« AnteriorContinuar »
English literature is the latter portion of study, it was an age of giants.
THOMAS SACKVILLE. in awakening and expanding the national intellect. The invention of printing; the study of In the reign of Elizabeth, some poetical names classical literature; the freedom with which, of importance precede that of Spenser. The first since the Reformation, questions of theology and is THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD BUCKHURST (1527belief were discussed; the general substitution 1608), ultimately Earl of Dorset and Lord Highof the philosophy of Plato for that of Aristotle ; treasurer of England, and who will again come the number of translations from French and before us in the character of a dramatic writer. Italian literature ; and the dissemination of the Before he was so actively engaged in public life, Scriptures in the English language, may be con- Sackville is said to have planned, towards the sidered as aiding powerfully in the universal end of the reign of Queen Mary, the design of the development. The policy of Elizabeth was an Mirrour for Magistrates, a work that was to English policy. From the first, she abjured consist of a series of legends derived from English foreign ties and adopted the Protestant interest. history. All the most illustrious persons in our Her first act was to order the liturgy to be read in annals who had experienced reverses of fortune English. A sentiment of chivalry pervaded the were to pass in review before the reader, each land—'high thoughts seated in a heart of cour- telling his own story, as a warning or mirror to tesy,' as defined by Sir Philip Sidney, himself a statesmen and rulers. The first edition of the mirror of courtesy and chivalrous honour; and work was published in 1559, the authors being this feeling was elevated by the splendour of a Richard Baldwin and George Ferrers. A second female court, and the interest attaching to a edition appeared in 1563, and to this Sackville maiden queen. There was also the spirit of contributed his Induction and Complaint of the mercantile enterprise and adventurous curiosity, Duke of Buckingham. The Mirrour was afterwhich had been excited by the discovery, in the wards continued by Phayer, Higgins, Churchprevious century, of America and the West yard, and other writers ; but wanting the genius Indies. Our seamen had ceased to feel alarm of Sackville, it fell into oblivion, and the only part for what the poet calls the stormy spirit of the worthy of preservation was the Induction and Cape;' the passage by the Cape of Good Hope Complaint of the original noble author of the had become a highway; the East India Company design. The Induction is a remarkable poem for was chartered and enfranchised; Drake and the age in which it was produced ; it not only Cavendish had circumnavigated the globe; Haw- forms a link, as Mr Hallam remarks, which kins had sailed to Brazil and Guinea; the tall unites the school of Chaucer and Lydgate to the ships of London and Bristol were seen in all Faery Queen, but its portraits of gloom and seas. Voyages of discovery were resorted to as sorrow exhibit a strength of description and a one of the most fashionable and honourable occu- power of drawing allegorical characters scarcely pations of the active young nobles and gentry inferior to Spenser. of the day. A passion for travelling to foreign countries, and witnessing the marvellous sights Allegorical Characters from the Mirrour for Magistrates. believed to abound in those far-off islands of the And first, within the porch and jaws of hell, sun, ran even to extravagance. The period, alto- Sat deep Remorse of Conscience, all besprent gether, was one of action; of earnest, resolute, With tears; and to herself oft would she tell fearless men. If danger were to be encountered, Her wretchedness, and, cursing, never stent? there were willing hearts and hands; if a new
To sob and sigh, but ever thus lament land was to be explored, there were men ready to
With thoughtful care ; as she that, all in vain,
Would wear and waste continually in pain : encounter the trials and fatigue ; if gold was to be had, no enterprise was so hazardous as to Her eyes unsteadfast, rolling here and there, deter men from the search ; if even a tournament Whirled on each place, as place that vengeance brought, or masque were to be performed, it was got up So was her mind continually in fear, on a scale of splendour and magnificence. The
Tost and tormented with the tedious thought drama became a great intellectual arena, in which
Of those detested crimes which she had wrought ; literary genius put forth its highest powers. In
With dreadful cheer, and looks thrown to the sky, that age there might be avarice, cupidity, cruelty
Wishing for death, and yet she could not die. in war, and plotting in peace; but there was no
I Never stopped.