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imitation of the ancients, in which he succeeded beyond his hopes. Meanwhile Cardinal Beaton sent letters to the archbishop of Bordeaux to cause him to be apprehended; but these luckily fell into the hands of some of Buchanan's friends, who prevented their effect. Not long after he went into Portugal with Govianus, who had received orders from the king his master to bring him a certain number of men able to teach philosophy and classical learning in the university he had lately established at Coimbra. Every thing went well whilst Govianus lived; but after his death, which happened the year following, the learned men who followed him, and particularly Buchanan, who was a foreigner and had few friends, suffered every kind of illusage.
After cavilling with him a year and a half, his enemies, that they might not be accused of groundlessly harassing a man of reputation, sent him to a monastery for some months, to be better instructed by the monks. It was chiefly at this time that he translated the Psalms of David into Latin verse. In July 1554 he published his tragedy of Jephtha, with a dedication to Charles de Cossi, marshal of France; with which the marshal was so much pleased, that the year following he sent for Buchanan into Piedmont, and made him preceptor to his son. Buchanan spent five years with this youth, employing his leisure hours in the study of the Scriptures, that he might be the better able to judge of the controversies which at that time divided the Christian world. He returned to Scotland in 1563, and joined the reformed church in that kingdom. In the beginning of 1565 he went again to France, whence he was recalled the year following by Mary Queen of Scots, who had fixed upon him to be preceptor to her son, when that prince should be of a proper age to be put under his care, and in the meantime made him principal of St. Leonard's college in the University of St. Andrew's, where he resided four years. But upon the misfortunes of that queen, he joined the party of the Earl of Murray, by whose order he wrote his Detection, reflecting on the queen's character and conduct. He was by the states of the kingdom appointed preceptor to the young king James VI. He employed the last twelve or thirteen years of his life in writing the history of his country, in which he happily united the force and brevity of Sallust with the perspicuity and elegance of Livy. He died at Edinburgh, the 28th of February, 1582, aged 76. . SIR THOMAS WYAT.
(1503-1541.) Sir Thomas Wyat, the only son of Sir Henry Wyat of Allington Castle, Kent, was born 1503. His father was imprisoned in the Tower in the reign of Richard III., where he is said to have been preserved by a cat, which fed him while in that place; for which reason he was always pictured with a cat in his arms, or beside him.
After being educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, and at Christ Church, Oxford, young Wyat travelled for some time on the Continent; and then returned a gentleman of such high accomplishments, elegant manners, and conversational talents, as to attract the attention of all ranks, and particularly of his sovereign, who knighted him, and employed him in several embassies.
In him is said to have been combined the wit of Sir Thomas More and the wisdom of Sir Thomas Cromwell. It is no small confirmation of this character, that his friend Surrey describes him as of " a visage stern and mild.”
We are told that he brought about the Reformation by a bon-mot, and precipitated the fall of Wolsey by a seasonable story. When the king was perplexed respecting his divorce from Queen Catherine, which he affected to regard as a matter of conscience, Sir Thomas exclaimed, “Lord ! that a man cannot repent of his sin without the Pope's leave!” The story by which he promoted the fall of Wolsey has not descended to our times. Lloyd merely says that when the king happened to be displeased with Wolsey, “Sir Thomas ups with the story of the curs baiting the butcher's dog, which contained the whole method of that great man's ruin."
Sir Thomas was much courted for his splendid entertainments; his knowledge of the world ; his discernment in discovering men of talent, and his readiness to encourage them; and for the interest he was known to possess at court. It became a proverb, when any person received preferment, that “he had been in Sir Thomas Wyat’s closet.”
Amidst this prosperity he had the misfortune, like most of the eminent persons of his time, to fall under the severe displeasure of the king, and was twice imprisoned. Fuller tells us he “fell into disfavour about the business of Queen Anne Bullen ;” and some have gone so far as to accuse him of an amour with that queen. But he himself expressly imputes his first imprisonment to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. His second misfortune arose from the villany of Bonner, bishop of London, whose clownish manners, lewd behaviour, want of religion, and malicious perversion of truth, Sir Thomas paints with equal humour and asperity. The charges against him he repelled with great spirit, ease, and candour. He was tried before a committee of the council, and probably acquitted, as we find that he regained the confidence of the king, and was afterwards sent ambassador to the emperor. His eagerness to execute this commission, whatever it was, proved fatal; for riding fast in the heat of summer, he was attacked by a malignant fever, of which he died at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, 1541.
Sir Thomas was closely allied with Lord Surrey by friendship and similarity of taste and studies. His poems were first published by Tottle, with Lord Surrey's. The authenticity of Surrey's and Wyat’s poems seems to be confirmed by this care of Tottle to distinguish what he knew from what he did not know. He contributed but little to the refinement of English poetry, and his versification and language are deficient in harmony and perspicuity. From a close study of the Italian poets, his imagination dwells too often on puerile conceits. As a lover, his addresses are stately and pedantic, with very little mixture of feeling or passion ; and although detached beauties may be pointed out in a few of his sonnets, his genius was ill adapted to this species of poetry. In all respects he is inferior to his friend Surrey, and claims a place in the English series of poets chiefly as being the first polished satirist, and as having represented the vices and follies of his time in the true spirit of the didactic muse.
