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except upon the supposition that even in Elizabeth's days the last drops from a famous pen, however dull they were, found publishers. Of dramatic conception or of power in dialogue it shows nothing; nor are the lyrics tuneful. There is plenty of flattery introduced, apparently to glut the queen's appetite for mud-honey, but yet so clumsily applied as to suggest a suspicion whether the poet were not laughing at her. The only character which reveals force of portraiture and humour is that of Rombus, the pedagogue, into whose mouth Sidney has put some longwinded speeches, satirising the pedantic and grossly ignorant style in vogue among village school-masters. Rombus, in fact, is a very rough sketch for the picture of Master Holofernes, as may be judged by his exordium to Queen Elizabeth
"Stage Direction.-Then came forward Master Rombus, and, with many special graces, made this learned oration :
"Now the thunder-thumping Jove transfund his dotes into your excellent formosity, which have, with your resplendent beams, thus segregated the enmity of these rural animals: I am 'potentissima domina,' a school-master; that is to say, a pedagogue, one not a little versed in the disciplinating of the juvenile fry, wherein, to my laud I say it, I use such geometrical proportion, as neither wanted mansuetude nor correction: for so it is described
"Parcare subjectos, et debellire superbos.'
Yet hath not the pulchritude of my virtues protected me from the contaminating hands of these plebeians; for coming, 'solummodo,' to have parted their sanguinolent fray, they yielded me no more reverence than if I had been some 'pecorius asinus.' I, even I, that am, who am I? 'Dixi; verbus sapiento satum est.' But what said that Trojan Æneas, when he sojourned in the surging sulks of the sandif
"Haec olim memonasse juvebit.'
Well, well, 'ad propositos revertebo;' the purity of the verity is, that
a certain 'pulchra puella profecto,' elected and constituted by the integrated determination of all this topographical region, as the sovereign lady of this dame Maia's month, hath been, 'quodammodo,' hunted, as you would say; pursued by two, a brace, a couple, a cast of young men, to whom the crafty coward Cupid had, ' inquam,' delivered his dire dolorous dart."
During this summer Philip obtained a place at Court, the importance of which his friend Languet seems to have exaggerated. Zouch says it was the post of cup-bearer to the queen; and in this statement there is no improbability, but there is also nothing to warrant it. At any rate the office failed to satisfy his ambition; for he wrote complainingly, as usual, of the irksomeness of Court existence. How disagreeable that must in some respects have been is made clear to us by Lady Mary's letters in the autumn of this year. She was expecting her husband home from Ireland. He had to reside with her at Hampton Court, where she could only call one bedroom her own. To the faithful Molineux she writes:
"I have thought good to put you in remembrance to move my Lord Chamberlain in my Lord's name, to have some other room than my chamber for my Lord to have his resort unto, as he was wont to have; or else my Lord will be greatly troubled, when he shall have any matters of despatch: my lodgings, you see, being very little, and myself continually sick and not able to be much out of my bed. For the night-time one roof, with God's grace, shall serve us. For the daytime, the queen will look to have my chamber always in a readiness for her Majesty's coming thither; and though my Lord himself can be no impediment thereto by his own presence, yet his Lordship, trusting to no place else to be provided for him, will be, as I said before, troubled for want of a convenient place for the despatch of such people as shall have occasion to come to him. Therefore, I pray you, in my Lord's own name, move my Lord of Sussex for a room for that purpose, and I will have it hanged and lined for
him with stuff from hence. I wish you not to be unmindful hereof; and so for this time I leave you to the Almighty.-From Chiswick, this 11th October 1578."
It would appear that Lady Mary's very modest request for a second room, which she undertook to furnish out of her own wardrobe, was not at once granted. Another letter to Molineux shows that he had made some progress in the matter, but had not succeeded. Hampton Court, she writes, however full it may be, has always several spare rooms. Perhaps there are those who “will be sorry my Lord should have so sure footing in the Court." Could not Molineux contrive the loan of a parlour for her husband in the daytime? Yet, after all," when the worst is known, old Lord Harry and his old Moll will do as well as they can in parting, like good friends, the small portion allotted our long service in Court." There is something half pathetic and half comic in the picture thus presented to our minds of the great Duke of Northumberland's daughter, with her husband, the Viceroy of Ireland and Wales, dwelling at hugger-mugger in one miserable chamber-she well-nigh bedridden, he transacting his business in a corner of it, and the queen momently expected upon visitations, not always, we may guess, of friendship or affection. Yet the touch of homely humour in the last sentence I have quoted from the noble lady's letter, sheds a pleasant light upon the sordid scene.
Studying the details of Court life both in Italy and England at this period, we are often led to wonder why noblemen with spacious palaces and venerable mansions of their own to dwell in-why men of genius whose brilliant gifts made them acceptable in every cultivated circle-should have submitted so complacently to its ignoble conditions. Even those who seemed unable to breathe outside the sphere
of the Court spoke most bitterly against it. Tasso squandered his health, his talents, nay, his reason, in that servitude. Guarini, after impairing his fortune, and wasting the best years of his manhood at Ferrara, retired to a country villa, and indulged his spleen in venomous invectives against the vices and the ignominies he had abandoned. Marino, who flaunted his gay plumage at Turin and Paris, screamed like a cockatoo with cynical spite whenever the word Court was mentioned. The only wise man of that age in Italy was the literary bravo Aretino. He, having debauched his youth in the vilest places of the Roman Courts, resolved to live a free man henceforth. Therefore he took refuge in Venice, where he caressed his sensual appetites and levied blackmail on society. From that retreat, which soon became a sty of luxury, he hurled back upon the Courts the filth which he had gathered in them. His dialogue on Court service is one of the most savage and brutally naked exposures of depravity which satirical literature contains. In England there was indeed a far higher tone of manliness and purity and personal independence at the Court than obtained in Italy. Yet listen to Spenser's memorable lines, obviously poured forth from the heart and coloured by bitterest experience:
"Full little knowest thou, that hast not tried,
To lose good days, that might be better spent;
To fret thy soul with crosses, and with cares;
To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
Therefore we return to wondering what it was in Courts which made gentlefolk convert broad acres into cash that they might shine there, which lured noblemen from their castles and oak-shaded deer-parks to occupy a stuffy bedroom in a royal palace, and squires from their moss-grown manor-houses to jolt along the roads on horseback in attendance on a termagant like Elizabeth or a learned pig like James I. The real answer to these questionings is that, in the transition from mediæval to modern conditions of life, the Court had become a social necessity for folk of a certain quality and certain aspirations. It was the only avenue to public employment; the only sphere in which a man of ambition, who was neither clerk in orders nor lawyer, could make his mark; the only common meetingground for rank, beauty, wealth, and genius. Thus it exercised a splendid fascination, the reflex of which is luminous in our dramatic literature. After reading those sad and bitter lines of Spenser, we should turn the pages of Fletcher's Valentinian, where the allurements of the Court are eloquently portrayed in the great scene of Lucina's attempted seduction. Or better, let us quote the ecstasies of Fortunatus from the most fanciful of Dekker's plays:—
"For still in all the regions I have seen,
I scorned to crowd among the muddy throng