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“Firenze per Lorenzo Torrentino, 1549'.” But the first edition seems to have been in 1525. This subječt was discussed in an endless succession of Regole grammaticali, Oservazioni, Avvertimenti, and Ragionamenti. Here might also be mentioned, the annotations, although they are altogether explanatory, which often accompanied the early translations of the Greek and Latin classics into Italian. But I resign this labyrinth of research to the superior opportunities and abilities of the French and Italian antiquaries in their native literature. To have said nothing on the subjećt might have been thought an omission, and to have said more, impertinent. I therefore return to our own poetical annals. Our three great poets, Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, seem to have maintained their rank, and to have been in high reputation, during the period of which we are now treating. Splendid impressions of large works were at this time great undertakings. A sumptuous edition of Gower's Confessio AMANT is was published by Berthelette in 1554. On the same ample plan, in 1555, Robert Braham printed with great accuracy, and a diligent investigation of the antient copies, the first correót edition of Lydgate's TRoy Boke". I have before incidentally remarked", that Nicholas Briggam, a polite scholar, a student at Oxford and at the Inns of Court, and a writer of poetry, in the year 1555, deposited the bones of Chaucer under a new tomb, erected at his own cost, and inscribed with a new epitaph, in the chapel of bishop Blase in Westminster abbey, which still remains ". Wilson, as we have just seen in a citation from his RHEToR1c, records an anecdote, that the more accomplished and elegant courtiers were perpetually quoting Chaucer. Yet
this must be restrićted to the courtiers of Edward the fixth. And indeed there is a peculiar reason why Chaucer, exclusive of his real excellence, should have been the favorite of a court which laid the foundations of the reformation of religion. It was, that his poems abounded with satyrical strokes against the corruptions of the church, and the dissolute manners of the monks. And undoubtedly Chaucer long before, a lively and popular writer, greatly affisted the doćtrines of his cotemporary Wickliffe, in opening the eyes of the people to the absurdities of popery, and exposing its impostures in a vein of humour and pleasantry. Fox the martyrologist, a weak and a credulous compiler, perhaps goes too far in affirming, that Chaucer has undeniably proved the pope to be the antichrist of the apocalypse". Of the reign of queen Mary, we are accustomed to conceive every thing that is calamitous and disgusting. But when we turn our eyes from its political evils to the objećts which its literary history presents, a fair and flourishing scene appears. In this prospect, the mind feels a repose from contemplating the fates of those venerable prelates, who suffered the most excruciating death for the purity and inflexibility of their faith ; and whose unburied bodies, diffipated in ashes, and undistinguished in the common mass, have acquired a more glorious monument, than if they had been interred in magnificent shrines, which might have been visited by
pilgrims, loaded with superstitious gifts, and venerated with the pomp of mistaken devotion.
Buc, written by Thomas Sackville lord Buckhurst, the original contriver of the MIRRour of MAG Is TRATEs “. Thomas Norton, already mentioned as an associate with Sternhold and Hopkins in the metrical version of David's Psalms, is said to have been his coadjutor". It is no part of my plan, accurately to mark the progress of our drama, much less to examine the merit of particular plays. But as this piece is perhaps the first specimen in our language of an heroic tale, written in blank verse, divided into acts and scenes, and cloathed in all the formalities of a regular tragedy,
Thomas Norton was a clergyman, a puritan, a man of parts and learning, well known to secretary Cecil and archbishop Parker, and that he was suspected, but without foundation, of writing an answer to Whitgift's book against the puritans, published in 1572. Life of PAR ker, p. 364. Life or Whitgift, p. 28. I forgot to mention before, that Norton has a copy of recommendatory verses prefixed to Turner's PRese R v At Ive, a tract against the Pelagians, dedicated to Hugh Latimer, printed Lond. 1551. Izmo. In the Conferences in the Tower with Campion the Jesuit, in 1581, one Norton, but not our author, seems to have been employed as a notary. See “A true Reporte of “The Disputation, &c.” Lond. 1583, Bl. Lett. 4to. SiGN AT. A. a. iij.
