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THE POETRY OF SACKVILLE.

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This great office he continued to hold until he died in 1608, at a good old age. Elizabeth and James, unlike in almost everything else, agreed in appreciating the services of this great and gifted man.

While still a student in the Temple, he had joined Thomas Norton in writing a play then called Gorboduc, which was acted before Elizabeth at Whitehall by a company of his fellow-students of the Inner Temple, as a part of the Christmas revels of 1561. This was the first English tragedy, so far as is known. It resembles the later tragedies in having five acts, of which probably Norton wrote three, and Sackville the last two; but it differs from them in the use of that very prosy and unnatural excrescence of the ancient plays, called the Chorus. Every act of Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex as the authors called it in the revised edition of 1571, is closed with an ode in long-lined stanzas, filled, as was the old Greek chorus, with moral reflections on the various scenes. The plot of this play was founded on a bloody story of ancient British history.

But a greater work than Gorboduc adorns the memory of Sackville. During the last years of Mary, which might well be called gloomy, were it not for the fiery glare that tinges them red as if with martyrs' blood, he sketched out the design of a great poem, which was to be entitled The Mirrour of Magistrates, and was to embrace poetic histories of all the great Englishmen who had suffered remarkable disasters. The bulk of this work, which first appeared in 1559, was done by minor writers of the 1559 time; but the Induction and the Story of the Duke of A.D. Buckingham, contributed to the second edition in 1563, are from the powerful pen of Sackville. The “ Induction” is a grand pictured allegory, which describes “within the porch and jaws of hell” Remorse, Dread, Revenge, and other terrible things, that are ever gnawing away at the root of our human life. It contains only a few hundred lines, and yet these are enough to place Sackville high on the list of British poets. As already hi ed, these poems were the fruit of Sackville's early summer; the ripe luxuriance of his life was devoted to cares of the state, whose ample honours crowned his head when frosted with the touch of winter.

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STANZAS FROM

THE INDUCTION."

(FROM "

OLD AGE

THE INDUCTION.")
And, next in order, sad Old Age we found,
His beard all hoar, his eyes hollow and blind,
With drooping cheer still poring on the ground,
As on the place where nature him assigned
To rest, when that the Sisters had untwined
His vital thread, and ended with their knife
The fleeting course of fast-declining life.
There heard we him, with broke and hollow plaint,
Rue with himself bis end approaching fast,
And all for nought his wretched mind torment
With sweet remembrance of his pleasures past,
And fresh delights of lusty youth forewaste; (utterly wasted
Recounting which, how would he sob and shriek,
And to be young again of Jove beseek!
But, an the cruel fates so fixed be

lif
That time forepast cannot return again,
This one request of Jove yet prayed he-
That, in such withered plight and wretched pain
As Eld, accompanied with her loathsome train,
Had brought on him, all were it woe and grief,
He might awhile yet linger forth his life,
And not so soon descend into the pit,
Where Death, when he the mortal corpse hath slain,
With reckless hand in grave doth cover it,
Thereafter never to enjoy again
The gladsome light, but, in the ground ylain,

(laid
In depth of darkness waste and wear to nought,
As he had ne'er into the world been brought.
But who had seen him sobbing how he stood
Unto himself, and how he would bemoan
His youth forepast, as though it wrought him good
To talk of youth, all were his youth foregone-
He would have mused, and marvelled much, whereon
This wretched Age should life desire so fain,
And knows full well life doth but length his pain.
Crook-backed he was, tooth-shaken, and blear-eyed,
Went on three feet, and sometime crept on four;
With old lame bones, that rattled by his side;
His scalp all piled, and he with elà forelore;

pecked
His withered fist still knocking at Death's door;
Fumbling and drivelling as he draws his breath;
For brief, the shape and messenger of Death.

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We have already seen how the first English Bible grew, sentence by sentence, in the quiet study of Lutterworth Rectory, where John Wycliffe sat among his books; how William Tyndale dared death and found it in a foreign land, that he might spread God's word freely among his awakening nation; how Miles Coverdale published in 1535 a version of the whole Bible, translated from the Hebrew and the Greek; and how in 1540 Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, superintended the issue of a new translation, which was called Cranmer's, or the Great Bible.

The reign of the eighth Henry was a strange era in the history of the Book, evidencing perhaps above all other modern days the everlasting life of Truth. If the Bible were not immortal, it would surely have perished then.

