Slike strani

sequence of events. At the same shares with Sir Thomas More the time the style is picturesque and praise of being one of the begetters romantic ; it has the colloquial of English prose. His Governor character of the day; but there is (1531) may almost stand beside much of the art of story-telling in it, Utopia as an attempt at the conand that sense of the effectiveness of struction of an ideal commonwealth. words which is the secret of style. With few of the graces of style, it In this respect it can well compare shows a firm grasp of practical with the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles common-sense, and its theories of or any contemporary work of French education are especially valuable. prose. An attempt at this date to The spread of treatises of this kind, bring together these legends might written in a serious and sober style, have proved the coup de grâce of the is a reflection of the Italian fashion Arthurian romance : in Malory's of the day, and shows that, with the hands the story has been handed influence of Petrarch on English down, with all its freshness, to our poetry, a certain Italianism crept own century.

into English prose. Beside those of whom we have JOHN FISHER (1459 ?-1535). Caralready spoken, the most eminent dinal and Bishop of Rochester, was writer's of prose during the early put to death by Henry VIII a fortTudor period were as follows :- night before Sir Thomas More. His

JOHN BALE (1495-1563), Bishop English works are sermons; but his of Ossory in Ireland, was the author great claim to renown is the service of several theological works. We which he did to English education. shall have more to say in another | In his love for learning he was a chapter about his coarsely satirical true prelate of the Renaissance. As plays and interludes, which, in their President of Queens' College he attitude towards political and re- invited Erasmus to Cambridge, and ligious abuses, bear a strong family so helped to lay the foundation of likeness to Lyndsay's Pleasant Satire Greek scholarship in England ; as of the Three Estates. The work by spiritual director of Lady Margaret which he is best known is the Beaufort, he aided her in establishing Britannia Scriptores, written in her professorships at Oxford and Latin, and containing an account of Cambridge, and in the foundation of illustrious writers in Great Britain Christ's College in Cambridge. After from Japhet to the year 1550.

her death he carried out her legacy JOHN BELLENDEN (d. 1587 ?), by founding St. John's College in the Archdeacon of Moray in the reign of same University. English learning James V, deserves mention as one is under an enormous debt to this of the earliest prose writers in Scot- enlightened bishop, a man of great land. His translation of the Scottish piety and a martyr for conscience' History of the monk Hector Boece sake, the foremost of the band who (not to be confounded with Boëthius), improved the whole groundwork of was published in 1536.

education in England. GEORGE CAVENDISH (1500- JOHN LELAND (1506?-1552), the 1561 ?)-not, as is frequently stated, eminent antiquary, was educated at Sir William-was gentleman-usher St. Paul's School, London, and at to Cardinal Wolsey, and wrote his Cambridge and Oxford. He received master's life, from which Shake several ecclesiastical preferments speare and Fletcher, in Henry VIII, from Henry VIII, who also gave borrowed many passages. The book him the title of the King's Antiquary. is a small masterpiece of simple and Beside his Latin works he wrote in eloquent narrative prose, and de- English his Itinerary, giving an serves the closest attention from account of his travels. The work every reader.

is quaint, but a little dreary ; it is SIR THOMAS ELYOT (1490 ?-1546) still of great value for English was an eminent scholar in the reign topography. It was not published of Henry VIII, by whom he was em- until 1710, when an edition was ployed in several embassies. He prepared at Oxford.



A.D. 1558–1625.

$ 1. Characteristics of the Elizabethan age of literature. § 2. The less

known writers of this period : GASCOIGNE; TURBERVILE; THOMAS SACKVILLE, Lord Buckhurst. $$ 3, 4. EDMUND SPENSER: his personal history; The Shepherd's Calendar; his friendship with Harvey and Sidney ; favoured by Leicester and Elizabeth ; disappointments at Court ; residence in Ireland ; misfortunes, and death. $5. The Fairy Queen ; analysis and criticism. Brilliancy of imagination ; defects of plan; allusions to persons and events. $ 6. Detailed analysis of the Second Book, or Legend of Temperance. $ 7. Versification of the poem; adaptation of style to metre ; Spenser's boldness in dealing with English. $ 8. Character of Spenser's genius: his minor works. $ 9. SiR PHILIP ŠIDNEY: his accomplishments and heroic death ; his Arcadia, Sonnets, and Defence of Poesy. $ 10. The Jacobean Poets :-(i.) DANIEL ; (ii.) DRAYTON ; (iii.) SIR JOHN DAVIES; (iv.) DONNE; (v.) HALL. English satire. § 11. The Fletcher family : PHINEAS and GILES FLETCHER.


