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There are few popular writers of the Elizabethan era, if we except such names as Marlowe and Shakespeare, who occupied a greater share of public attention, or contributed more largely to its information and amusement, than Anthony Munday, who, like many others of his class, appears to have passed a long life of great variety and vicissitude. Born in 1553, and at one time professing the Roman Catholic faith, he afterwards became one of its most bitter opponents, and was instrumental in detecting some of their plots. At one time a composer of plays and public actor on the stage, from which he is said, by an unfriendly writer, to have been hissed; at another an apprentice in the printing office of John Allde; one while acting as poet laureat to the city, and employed in writing pageants for the citizens; at another, engaged in producing dramatic pieces for the theatres; now a traveller in various foreign countries; and anon carrying on the quiet business of a draper in the city; at one time a servant of the Earl of Oxford, and afterwards one of the Queen's messengers of the bedchamber, his life appears to have been full of variety and incident; and this may, perhaps, have contributed in some degree, to give him the praise which he acquired among the dramatic poets of his day, of being the “best plotter," or contriver of plots for the stage.
He appears to have commenced writing before 1577, when he was about twenty-three, his first known publication having been licensed to John Charlewood in that year, and continued to write as late as 1621, or perhaps later. He lived to attain the great age of 80, and dying August 10, 1633, was buried in the church of St. Stephen, Coleman-street, where a monument is still existing to his memory. He is known to have been concerned in the writing of fourteen or fifteen plays, the author of several poems, ballads, &c., and was a most persevering and prolific translator of romance, having been the first to introduce the tales of Amadis de Gaule, Palmerin d'Oliva, Palmerin of England, Palmendos, Primaleon, &c., &c., to the notice of the English reader; and though his translations bear evident marks of haste and want of fidelity, and are unequal in style and execution, yet as pictures of the chivalrous ages, and illustrative of early manners and customs, they are well deserving of our present notice. Indeed, Munday's industry and labours as a translator were fully rewarded by the popularity of his works among the romance readers of his day.
The Mirror of Mutabilitie is not noticed by Herbert, nor had Dibdin ever seen it, giving the title only from the notice of it in Cens. Liter., vol. ii, p. 10. See Dibdin's Typog. Antıq., vol. iv, p. 575. Consult also Ritson's Bibliog. Poet., p. 282, and Collier’s Extracts from the Reg. of the Stat. Comp., vol. ii, p. 100. It is of the utmost rarity, and few (if any) of our public libraries possess it. There is a copy in the collection of the Marquis of Bath at Longleat, and another was sold in the library of Major Pearson in 1788. Mr. Heber had a perfect copy which was sold at his sale, pt. iv, No. 1,581, for 51. 78. 6d., and is now in the library of the late Will. H. Miller, Esq. An imperfect copy, wanting the title, sold at Boswell's sale, No. 1,621, for 71.; and another, wanting the title and dedication, brought 1l. 2s. at Bright's sale, No. 3,968. An indifferent copy sold at Chalmers' sale, pt. ii, No. 620, for 51. 108. These are all that the editor has been able to trace.
The present one is perfect, and is bound in Blue Morocco. Gilt leaves.
MURFORD, (NICHOLAS.) - Memoria Sacra. Or offertures unto the
fragrant memory of the Right Honouble Henry Ireton, (late) Lord Deputy of Ireland, intended to haue been humbly presented at his Funerall. By a Nurs-child of Maro. Anag.
[On a monumental tablet ] Fui Ireton. Manuscript. 1651-2. 4to, pp. 22.
The author of these unpublished Manuscript Poems was Nicholas Murford, to whom we are indebted also for an extremely rare volume, printed in 1650, entitled “ Fragmenta Poetica: or, Miscelanies of Poetical Musings, Moral and Divine, by Nich : Murford," London, 1650, 12mo, for an account of which see the next article. It will be perceived that the sobriquet of “ Nurschild of Maro” is an anagram of the author's name. The work is dedicated in a metrical epistle of ten lines, “ To his Excellency (my noblest Patron) the Lord Generall Cromwell,” and signed “ Your Excell:cies most faithfull honourer and much and much obliged Servant, Murford, 8 Feb. 1651-2," Underneath on the same page are two lines “ To the Reader":
O Reader, dare not here for to appear
Except thou bring'st the tribute of a tear! The first poem in the collection is entitled “The Sigh," which we quote in full as a specimen of the style of the writer, and for the sake of its allusion to James Howell and Sir Philip Sidney.