One Sunday in February 1526, the great Wolsey sat in old St. Paul's under a canopy of cloth of gold. His robe was purple; scarlet gloves blazed on his hands; and golden shoes glittered on his feet. A magnificent array of satin and damask-gowned priests encircled his throne; and the grey head of old Bishop Fishersoon to roll bloody on a scaffold-appeared in the pulpit of the place. Below that pulpit stood rows of baskets, piled high with books, the plunder of London and the university towns. These were Tyndale's Testaments, ferreted out by the emissaries of the cardinal, who had swept every cranny in

1526 search of the hated thing. None there fresh from the A.D. printer's hand-all well-thumbed volumes, scored with

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THE CRYPT OF OLD ST. PAUL'S

a

ravenous maw

many a loving mark, and parted from with many bitter tears! Outside the gate before the great cross there burned a fire, hungering and leaping for its prey like a red wild beast. On that day no blood slaked its ceaseless thirst, no crackling flesh fed its

this was to be but a prelude to the grand performance of later days. Bibles only were to burn; not Bible readers. When the sermon was over, men, who loved to read these books, were forced, with a refinement of cruelty, to throw the precious volumes into the flames, while the cardinal and his prelates stood looking at the pleasant show, until the last sparks died out in the great heaps of tinder; and then the gorgeous crowd went home to supper, rejoicing in their work of destruction. Poor misguided men! to think that the burning of a few shreds of paper and

scraps of leather could destroy the words of eternal Truth ! Scenes like this occurred more than once at St. Paul's Cross; yet the Bible lived—was revised and translated with more untiring industry than ever.

Fifteen years after the burning thus described, and five years after the body of Tyndale had perished like his books in the flames, a royal order was issued, commanding a copy of the Bible to be placed in every church, where the people might read or hear it freely. Gladly was the boon welcomed; young and old flocked

in crowds to drink of the now unsealed fountain of life. 1541 Then was often beheld, within the grey crypt of St. Paul's,

a scene which a distinguished living artist* has made

the subject of a noble picture. The Great Bible, chained to one of the solid pillars which upheld the arches of the massive roof, lay open upon a desk. Before it stood a reader, chosen for his clear voice and fluent elocution; and, as leaf after leaf was turned, the breathless hush of the listening crowd grew deeper. Grey-headed old men and beautiful women, mothers with their children beside them and maidens in the young dawn of womanhood, merchants from their stalls and courtiers from the palace, beggary and disease crawling from the fetid alleys, stood still to hear; while, in the dim back-ground, men who, if they had dared,

* George Harvey, Esq., of the Royal Scottish Academy,

A.D.

THE CONFERENCE AT HAMPTON COURT.

137

would have torn the sacred Book to tatters and trampled it in the dust, looked sourly on.

This dear privilege of hearing the Bible at church, or reading it at home, so much prized by the English people then, was snatched from them again by their cruel and fickle king. But in 1547 the tyrant died, and during the reign of the gentle boy Edward Bible-reading was restored. Under Elizabeth the Bible was finally established as the great standard of our national faith.

Two editions, appearing before that translation which we use, may be noted,the Geneva Bible, so dear to the Puritans, finished in 1560 by Miles Coverdale and other exiles who were driven from England by the flames of persecution; and the Bishop's Bible of 1568, a translation superintended by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was aided by the first scholars of that learned age.

Then came the translation which we still use, and to which most of us cling with unchanging love, in spite of the occasional little flaws which the light of modern learning has discovered. How tame and cold the words of that Book, entwined as they are with the memory of earliest childhood, would fall upon our ear if rendered into the English in which we speak our common words and read our common books!

Within an oak-panelled and tapestried room of that splendid palace which Wolsey built at Hampton by the Thames, King James the First, most pedantic of our English monarchs, sat enthroned among an assembly of divines, who were met in conference upon the religious affairs of the kingdom. It was then little more than nine months after his accession to the English throne, and he took his seat, resolved to teach the Puritan doctors Jan. 14 that in him they had to deal with a prince of logicians 1604 and a master in theology. There were present, to back the wisdom of the British Solomon and applaud his eloquence, some twenty bishops and high clergy of the Church of England, the lords of the Privy Council, and many courtiers while, to speak in the cause of needed change there were only four-two doctors from Oxford, and two from Cambridge. It

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