§ 1. The characteristic features of the age of Elizabeth give it an unique place in the history of the world. It was a period of sudden emancipation of thought, of immense fertility and originality, and of high and The Elizagenerally diffused intellectual culture. The language, thanks to the various causes already indicated, had reached its highest perfection; the study and imitation of ancient and foreign models had furnished a vast store of materials, images, and literary forms, which had not yet had time to become commonplace and over-worn.

The poets and prose writers of this age, therefore, united the freshness and vigour of youth with the regularity and majesty of manhood ; and nothing can better demonstrate the intellectual activity of the epoch than the number of excellent works which have become obsolete in the present day, solely because their merits have been eclipsed by the glory of a few incomparable names—by Spenser in romantic and Shakespeare in dramatic poetry. The task of the present chapter is to give a rapid sketch of some of the great works thus darkened with excess of light.

$ 2. The first name is that of GEORGE GASCOIGNE, who, as one of the founders of the great English dramatic school,


as a satirist, and as a lyric and narrative poet, occupies a prominent and honourable place. He was the son of a Bed

fordshire knight, and was educated at Trinity Less-known poets :

College, Cambridge. His life was active, and con

densed within its bounds a good deal of experience. GASCOGNE

He sat twice in Parliament; he was a courtier ; (1525 7–1577). he went to the wars and fought the Spaniards in Holland ; and certainly, during his early life, he acquired some of that fatal Italianism of manners and conduct for which, as we shall see, the Englishman of Elizabeth's reign became far too celebrated. In 1566, while at Gray's Inn, he translated Ariosto's comedy, I Suppositi, calling his version The Supposes, and also adapted Euripides' Phænissæ in a play which he called Jocasta. In 1575, on his return from the Netherlands, he brought out a book full of charming lyrics, called " Flowers,” “ Herbs,” and “Weeds." The title of the whole book is too long to quote. As he grew older his thoughts seem to have assumed a more serious complexion. Instead of translating—as he had done, among other things—from the licentious Italian novelists, he turned his attention to satire and moral comedy. The Glass of Government (1575) is, for example, a strict Morality. But his most important production, at least in point of length, is the moral or satiric declamation called The Steel Glass (1576), in which he inveighs against the vices and follies of his time. It is written in blank verse, and is one of the earliest examples of that kind of metre, so well adapted to the genius of the English language. Gascoigne's versification, although harsh and monotonous, is fairly regular and has a certain dignity. The whole poem displays considerable observation and knowledge of life, and its tone is very edifying. The same tendency to moralise is visible in all Gascoigne's later work; and, after his death, George Whetstone, the author of Promos and Cassandra, published a poem called The Well-employed Life and Godly End of_G. Gascoigne, Esquire. Gascoigne's own early poems, Don Bartholomew of Bath and Dulce Bellum Inexpertis, give us some authority for the poet's unregenerate career.

Nearly contemporary with Gascoigne was GEORGE TURBERVILE, whose Epitaphs, Epigrams, Songs and Sonnets (1567)

contain all his original work-love-epistles, epitaphs, GEORGE

and complimentary verses. Turbervile was born TURBERVILE (1340?–16101).

at Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset, went to

Winchester College, became a fellow of New College in 1561, left Oxford for the Inns of Court, and went as Secretary of Legation to Russia. In addition to his original poetry he published quite a number of translations. He is remarkable for his singular attention to style and metre, and for his steady attempt to reduce the harshnesses of Wyatt and Surrey to an even harmony of form.

A poot whose writings--lofty, melancholy, and moral—-undoubtedly exerted a great influence at a critical period in the infancy of English literature was THOMAS SACKVILLE, Lord Buckhurst, of whose life we shall have something more to say later on (see p. 106). Ascham had THOMAS

SACKVILLE been a friend of his father, Sir Richard Sackville,

(1536–1608). and wrote The Schoolmaster for Thomas' children. Sackville is said, without proof, to have projected the famous Mirror for Magistrates, which was intended to contain a series of tragic examples of the vicissitudes of fortune, drawn from the English annals, to serve as lessons of virtue to future kings and statesmen and as warnings of the fragility of earthly greatness and success. He composed the Induction or prelude to this grave and dignified work, and also the first legend or complaint, in which are commemorated the power and the fall of the Duke of Buckingham, favourite and victim of the tyrannical Richard Ill. It is owing to the prominent part taken by Sackville that the idea of the whole work has been attributed to him. His work is, at all events, vastly superior to that of the poets who continued the collection thus begun. A further account of The Mirror for Magistrates will be found in the Notes and Illustrations to the present chapter. The melancholy and Dantesque cast of Sackville's mind is certainly remarkable, and colours not only his contribution to this anthology of misfortune, but the play of Gorboduc, with part of which he enriched our dramatic literature.

