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ficience in literature. It would have been fortunate, if Mary's attention to this work had softened her temper, and enlightened her understanding. She frequently spoke in public with propriety, and always with prudence and dignity.
In the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, which soon followed, when the return of protestantism might have been expected to produce a speedy change for the better, puritanism began to prevail ; and, as the first fervours of a new sect are always violent, retarded for some time the progress of ingenuous and useful knowledge. The scriptures being translated into English, and every man assuming a right to dictate in matters of faith, and to choose his own principles, weak heads drew false conclusions, and erected an infinite variety of petty religions. Such is the abuse which attends the best designs, that the meanest reader of the New Testament thought he had a full comprehension of the most mysterious metaphysical doctrines in the christian faith ; and scorned to acquiesce in the sober and rational expositions of such difficult subjects, which he might have received from a competent and intelligent teacher, whom it was his duty to follow. The bulk of the people, who now possessed the means of discussing all theological topics, from their situation and circumstances in life, were naturally averse to the splendor, the dominion, and the opulence of an hierarchy, and disclaimed the yoke of episcopal jurisdiction. The new deliverance from the numerous and burthensome superstitions of the papal communion drove many pious reformers into the contrary extreme, and the rage of opposition ended in a devotion entirely spiritual and abstracted. External forms were abolished, as impediments to the visionary reveries of a mental intercourse with heaven; and because the church of Rome had carried ceremonies to an absurd excess, the use of any ceremonies was deemed unlawful. The love of new doctrines and a new worship, the triumph of gaining proselytes, and the persecutions which accompanied these licentious zealots, all contributed to fan the flame of enthusiasm. The genius of this refined and false species of religion, which defied the salutary checks of all human authority, when operating in its full force, was attended with consequences not less pernicious to society, although less likely to last, than those which flowed from the establishment of the antient superstitions. During this unsettled state of things, the English reformed clergy who had fled into Germany from the menaces of queen Mary, returned home in great numbers: and in consideration of their sufferings and learning, and their abilities to vindicate the principles of a national church erected in opposition to that of Rome, many of them were preferred to bishopricks, and other eminent ecclesiastical stations. divines brought back with them into England those narrow principles concerning church-government and ceremonies, which they had imbibed in the petty states and republics abroad, where the Calvinistic dis
h Lond. 1548. fol.
the mean time, the courts both of France and England were distinguished for their elegance. Francis the First had changed the state of letters in France, by mixing gallantry with learning, and by admitting the ladies to his court in company with the ecclesiasticsa. His carousals were celebrated with a brilliancy and a festivity unknown to the ceremonious shows of former princes. Henry the Eighth vied with Francis in these gaieties. His ambition, which could not bear a rival even in diversions, was seconded by liberality of disposition and a love of ostentation. For Henry, with many boisterous qualities, was magnificent and affable. Had he never murdered his wives, his politeness to the fair sex would remain unimpeached. His martial sports were unincumbered by the barbaric pomp of the antient chivalry, and softened by the growing habits of more rational manners. He was attached to those spectacles and public amusements, in which beauty assumed a principal share ; and his frequent masques and tournaments encouraged a high spirit of romantic courtesy. Poetry was the natural accompaniment of these refinements. Henry himself was a leader and a chief character in these pageantries, and at the same time a reader and a writer of verses. The language and the manners of Italy were esteemed and studied. The sonnets of Petrarch were the great models of composition. They entered into the genius of the fashionable manners : and in a court of such a complexion, Petrarch of course became the popular poet. Henry Howard earl Surrey, with a mistress perhaps as beautiful as Laura, and at least with Petrarch's passion if not his taste, led the way to great improvements in English poetry, by a happy imitation of Petrarch, and other Italian poets, who had been most successful in painting the anxieties of love with pathos and propriety.
