Imagens das páginas
PDF

THE

HONOUR OF THE GARTER. The Honour of the Garter Displaied in a Poeme gratulatorie: Entitled to the worthie and renowned Earle of Northumberland. Created Knight of that Order, and installd at Windsore. Anno Regni Elizabetha, 35. Die Junii, 26. By George Peele, Maister of Artes in Orenforde. At London Printed by the Widdowe Charlewood, for John Busbie, and are to be sold at the West doore of Paules. 4to. 1593. On the back of the title are the arms of Elizabeth with the motto “semper eadem,” and under them these verses; “Gallia victa dedit flores, invicta leones Anglia: jus belli in flore, leone suum: O sic, O semper ferat Elizabetha triumphos, Inclyta Gallorum flore, leone suo 1" In editing this piece, I have followed the text of a copy now in the possession of Mr. Thorpe, the bookseller: on comparing it with another copy in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, I found several various readings, which I have given. Alterations must have been made in the work, after a part of the impression was thrown off. Henry, the ninth earl of Northumberland, was born in 1564. Miss Aikin has given so elegant a sketch of his life, that I cannot do better than transcribe it here. “Immediately after the fatal catastrophe of his father in 1585, this young nobleman, anxious apparently to efface the stigma of popery and disaffection stamped by the rash attempts of his uncle and father on the gallant name of Percy, had seized the opportunity of embarking with Leicester for the wars of the Low Countries. He now sought distinction on another element and in a cause still nearer to the hearts of Englishmen [i. e. when in 1588 he joined the fleet against the Spanish Armada, on board a vessel hired by himself]. The conversion to Protestantism and loyalty of the head of such a house could not but be regarded by Elizabeth with feelings of peculiar complacency; and in 1593 she was pleased to confer upon the earl the insignia of the Garter. He was present in 1601 at the siege of Ostend; where he considered himself as so much aggrieved by the conduct of Sir Francis Vere, that on the return of this officer to England he sent him a challenge. During the decline of the queen's health, Northumberland was distinguished by the warmth with which he embraced the interests of the king of Scots; and he was the first privycouncillor named by James on his accession to the English throne. But the fate of his family seemed still to pursue him : on some unsupported charges connected with the gun-powder plot, he was stripped of all his offices, heavily fined and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment; the tardy mercy of the king procured however his release at the end of fifteen years; and he passed the remainder of his life in tranquil and honourable retirement. This unfortunate nobleman was a person of considerable talents: the abundant leisure for intellectual pursuits afforded by his long captivity was chiefly employed by him in the study of the mathematics; including perhaps the occult sciences; and as he was permitted to enjoy freely the conversation of such men of learning as he was desirous of assembling around him, he became one of their most bountiful patrons.”* He died in 1632. All that is known concerning this nobleman is to be found in Collins's Peerage, by Sir E. Brydges, vol. ii. p. 328.

* Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii. p. 219. Let me observe that one of the weakest parts of Miss Aikin's excellent work is her account of the early English dramatists: she appears to have no acquaintance with them, and has drawn her notices not from the best sources. She has not mentioned Peele.

AD MAECENATEM PROLOGUS.

PLAIN is my coat, and humble is my gait,
Thrice-noble Earl; behold with gentle eyes
My wit’s poor worth; even for your noblesse,
Renowned Lord, Northumberland's fair flower,
The Muses' love, patron, and favourite,
That artisans and scholars dost embrace,
And clothest Mathesis in rich ornaments;
That admirable mathematic skill,
Familiar with the stars and zodiack,
To whom the heaven lies open as her book;
By whose directions undeceivable,
Leaving our schoolmen's vulgar trodden paths,
And following the ancient reverend steps
Of Trismegistus and Pythagoras,
Through uncouth ways and unaccessible,
Dost pass into the spacious pleasant fields
Of divine Science and Philosophy;
From whence beholding the deformities
Of common errors, and world's vanity,
Dost here enjoy that sacred sweet content,
That baser souls, not knowing, not affect:
And so by Fate's and Fortune's good aspect
Rais'd, in thy height, and these unhappy times,

« AnteriorContinuar »