§ 3. A period combining a scholarlike imitation of antiquity and of foreign contemporary literature-principally that of Italy-with the force, freshness, and originality of the dawn of letters in England, might have been EDMUND

SPENSER fairly expected to produce a great imaginative and

(1553-1599). descriptive work of poetry. The illustrious name of EDMUND SPENSER occupies a place among the writers of England similar to that of Ariosto among the writers of Italy ; and the union in his works-and particularly in his greatest work, The Faëry Queen-of original invention and happy use of existing materials fully warrants the unquestioned verdict which names him the greatest English poet intervening between Chaucer and Shakespeare. His career was brilliant but unhappy. He is supposed, on his own authority, to have belonged to a younger branch of the illustrious Spencers of Althorp, but his father was traditionally

Life. a London cloth-maker. He went to Merchant Taylors' School, and in 1569 entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar. In the same year appeared an English translation, under the original author's patronage, of Jan van der Noodt's Theatre of Voluptuous Worldlings, in whose edifying pages were contained certain appropriate translations, afterwards assigned to Spenser, from Petrarch and Joachim du Bellay. Undoubtedly Spenser's career at Cambridge was very creditable, and he acquired there an amount of learning remarkable even in that age of solid and substantial studies. He proceeded to his Master's degree in 1576. At Pembroke he came across the learned

Gabriel Harvey, some five or six years his senior, who Spenser's friendship

was a tutor of the college and was much disliked with Gabriel by the Society on account of his arrogance. Harvey, Harvey. whom it will hardly be necessary to mention separately, was born at Saffron Walden, where his father was a rope-maker, in 1547, and died in 1630. His unquestionable talent as a rhetorician was rendered ridiculous by certain literary hobbies, and especially by his mania for employing the ancient classical metres, founded on quantity, in English. Spenser became one of his most ardent supporters, and was for a time infected with his freaks. However, this was only temporary, and Harvey's notoriety rests, not so much upon his connection with Spenser, as on the bitter satire called Have with you to Saffron Walden, in which he was assailed by his enemy Thomas Nash, the pamphleteer and dramatist. Spenser left Cambridge soon after taking his Master's degree, and is supposed to have gone into Lancashire, perhaps as a private tutor, and there, having met with his Rosalind, to have begun writing The Shepherd's Calendar. Two years later, in 1578, he left the North, and, on Harvey's recommendation, entered the household of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was as a member of Leicester's family that he met Philip Sidney, the

Earl's nephew, and acquired his favour. The ShepShepherd's

herd's Calendar, which was published in 1579, was

dedicated to “ the noble and vertuous Gentleman (1579).

most worthy of all titles both of learning and cheualrie M. Philip Sidney." The Shepherd's Calendar consists of a series of "Æglogues” divided into twelve parts or months, in which, as in the Bucolics of Virgil, under the guise of idyllic dialogues, his imaginary shepherds discuss high questions of morality and state, and pay refined compliments to illustrious personages. In these eclogues he endeavoured to give a national air to his work by painting English scenery and English climate, by selecting English names for his rustic persons, and by infusing into their language many provincial and obsolete expressions. The extraordinary superiority in power of imagination and harmony of language which this poem exhibited immediately placed Spenser among the foremost poets of his day, and attracted the favour and patronage of many other protectors. He was presented to Elizabeth, whose worshipper and flatterer par excellence he was to become ; and thus began his life as a courtier. Meanwhile, he appears to have written a great many poems which are now either lost or incorporated in other works. He had begun The Faëry Queen before 1580.

$ 4. When, in 1580, Lord Grey de Wilton was nominated Lord Deputy of Ireland, Spenser went with him as private secretary, and filled several posts of trust beneath him. He

" The

Calendar "

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