Ah ! how I sigh! to think my meaner witt
Grief for my selfe, and thee, have broke mine heart
Courage : my Lord will still in good part take!
Its lisping language for the Father's sake. The remaining Poems, which are all written in heroic couplets, are, Elegy on the death of the incomparable (late) Lord Deputy Ireton," concluding with “ An Epitaph.” “Upon the Lord Deputy's laying in State at Somerset House." “The Vision upon my Lord Deputy's lying in State." "To the most noble Lady, the Relict of the (late) Lord Deputy Ireton.” “The quarrell of the Author with those given in charge for preparation, towards the solemnity of my Lord Deputy's Obsequies": to which is added lastly “Another Epitaph," as follows:
Here lies Nothing, who when he was something
Because Nobody can rehearse bis praise. The Poems are all sad doggrell, and written in a violent strain of over charged hyperbole - mixed with not a little profaneness -- as for instance after saying
Too little ô main Ocean thou art
To be wept out for such a Worthy: he goes on :
The Trine of Graces sweetly doe instill
Nay to say better, the great All com'ands
To such a Subject that I lay my hands. And after having compared his hero Ireton to all the gods in succession, he finishes with the following climax :
Ye Gods, by Poets called, ye are all Devils
Compar'd with him, since you did com’itt evills.
Descend Don Phæbus from thy lofty seat
It merits praise in very enemies.
were not presented, (as intended and sent) at the Funerall. My Lord, Being by an uumercifull Creditor, treacherously (contrary to protestations) by six Bayliffs and Assistants (though illegally) out of Westminster, hurried to Newgate by a Middlesex Bill at large, not mentioning the Sum, so to deterr my Bayl, (and indeed a 10000" action is often charged for no Cause.) I was inforced to present these Offertures by a supposed friend, not doubting that I should have had such a civility not neglected, being in such a vile Prison, where such as think of God, goodnes, or virtue contract a great odium vpon them, where (in such a filthy place) it was impossible (almost) to write them fair; and therefore I sent them to be transcribed by a friend (an excellent Pen-man) being a Copy of such fair Virtues as my Lord Deputy Ireton was known to be accomplished with.
I hope yor Lop' candor will excuse me from that detestable vice of ingratitude, having received such im'erited favours from yo'. excellent selfe, and yor famous Son in Law; yo'. Lop. having added a promise of indeavouring the recovery of the 13000my Father expended for the good of the Com'onwealth Ao. 1632 and by the lato Kings com’and, who promised and ingaged to secure him, the want of which is able to divert the Musick of Verse in
Your Lops dayly Orator Fleet-Prison 25° Feb. 1651-52.
Murford. VOL. V. PART I.
From this letter it appears that Murford, who, as we learn from his printed Poems, was a Mercharit at Kings Lynn in Norfolk, was a Prisoner for debt in the Fleet Prison, from whence he petitions Cromwell for the recovery of 13,0001., which his father had “expended for the good of the Commonwealth, A.D. 1632," and of which Charles I. had promised to secure the repayment.
This Manuscript formerly belonged to Mr. Park, by whom it has been described in the Restituta, vol. iv, p. 479, and also, form his MS. notes in the Bibl. Ang. Poel., p. 462, when it was priced at 31. 10s. It was afterwards in the collection of Mr. Heber, and on the dispersion of his library in 1836, pt. ii, No. 885, was obtained by its present possessor.
Half-bound in Russia.
MURFORD, (NICHOLAS.)— Fragmenta Poetica : or Miscelanies of Poetical Musings, Moral and Divine: By Nich: Murford.
Utque artes pariat solertia, nutriat usus. Clau
Ad Cælum volito, ut in Deo quiescam. London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley, at the signe of the Princes Arms in S. Pauls Church-yard. 1650. 12mo,
Prefixed to this extremely rare volume of Poems, by the writer of the preceding Manuscript, is a portrait of the author with long flowing hair, in a cloak with falling band the sea and a ship in the distance, with these four verses underneath.
He that veiws Murfords face, sees but a Ray
Contemplates Phæbus as he brightly shines. It appears that Granger had never seen the volume to which this head is prefixed, and that he was unable, “after particular search,” to find the least mention anywhere concerning Murford. This portrait was afterwards altered (as was sometimes done) and made to serve for James Forbes, M.A., a celebrated Nonconformist preacher, who died at Gloucester in 1712, and has the four verses underneath, but altered to
He that veiews Forbes's face, &c.