1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Churchyard

Nathan Drake, in Shakespeare and his Times (1817; 1838) 295-96.



This author merits notice rather for the quantity than the quantity of his productions, though a few of his pieces deserve to be rescued from utter oblivion. He commenced a writer, according to his own account, in the reign of King Edward the Sixth, and as Wood informs us, that at the age of seventeen he went to seek his fortune at court, and lived four years with Howard, Earl of Surry, who died 1546, it is probable that he was born about 1521. Shrewsbury had the honour of producing him, and he continued publishing poetical tracts until the accession of James the First. Ritson has given us a catalogue, which might be enlarged, of seventeen of his publications, with dates, from 1558 to 1599, independent of a variety of scattered pieces; some of these are of such bulk as to include from twelve to twenty subjects, and in framing their titles the old bard seems to have been very partial to alliteration; for we have Churchyards Chippes, 1575; Churchyards Choice, 1579; Churchyards Charge, 1580; Churchyards Change; Churchyards Chance, 1680; Churchyards Challenge, 1593; and Churchyards Charity, 1595. In the Mirror for Magistrates, first published in 1559, he contributed The Legend of Jane Shore, which he afterwards augmented in his "Challenge," by the addition of twenty-one stanzas. His Worthiness of Wales, also, first published in 1587, and reprinted a few years ago, is entitled to preservation. This painstaking author, as Ritson aptly terms him, died poor on April 4th, 1604, after a daily exertion of his pen, in the service of the Muses, for nearly sixty years.