1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Beaumont

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 145-46.



Sir John Beaumont was one who Drank as deep Draughts of Helicon as any of that Age; and though not many of his Works are Extant, yet those we have be such as are displayed on the Flags of highest Invention; and may justly Stile him to be one of the chief of those great Souls of Numbers. He wrote besides several other things, a Poem of Bosworth Field, and that so ingeniously, as one thus writes of it.

Could divine Maro, hear his Lofty Strain;
He would condemn his Works to fire again.

I shall only give you an Instance of some few lines out of the the aforesaid Poem, and so conclude.

Here Valiant Oxford, and Fierce Norfolk meet;
And with their Spears, each other rudely greet:
About the Air the shined Pieces play,
Then on their Swords their Noble Hand they lay.
And Norfolk first a Blow directly guides,
To Oxfords Head, which from his Helmet slides,
Upon his Arm, and biting through the Steel,
Inflicts a Wound, which Vere disdains to feel.
But lifts his Faulcheon with a threatning grace,
And hews the Beaver off from Howards Face,
This being done, he with compassion charm'd,
Retired asham'd to strike a man disarm'd.
But straight a deadly Shaft sent from a Bow,
(Whose Master, though far off, the Duke could know:)
Untimely brought this combat to an end,
And pierc'd the Brains of Richards constant Friend.
When Oxford saw him Sink his Noble Soul,
Was full of grief, which made him thus condole.
Farewell true Knight, to whom no costly Grave
Can give due honour, would my Tears might save
Those streams of Blood, deserving to be Spilt
In better service, had not Richard's guilt
Such heavy weight upon his Fortune laid,
Thy Glorious vertues had his Sins outweigh'd.