1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Churchyard

John Payne Collier, in Poetical Decameron (1820) 2:89-90.



ELLIOT. Was Churchyard in much repute with his contemporaries?

BOURNE. That point is treated in Chalmers's Life, and you will find that while Gabriel Harvey abuses him, Thomas Nash greatly applauds his Tragedy of Shore's Wife. There is, however, one poet of the highest rank, I mean Spenser, who bestows a few compassionate lines upon him in his Colin Clouts come home again: this is not mentioned by Chalmers.

MORTON. Lord Buckhurst, Drayton, Alabaster, Daniel, and others, are there alluded to, but I do not recollect Churchyard.

BOURNE. The following four lines refer to him:

And there is old Palemon free from spight
Whose carefull pipe may make the hearer rew;
Yet he himselfe may rewed be more right,
Who sung so long "until quite hoarse he grew."

ELLIOT. As Churchyard is not named, how do you prove that the allusion is to him — by inference?

BOURNE. The description is almost sufficient, though it does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Todd when he published his edition of Spenser. But it is put beyond doubt by the following stanza in Churchyard's Pleasaunt Discourse of Court & Wars, 1596, which I found on looking over a variety of his productions. He is speaking of the Court, which he says is

The platform where all Poets thrive,
"Save one whose voice is hoarse they say;"
The stage where time away we drive,
As children in a pageant play;
To please the lookers on sometime
With words, with bookes, in prose or rime.

ELLIOT. That fixes the description upon him very satisfactorily. Colin Clouts come home again, was published in 1595.

BOURNE. In his Challenge, 1593, Churchyard had praised Spenser "in a new kind of Sonnet," the novelty of which consists in all the lines but the two last (twenty-two in number) rhyming to the words "war" and "show." He drearily laments, at the same time, his own incompetence, and the folly of his young overweening ambition. It is scarcely worth the trouble of reading, but you may find it in Cens. Lit. II. p. 309.