let them drinke, till they nod and winke,
This song opens the second act of GAMMER GUR Ton’s NEEDLE, a comedy, written and printed in 1551 *, and soon afterwards ačted at Christ's College in Cambridge. In the title of the old edition it is said to have been written “ by Mr. S. “master of artes,” who probably was a member of that society. This is held to be the first comedy in our language: that is, the first play which was neither Mystery nor Morality, and which handled a comic story with some disposition of plot, and some discrimination of charaćter". The writer has a degree of jocularity which sometimes rises above buffoonery, but is often disgraced by lowness of incident. Yet in a more polished age he would have chosen, nor would he perhaps have disgraced, a better subjećt. It has been thought surprising that a learned audience could have endured some of these indelicate scenes. But the established festivities of scholars were gross and agreeable to their general habits: nor was learning in that age always accompanied by gentleness of manners. When the sermons of Hugh Latimer were in vogue at court, the university might be justified in applauding GAMMER GUR Ton’s NEEDLE.
S E C T. entitled, A MIRRouR for MAGIs TRATEs.
R U E genius, unseduced by the cabals and unalarmed by the dangers of fačtion, defies or neglects those events which destroy the peace of mankind, and often exerts its operations amidst the most violent commotions of a state. Without patronage and without readers, I may add without models, the earlier Italian writers, while their country was shook by the intestine tumults of the Guelfes and Guibelines, continued to produce original compositions both in prose and verse, which yet stand unrivalled. The age of Pericles and of the Peloponnesian war was the same. Careless of those who governed or disturbed the world, and superior to the calamities of a quarrel in which two mighty leaders contended for the prize of universal dominion, Lucretius wrote his sublime didaćtic poem on the system of nature, Virgil his bucolics, and Cicero his books of philosophy. The proscriptions of Augustus did not prevent the pro
gress of the Roman literature. -
More writers than one were concerned in the execution of this piece: but its primary inventor, and most distinguished D d 2 contributor,
vering a vigorous understanding in his childhood, from a domestic tuition he was removed, as it may reasonably be conjec
tured, to Hart-hall, now Hertford college, in Oxford. But he appears to have been a master of Arts at Cambridge". At both universities he became celebrated as a Latin and English poet; and he carried his love of poetry, which he seems to have almost solely cultivated, to the Inner Temple. It was now fashionable for every young man of fortune, before he began his travels, or was admitted into parliament, to be initiated in the study of the law. But instead of pursuing a science, which could not be his profession, and which was unaccommodated to the bias of his genius, he betrayed his predilećtion to a more pleasing species of literature, by composing the tragedy just mentioned, for the entertainment and honour of his fellow-students. His high birth, however, and ample patrimony, soon advanced him to more important situations and employments. His eminent accomplishments and abilities having acquired the confidence and esteem of queen Elisabeth, the poet was soon lost in the statesman, and negotiations and embassies extinguished the milder ambitions of the ingenuous Muse. Yet it should be remembered, that he was uncorrupted amidst the intrigues of an artful court, that in the character of a first minister he preserved the integrity of a private man, and that his family refused the offer of an apology to his memory, when it was insulted by the mali
* Archbishop Abbot, in Sackville's Fu- not twenty years of age when he wrote neral-sermon, says he was aged 72 when Gordobuck. he died, in the year 1608. If so, he was * Wood, Ath. Oxon. i. F. 767.