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The good AEneas, whom the gods beleek
My author says, to honour Helen's name, That through the world hath been belied by fame, How when the king her fere was absent thence, A tale that well may lessen her offence, Sir Paris took the town by arms and skill, And carried her to Troy against her will; Whom whether afterward she lov'd or no ... I cannot tell, but may imagine so.
POLYHYMNIA. Polyhymnia, Describing the honourable Triumph at Tylt, before her Maiestie, on the 17. of November last past, being the first day of the three and thirtith yeare of Her Highnesse raigne. With Sir Henrie Lea his resignation of honour at Tylt, to her Maiestie, and received by the right honorable the Earle of Cumberland. Printed at London by Richard Jhones 1590. 4to. On the back of the title is; “Polyhymnia. Entituled, with all dutie to the Right Honourable Lord Compton of Compton. By George Peele, Maister of Artes in Oxforde.” “It appears,” says the late Mr. Nichols, (Prog. of Eliz. vol. iii. p. 41. ed. 1823,) “by Warton's notes on Milton, p. 593, that George Peele wrote “Polyhymnia, the Description &c. 1590,” but of this I have not been able to obtain a copy.” I reckon myself therefore most fortunate in being able to offer to the reader a reprint of this very rare and curious poem, from a copy in the Library of the University of Edinburgh, among the books presented by the poet Drummond in 1626. In the first edition of these volumes, Polyhymnia wanted several lines, Drummond's copy being slightly mutilated. In the present edition, it is given complete; the omissions having been supplied through the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Bliss, from a MS. copy of the poem discovered in an old family mansion in Oxfordshire. Like other old transcripts of our early poetry, it presents several variations from the printed copy, which I have marked. Beloe (Anec. of Lit. vol. ii. p. 5.) has reprinted the Sonnet, “His golden locks,” &c. at the end of the present tract, among ‘Songs from Garrick collection;' but though several pieces not dramatic are bound up in that collection, I have repeatedly searched it for Polyhymnia in vain. Sir Henry Lee was the son of Sir Anthony Lee, and of Margaret sister of Sir Thomas Wyatt. He died at his mansion at Quarendon in Bucks, in 1611, aged 80.
The following long extract from Segar's Honour, Military and Civill, will perhaps be acceptable to the reader: it forms the whole of the 54th chapter of the 3d book, and is entitled “The Originall occasions of the yeerely Triumphs in England :” “Here will we remember also (and I hope without envie so may,) that these annuall exercises in Armes, solemnized the 17. day of Nouember, were first begun and occasioned by the right vertuous and honourable Sir Henry Lea, Master of her Highnesse Armorie, and now deservingly Knight of the most noble Order, who of his great zeale, and earnest desire to eternize the glory of her Maiesties Court, in the beginning of her happy reigne, voluntarily vowed (unless infirmity, age, or other accident did impeach him) during his life, to present himself at the Tilt armed, the day" aforesayd yeerely, there to performe in honor of her sacred Maiestie the promise he formerly made. Whereupon the Lords and Gentlemen of the sayd Court, incited by so worthy an example, determined to continue that custome, and not unlike to the antient knighthood della Banda in Spain, have ever since yerely assembled in armes accordingly : though true it is, that the author of that custome (being now by age overtaken) in the 33 yeere of her Maiesties reigne resigned and recommended that office unto the right noble George Earle of Cumberland. The ceremonies of which assignation were publiquely performed in presence of her Maiestie, her Ladies and Nobilitie, also an infinite number of people, beholding the same, as followeth. “On the 17 day of November, anno 1590, this honourable gentleman together with the Earle of Cumberland, having first performed their service in armes, presented themselves unto her Highnesse, at the foot of the staires under her Gallery window in the Tilt yard at Westminster, where at that time her Maiestie did sit, accompanied with the Viscount Turyn Ambassador of France, many Ladies, and the chiefest Nobilitie. “Her Maiestie beholding these armed Knights comming toward her, did suddenly heare a musicke so sweete and secret,
* The anniversary of Elizabeth's accession to the throne: Mary died in the afternoon of the 17th of November, 1558. VOL. II. O
as every one thereat greatly marveiled. ' And hearkening to that excellent melodie, the earth as it were opening, there appeared a Pavilion, made of white Taffata, containing eight score elles, being in proportion like unto the sacred Temple of the Virgins Vestall. . This temple seemed to consist upon pillars of pourferry, arched like unto a church, within it were many Lampes burning. Also, on the one side there stood an Altar covered with cloth of gold, and thereupon two waxe candles burning in rich candlesticks, upon the Altar also were layd certaine Princely presents, which after by three Virgins were presented unto her Maiestie. Before the doore of this Temple stood a crowned Pillar, embraced by an Eglantine tree, whereon there hanged a Table; and therein written (with letters of gold) this prayer following Elizae, &c. Piae, Potenti, Faelicissimae virgini, Fidei, Pacis, Nobilitatis vindici, Cui Deus, Astra, Virtus, Summa devoverunt omnia Post tot Annos, tot Triumphos, Animam ad pedes positurus Tuos, Sacra Senex affixit Arma. Vitam quietam, Imperium, famam AEternam, asternam precatur tibi, Sanguine redempturus suo. o