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"There's but a summer past; the golden sunne,
Shee hath but once with this her train given place
The incidents of the poem, which are detailed with a prolixity which would exhaust the patience of any one but a reviewer, may be comprised in a very few words. The supposed narrator of the tale, in his travels is bewildered in
"a desart place
Spreading their branches with that large extent,
To browse or feed upon those plaines, though greene:
Did e'er graze there, nor hath the sharpe-edg'd plough
No house or cottage on that ground did stand;
Unlesse 'twere such whose chirping notes did sound
It seem'd to be the seate of pensive care,
The traveller, at last, reaches a stately but dismal mansion, where he is hospitably welcomed, and courteously entertained by Arnalte, the melancholy owner. The latter relates to his guest the cause of his voluntary seclusion in this desert place: he was a native of Thebes, and in viewing the funeral of "an eminent man, in Thebes' city known," became enamoured of the charms of his grieving daughter, Lucenda, who is thus delineated:
-" his daughter, who, alas! did seeme
For shee with shreekes, and sad lamenting cryes,
In that abundant manner, as if all
The rainy showeres had beene forc'd to fall,
Shee rent in peeces, with her snow-white hands
Disheveled her curious breded bands:
The winds enamour'd
At the faire prospect of so rich a sight,
Breath'd forth their milder gales, and gently blew
She did unroote
Like polish'd ivory doth her fore-head shine;
As sparkling diamonds shine her splendent eyes,
Her nose well featur'd, of the handsom'st mould,
Her organ-voyce it well may paralell
Her breath so fragrant, that it doth surscent
After besieging this paragon for a long time with speeches and letters of an unmerciful length, which she relished as little as our readers would do were we to extract them, just as he began to entertain hopes of success, he is overwhelmed by the intelligence of her marriage with his friend Yerso, the confident of his love. Enraged at this deception, he challenges his successful rival to single combat before the king-his invitation is accepted the combat commences with due formality.
"our lances being burst,
A fray so bloody, that the crimson gore
Grew faint with striking and through losse of blood,
Which flowed from us like a purple flood.
But to be briefe, I gain'd the victory,
And Yerso vanquisht at my feet did lye."
The faithless Yerso expires on the spot, and the widowed Lucenda retires to a convent, in spite of the renewed courtship of the victor, who, inconsolable for her loss, forsakes his native city, and secludes himself in the desert place where he was found by the traveller. We shall conclude our notice of this very unequal production, with two descriptive extracts.
"a morning which with ruddy lookes
Did drive dim mists from off the silver brookes,
As if Aurora, clad in purple gay,
Had chas'd blacke night, and brought on cheerefull day,
"The daie's great king, bright-ey'd Hyperion,
ART. V. Toxophilus, the Schole or Partitions of Shootinge, contayned in II Bookes. Written by Roger Ascham, 1544, and now newlye perused. Pleasaunt for all Gentlemen and Yomen of Englande. For theyr pastime to reade, and profitable for theyr use to folowe both in warre and peace. Anno 1571. Imprinted at London in Fletestreate, neare to Saint Dunstone's Churche, by Thomas Marshe.
Ascham is a great name in our national literature. He was one of the first founders of a true English style in prose composition, and one of the most respectable and useful of our
scholars. He was amongst the first to reject the use of foreign words and idioms, a fashion, which in the reign of Henry the Eighth began to be so prevalent, that the authors of that day, by" usinge straunge wordes, as Latine, Frenche, and Italian, did make all thinges darke and harde." It required some virtue moreover in Ascham, attached as he was to the study of the learned languages, to abstain from mingling them with his English compositions, especially when the public taste countenanced such innovations. But Ascham's mind was too patriotic to permit him to think, that his native tongue could be improved by this admixture of foreign phrases, an opinion which he illustrates by this comparison;-" but if you put malvesye and sacke, redde wyne and white, ale and beere, and al in one pot, you shall make a drincke not easye to be knowen, nor yet holsome for the bodye." In obedience to the precept of Aristotle,-to think like the wise, but to speak like the common people; Ascham set a successful example of a simple and pure taste in writing, and we question whether we do not owe more to him on this account, than even for the zeal which he displayed in the cultivation of the Greek language, during its infancy amongst us.
We admire the character of Roger Ascham on three accounts; first, he was a scholar by profession; secondly, he was a chess-player; and thirdly, he was an archer ;-let us use his own word, a shooter. As a scholar, he was acute, learned, and laborious; attached to literature from his earliest years, and pursuing it with honour to himself and benefit to others, to the termination of his life. At an early age, he entered the university; and in his twenty-first year, when the alumni of our day are only about to enter on their academical education, he was diligently employed in expounding the Greek authors to his fellow students. His talents ensured him that moderate reward which is sufficient to satisfy the honest wishes of a man of letters; he became a fellow of a college; he received a remuneration for delivering a course of lectures on the study of Greek, there being, at that time, no professorship of that language; and to complete the measure of his prosperity, he was presented by his majesty with an ample salary of ten pounds a year. On the change of the national religion, his known attachment to Protestantism procured him favour at court; while his high character for learning and integrity, insured him protection during the reign of Mary. The honourable situation which he filled, as tutor to Elizabeth, speaks highly of his talents. The tutor and his royal pupil used occasionally to relax from the severity of their studies, and enjoy the luxury of a game at chess," that admirable effort of the human mind," as Warton calls it; and when a less sedentary amusement was required,