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Warton, “ a disguising were intended by the com. pany of goldsmiths,-a mask before his majesty at Eltham,-a May-game for the sheriffs and aldermen of London,-a mummery before the Lord Mayor,-a procession of pageants from the Creation for the festival of Corpus Christi,-or a carol for the coronation, Lydgate was consulted and gave the poetry.”_He must have been the busiest man of his time, and one to whom nothing came amiss : he traded in verse before the division of labour was understood. Lydgate is mentioned with contempt by Percy, scoffed at by Ritson, and pronounced stupid by Pinkerton. A critic in whom as much confidence may be placed, Gray the poet, places him next in rank to Chaucer, and before the chilling mediocre " Ancient Gower.” The principal works of Lydgate are, The History of Thebes, The Fall of Princes, and The Siege of Troy. The following passage, pointed out by Gray, has great sweetness and feeling :
Out of her swoone when she did abbraide,
* * * *
That thou mayst after some mynd on us have,
I hold him strictly twene my armès twein,
On thee and me dependeth the trespace
A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Lydgate's poem, called The Life of our Lady, opens thus elegantly :
O thoughtfull hertè, plonged in distresse
This sterre in beautie passith Pleiades,
The antiquaries, who magnify their favourites beyond all reasonable bounds, have been less than just to this clever, facile, and often elegant poet. The exact period of Lydgate's death is not known, It is placed about the year 1460.
From the decease of Lydgate, till near the splendid period of the reign of Elizabeth, there is a dreary void in English poetry, illumined only by those distant northern lights that streamed from Scotland. The first of these, in point of precedence and cultivation, if not of genius, is James I.,
(a) Sphere. () Affright; remove.
(d) Burnished with gold.
(c) Float ; drop. (e) Prologue.
who was born in 1395,-a few years before the death of Chaucer. His history and adventures are well known. He was made prisoner at sea, when a boy of ten years old, on his way to France to be educated at the court of Charles VI., and remained the captive of Henry IV. for twenty years, a period which he sedulously employed in the cul. tivation of his naturally happy genius, and in acquiring the accomplishments suited to his age and rank. Besides that skill in polite letters, of which his poetry leaves unquestionable proof, he excelled in all martial and knightly exercises, in music, wrestling, archery ; but, above all, he, as Sir Da. vid Lyndsay afterwards counselled one of his successors, “ learned to be a king.” James returned to his native kingdom not only the most accomplished prince, but the wisest sovereign in Europe ; and in his short reign of twelve years did more to improve the condition of his subjects than had been done for ages before. Unhappily for his country, this illustrious prince was assassinated at Perth in the prime of his life, and before he had been able to carry into effect the excellent plans which his enlightened judgment suggested, and which his inflexible justice and energy of character would soon have accomplished. During his long captivity at Windsor, James saw and loved the Lady Jane Beaufort, the grand-daughter of John of Gaunt. This passion was his inspiration ; and his poem of the King's Quair celebrates his mistress, records his own story, and laments his captivity and pros
pects. Love repaid this devotion ; and James obtained the Lady Jane, was restored to his liberty, and gained his throne, in consequence of an union which was supposed to attach him through his Queen to the interests of England, and to separate him from those of France, the natural ally of the Scottish monarchy. Romance never ended better than this tale of real life.
The King sees the Lady Jane from his prison window at Windsor, walking in a garden with her ladies at a very early hour :
The longe dayes and the nightis eke
I would bewail my fortune in this wise ;
Early as day : 0 happy exercise !
Despaired of all joy and remedy,
Unto the window gan I walk in hie,
To see the world and folk that went forby; As, for the time, though I of mirthis food Might have no more) to look it did me good.
A garden fair; and in the corners set
Railed about, and so with treeis set