it seems justly to deserve a more minute and a distinét discussion in this general view of our poetry. It was first exhibited in the great Hall of the Inner Temple, by the students of that Society, as part of the entertainment of a grand Christmas, and afterwards before queen Elisabeth at Whitehall, on the eighteenth day of January in 1561. It was never intended for the press. But being surreptitiously and very carelessly printed in 1565, an exact edition, with the consent and under the inspection of the authors, appeared in 1571, in black letter, thus entitled. “ The TRAGI DIE of FER REx AND “ Po RR Ex, set forth without addition or alteration, but alto“ gether as the same was showed on stage before the queenes “ Majestie about nine yeare past, viz. The xviij day of Januarie, “ 1561. By the gentlemen of the Inner Temple. Seen and “ allowed, &c. Imprinted at London by John Daye dwelling “ ouer Aldersgate.” It has no date, nor notation of pages, and contains only thirty-one leaves in small octavo '. In the edition of 1565, it is called the TRAGE DIE of GoRDoBuc. The whole title of that edition runs thus. “ The Tragedie of Gor“ dobuc, whereof three ačtes were wrytten by Thomas Nor“ tone and the two laste by Thomas Sackvyle. Sett forthe as “ the same was shewed before the queenes most excellent ma“iestie in her highnes court of Whitehall, the 18 Jan. 1561. “By the gentlemen of thynner Temple in London. Sept. 22. “ 1565." Printed by William Griffith at the fign of the falcon in Fleet-street, in quarto*. I have a most incorreót black lettered copy in duodecimo, without title, but with the printer's monogram in the last page, I suspect of 1569, which once belonged to Pope", and from which the late Mr. Spence most faithfully printed a modern edition of the tragedy, in the year 1736. I believe it was printed before that of 1571, for it retains all the errors of Griffith's first or spurious edition of 1565. In the Preface prefixed to the edition of 1571, is the following passage. “Where [whereas] this tragedy was for furniture of part of the “ grand Christmasse in the Inner-temple, first written about nine “ years ago by the right honourable Thomas now lord Buck“ hurst, and by T. Norton ; and afterwards showed before her “ maiestie, and neuer intended by the authors thereof to be “ published: Yet one W. G. getting a copie thereof at some “ young mans hand, that lacked a little money and much dis“cretion, in the last great plague anno 1565, about fiue yeares “ past, while the said lord was out of England, and T. Norton “ far out of London, and neither of them both made priuy, put “ it forth exceedingly corrupted, &c.” W. G. is William Griffith, the printer in Fleet street, abovementioned. Mr. Garrick had another old quarto edition, printed by Alde, in 1590. These are the circumstances of the fable of this tragedy. Gordobuc, a king of Britain about fix hundred years before Christ, made in his life-time a division of his kingdom to his sons Ferrex and Porrex. The two young princes within five years quarrelled for universal sovereignty. A civil war ensued, and Porrex slew his elder brother Ferrex. Their mother Viden, who loved Ferrex best, revenged his death by entering Porrex's chamber in the night, and murthering him in his sleep. The people, exasperated at the cruelty and treachery of this murther, rose in rebellion, and killed both Viden and Gordobuc. The nobility then assembled, collected an army, and destroyed the
* For the benefit of those who wish to gain a full and exact information about this edition, so as to distinguish it from
“ | Seen and allowed &c. Imprinted at “London by | John Daye, dwelling ouer “Aldersgate.” With the Bodleian copy
all the rest, I will here exhibit the ar.
of this edition, are bound up four pam-
• In the year 1717, my father, then a ix. p. 39. edit. 12mo, 1754. “Mr. Warfellow of Magdalene college at Oxford, “ton forced me to take Gordobuc, &c.” gave this copy to Mr. Pope, as appears Pope gave it to the late bishop Warburby a letter of Pope to R. Digby, dat. ton, who gave it to me about ten years
Jun. 2. 1717. See Pope's LETTERs, vol. ago, 1770.