JOHN KAYE. POETS LAUREATE.
(Circa 1506.) The first mention of a king's poet, under the appellation of Laureate, occurs in the reign of Edward IV., by whom John Kaye was appointed to that office. It happens, however, singularly enough, that this proto-poet-laureate has left no pieces of poetry to prove his pretensions to his laureateship. The only composition he has transmitted to posterity is a prose English translation of a Latin history of the siege of Rhodes. In the dedication of this translation (printed 1506), addressed to King Edward, or rather in the title, Kaye styles himself hys humble Poete Laureate.
Great confusion has entered into this subject of poet-laureateship, on account of the degrees in grammar (which included rhetoric and versification) anciently taken in our universities, particularly at Oxford; on which occasion a wreath of laurel was presented to the new
graduate, who was afterwards styled Poeta Laureatus. These scholastic laureations seem to have given rise to the appellation in question. John Skelton, afterwards poet-laureate to Henry VIII., was created university poet-laureate at Oxford in 1489 or 1490, and at Cambridge in 1493. In March 1512, Edward Watson, a student in grammar, obtained a concession to be graduated and laureated in that science, on condition that he composed one hundred Latin verses in praise of the university, or a Latin comedy. He obtained the concession on the 18th of the same month.
Another grammarian, Richard Smith, was distinguished with the same badge in 1513, after having stipulated that, at the next public act, he would affix the same number of hexameters on the great gates of St. Mary's Church, that they might be seen by the whole university. This was at that period the most convenient mode of publication.
One Maurice Byrchynshaw, a scholar in rhetoric, supplicated, in the same year, to be admitted to read lectures that is, to take a degree in that faculty; and his petition was granted, with the provision that he should write one hundred verses on the glory of the university, and not suffer Ovid's Art of Love and the Elegies of Pamphilus to be studied by his auditory. In the same year, also, John Bulman, another rhetorician, having complied with the terms imposed, of explaining the first book of Tully's Offices, and likewise the first of his Epistles, without any pecuniary emolument, was graduated in rhetoric, and a crown of laurel was publicly placed on his head by the chancellor of the university.
With regard to the poet-laureate of the kings of England-an officer of the court remaining under that title to this day—he is undoubtedly the same that is entitled the King's Versifier, and to whom one hundred shillings were paid as an annual stipend in the year 1251; but when or how that title commenced, and whether this officer was ever solemnly crowned with laurel at his first investiture, we may not pretend to determine, after the researches of the learned Selden on this subject have proved unsuccessful. It seems most probable that the barbarous and inglorious name of Versifier gradually gave way to an appellation of more elegance and dignity; or rather, that at length those only were in general invited to this appointment who had received academical sanction, and had merited a crown of laurel in the universities for their abilities in Latin composition, particularly Latin versification. Thus the king's laureate was nothing more than a graduated rhetorician employed in the service of the king. That he originally wrote in Latin, Mr. Warton infers from the ancient title Versificator,' and may be, moreover, collected from the two Latin poems which Gulielmus and Baston (who appear to have respectively acted in the capacity of royal poets to Richard I. and Edward II.) officially composed on Richard's crusade and Edward's siege of Stirling Castle.
Andrew Bernard, successively poet-laureate to Henry VII. and Henry VIII., affords a still stronger proof that this officer was a Latin scholar. He was an Augustine monk, and not only the king's poetlaureate, as it is supposed, but his historiographer, and preceptor in grammar to Prince Arthur. He obtained many ecclesiastical preferments in England. All the pieces now to be found which he wrote in the character of poet-laureate are in Latin. He has left some Latin hymns; and many of his Latin prose pieces, which he wrote in the quality of historiographer to both monarchs, are remaining. An instrument relating to his laureateship, dated 1486, has no specification of any thing to be done officially by Bernard. The king merely grants to Andrew Bernard, Poete-Laureato (which we may construe Laureated Poet, or a Poet-Laureate), a salary of ten marks till he can obtain some equivalent appointment. Gower and Chaucer are by some writers said to have been poets laureate ; but this was certainly not the fact. Skelton (himself a laureate), in his Croune of Laurrell, sees Gower, Chaucer, and Lydgate approach. He describes their whole apparel as glittering with the richest precious stones, and then immediately adds, “They wanted nothing but the laurell.”
Mr. Warton is of opinion that it was not customary for the royal laureate to write in English till the reformation of religion had begun 'to diminish the veneration for the Latin language; or rather till the love of novelty and a better sense of things had banished the narrow pedantries of monastic erudition, and taught us to cultivate our native tongue.
The birthday of William III., in 1694, appears to have been officially celebrated by Tate, whom Rowe succeeded in the laureateship; and from the year 1718 a regular series may almost be traced of birthday and new-year odes. Warton, who, in his History of Poetry, laments "taste and genius as idly wasted on the most splendid subjects, when imposed by constraint and perpetually repeated,” gave an historical dignity and a splendour of poetical diction to those he composed, which would hardly, as Mr. Park truly observes, leave a reader to conceive that the subjects were “imposed by constraint.” His predecessor Whitehead strongly felt the irksome force of this constraint.
Mr. Southey condescended to dignify the office of poet-laureate on the death of “ Poet Pye” in 1813. It has since been certainly not less honoured in the person of Mr. Wordsworth ; and the laurel now