Lord Surrey's life throws so much light on the character and subjects of his poetry, that it is almost impossible to consider the one, without exhibiting a few anecdotes of the other. He was the son and grandson of two lords treasurers dukes of Norfolk ; and in his early childhood discovered the most promising marks of lively parts and an active mind.
While a boy, he was habituated to the modes of a court at Windsorcastle; where he resided, yet under the care of proper instructors, in the quality of a companion to Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond, a natural son of king Henry the Eighth, and of the highest expectations.
This young nobleman, who also bore other titles and honours, was the child of Henry's affection; not so much on account of his hopeful abilities, as for a reason insinuated by lord Herbert, and at which those who know Henry's history and character will not be surprised, because he equally and strongly resembled both his father and mother.
A friendship of the closest kind commencing between these two illustrious youths, about the year 1530, they were both removed to Cardinal Wolsey's college at Oxford, then universally frequented, as well
* See supra, vol. ii. Sect. xxxv.
for the excellence as the novelty of its institution ; for it was one of the first seminaries of an English university, that professed to explode the pedantries of the old barbarous philosophy, and to cultivate the graces of polite literature. Two years afterwards, for the purpose of acquiring every accomplishment of an elegant education, the earl accompanied his noble friend and fellow-pupil into France, where they received king Henry, on his arrival at Calais to visit Francis the First, with a most magnificent retinue. The friendship of these two young noblemen was soon strengthened by a new tie; for Richmond married the lady Mary Howard, Surrey's sister. Richmond, however, appears to have died in the year 1536, about the age of seventeen, having never cohabited with his wife'. It was long, before Surrey forgot the untimely loss of this amiable youth, the friend and associate of his childhood, and who nearly resembled himself in genius, refinement of manners, and liberal acquisitions.
The FAIR GERALDINE, the general object of lord Surrey's passionate sonnets, is commonly said to have lived at Florence, and to have been of the family of the Geraldi of that city. This is a mistake, yet not entirely without grounds, propagated by an easy misapprehension of an expression in one of our poet's odes, and a passage in Drayton's heroic epistles. She was undoubtedly one of the daughters of Gerald Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare. But it will be necessary to transcribe what our author himself has said of this celebrated lady. The history of one who caused so memorable and so poetical a passion naturally excites curiosity, and will justify an investigation, which, on many a similar occasion, would properly be censured as frivolous and impertinent.
From Tuskane came my ladies worthy race ;
And Windsor, alas ! doth chase me from her sightd. These notices, it must be confessed, are obscure and indirect. But a late elegant biographer* has, with the most happy sagacity, solved
the difficulties of this little enigmatical ode, which had been before either neglected and unattempted as inexplicable, or rendered more unintelligible by false conjectures. I readily adopt Mr. Walpole's key to the genealogy of the matchless Geraldine
Her poetical appellation is almost her real name. Gerald Fitzgerald, above mentioned, earl of Kildare in the reign of Henry the Eighth, married a second wife, Margaret daughter of Thomas Gray, marquis of Dorset: by whom he had three daughters, Margaret, Elisabeth, and Cicely. Margaret was born deaf and dumb; and a lady who could neither hear nor answer her lover, and who wanted the means of contributing to the most endearing reciprocations, can hardly be supposed to have been the cause of any vehement effusions of amorous panegyric. We may therefore safely pronounce Elisabeth or Cicely to have been Surrey's favorite. It was probably Elisabeth, as she seems always to have lived in England.
Every circumstance of the sonnet evidently coincides with this state of the case. But, to begin with the first line, it will naturally be asked, what was lady Elisabeth Gerald's connection with Tuscany? The beginnings of noble families, like those of nations, often owe somewhat to fictitious embellishment: and our genealogists uniformly assert, that the family of Fitzgerald derives its origin from Otho, a descendant of the dukes of Tuscany: that they migrated into England under the reign of king Alfred, whose annals are luckily too scanty to contradict such an account; and were from England speedily transplanted into Ireland. Her father was an Irish earl, resident at his earldom of Kildare; and she was consequently born and nursed in Ireland. Her mother, adds the sonnet, was of princely parentage. Here is a no less exact correspondence with the line of the lady's pedigree: for Thomas, marquis of Dorset, was son of queen Elizabeth Gray, daughter of the duchess of Bedford, descended from the royal house of Luxemburgh. The poet acquaints us, that he first saw her at Hunsdon. This notice, which seems of an indifferent nature and quite extraneous to the question, abundantly corroborates our conjecture. Hundsdon-house in Hertfordshire was a new palace built by Henry the Eighth, and chiefly for the purpose of educating his children. The lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald was second cousin to Henry's daughters the princesses Mary and Elisabeth, who were both educated at Hunsdonf. At this royal nursery she therefore tasted of costly foode with kinges childe, that is, lived while a girl with the young princesses her relations, as a companion in their education. At the same time, and on the same plan, our earl of Surrey resided at Windsor-castle, as I have already remarked, with the young duke of Richmond. It is natural to suppose, that he sometimes visited the princesses at Hunsdon, in company with the young duke their brother, where he must have also seen the fair Geraldine : yet by the
e Catal. Roy. and Noble Authors, vol. i. | Strype, Eccl. Mem. vol. i. Append. p. 105. edit. 1759.
nature of his situation at Windsor, which implied a degree of confinement, he was hindered from visiting her at Hunsdon so often as he wished. He therefore pathetically laments.
Windsor, alas, doth chase me from her sight! But although the earl first beheld this lady at the palace of Hunsdon, yet, as we further learn from the sonnet, he was first struck with her incomparable beauty, and his passion commenced, at Hampton-court.
Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine! That is, and perhaps on occasion of some splendid masque or carousal, when the lady Elisabeth Fitzgerald, with the princesses Mary and Elisabeth, and their brother Richmond, with the young lord Surrey, were invited by the king to Hampton-court.
In the mean time we must remember, that the lord Leonard Gray, uncle to lord Gerald Fitzgerald, was deputy of Ireland for the young duke of Richmond : a connection, exclusive of all that has been said, which would alone account for Surrey's acquaintance at least with this lady. It is also a reason, to say no more, why the earl should have regarded her from the first with a particular attention, which afterwards grew into the most passionate attachment. She is supposed to have been maid of honour to queen Catharine. But there are three of Henry's queens of that name. For obvious reasons, however, we may venture to say,
Catharine Howard was Geraldine's queen. It is not precisely known at what period the earl of Surrey began his travels. They have the air of a romance. He made the tour of Europe in the true spirit of chivalry, and with the ideas of an Amadis ; proclaiming the unparalleled charms of his mistress, and prepared to defend the cause of her beauty with the weapons of knight-errantry. Nor was this adventurous journey performed without the intervention of an enchanter. The first city in Italy which he proposed to visit was Florence, the capital of Tuscany, and the original seat of the ancestors of his Geraldine. In his way thither, he passed a few days at the emperor's court; where be became acquainted with Cornelius Agrippa, a celebrated adept in natural magic. This visionary philosopher showed our hero, in a mirror of glass, a living image of Geraldine, reclining on a couch, sick, and reading one of his most tender sonnets by a waxen taper8. His imagination, which wanted not the
8 Drayton, Her. Epist.—Howard to Geraldine, v. 57.
[Mr. Warton certainly seems to speak as though this visionary display of the fair Geraldine had been an actual exhibition; whereas it was the romantic invention of Tom Nash in his fanciful Life of Jacke Wilton, printed in 1594. Nash under the character of his hero professes to have travelled in company with Lord Henry low
ard, earl of Surrey, as his page. On proceeding to the Emperor's court it was agreed between them to change names and characters, that the earl might take more liberty of behaviour; and becoming familiarly acquainted with Cornelius Agrippa, “I, (says Nash,) because I was his suborned Lorde and Master, desired him to see the lively image of Geraldine, his love, in the glasse, and what at that