1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Lok

John Payne Collier, "Ecclesiastes" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 2:262-66.



This volume is more especially valuable because it contains at the end, after the table of contents, sixty sonnets not mentioned in the title, and accompanying only three known copies of the work. They are addressed to many of the chief nobility, male and female, of the court of Elizabeth, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Burghley, the Earl of Essex, Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, Lord Cobham, Lord North, Lord Buckhurst, the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Southampton, Lord Hunsdon, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Sir Edward Dyer, Fulke Greville, Richard Carew of Anthony, the Marchioness of Northampton, the Countess of Derby, the Countess of Essex, Lady Rich, Lady Carey, Lady Wolley, &c., &c., and ending with a sonnet "To all other his honorable and beloved friends in generall." The last but three is to "the Lady D.," with whom Lok claims kindred, and, as none of his biographers have mentioned the connection, it is on this account, if on no other, worthy of quotation:—

TO THE VERTUOUS LADY THE LADY D.
If kinred be the neerenesse of the blood,
Or likenesse of the mind in kind consent;
Or if it be like pronenesse unto good,
Or mutual liking by two parties ment;
If kindnesse be in truth a firme intent
With open heart to testifie good-will;
If true good-will be to contentment bent,
If true contentment cannot be in ill;
I know you will repute this token still
A pledge of kinsmans love in ech degree;
Which though it do your treasure litle fill,
Yet way to perfect wealth will let you see.
My selfe in kindnesse wish and hope in you,
Profit of mind, and soules content t' insue.

As this portion of the work is of extreme rarity, we will insert two other sonnets:—

TO THE RIGHT HO. KNIGHT, SIR THOMAS EGERTON,
LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEALS OF ENGLAND.
What fame reports (by mouth of good and wise)
It is not flattery to record the same.
The publike eccho of your prayse doth rise,
That you by justice ballance judgement frame.
Then may you not my pen of boldnesse blame,
If it present to your impartiall eye
This holy worke, to shield it with your name,
Which may among prophane in daunger ly.
Wise Salomon child's parent true did try,
And Danish false accusers fraud bewray
By searching hearts effects and words, whereby
Ones fained love, the others guilt to way.
So judge this worke, and him shall it deprave;
So I desire you justice prayse shall have.

TO THE VALOROUS KNIGHT, SIR WALTER RAWLEIGH,
LORD WARDEN OF THE STANNERIE, AND CAPTAINE OF THE GUARD.
Of happinesse when as I hapt to write
Me thoughts did make a period (Sir) in you,
Who being sworne to Mars, and Pallas knight,
They both with equall honor did endew,
And therefore might become a censurer trew
Of greatest blessings men propound or find.
Vouchsafe you then this tract thereof to vew,
As if that Salomon had it assignd:
Whose interest in you expects your kind
And grate acceptance of his grave advise,
From whom (though many other men were blind)
He chalengeth a doome right godly and wise.
But as for me, his messenger, suffiseth
The prayse to truely speake what he deviseth.

It is quite clear from the title-page that Lok's Christian Passions had been printed before they appeared in this volume, but no earlier edition of them has, we believe, come down to us.

The copy of his Ecclesiastes, in the Bridgewater library, was no doubt presented by the author to Lady Wolley, a duplicate of the sonnet at the end to her being pasted on the fly-leaf facing the title, and her autograph being upon the other side of the same fly-leaf.

The complete work is dedicated in prose to Queen Elizabeth, followed by an address "To the Christian Reader," and commendatory verses in Latin by A. H. S., Joh. Lily, and L. P.; in English by H. A. and M. C. The main poem is introduced by a Sonnet to the Queen. There is anew title-page for the Sundry Christian Passions, which are dedicated to the Queen in a page of peculiar verse. A preliminary address to the Reader introduces three hundred and twenty sonnets, to the whole of which a table is added.

An error which has crept into the various accounts of Henry Lok and his works may here be corrected. It originated with Ritson, and has been repeated by Dr. Bliss, (Wood's Ath. Oxon. 1. 662.) It has been supposed that he was the author of a work entitled Of Love's Complaints with the Legend of Orpheus and Euridice, 12mo, 1597, (see post, p. 281,) because the initials H. L. are at the end of the dedication to "Ma: Anthonie Gibsonne." The fact is that the work was printed for Humphrey Lownes the bookseller, who prefixed a dedication, and put his own initials H. L. to it.

The two following letters, which we copy from the originals and print for the first time, are biographically interesting, and show that Lok, both in 1596 and in 1598, before and after the publication of his Ecclesiastes, was a solicitor to Sir Robert Cecill for a small public appointment:—

"Right Honourable. By your countenans had my travels thair first grace, and my hopes thair first comfortes, which (with your honours present fartherans) I doupt not shal sort to sum present stay of my nedy state. For I am by the Lady of Warwick incoraged to make use of hir highness gratius inclination towards me, which to farther she offereth her honourable assistans. Wherto (I having had lately so ample testimony of your honours most effectuall indevors) I am the more incoraged to bend my self, and doupt not (God now moving your honourable hart to the fartherans therof) but it may prove to the competent stay of me and my poore family herafter, whose passed deserts, if they have not bin according to the proporsion of my many resalved favors, yet God may in future time bles to the testification of my dutiful memory therof. May it then please your honour to vowtsafe me the direction of my coors herin, and to procure me your honourable fathers alowans therof, which (sins Monopolies ar scandalus, Reversions of offices uncertain, Concealments litigius, and Forfetyrs but rarely recovered) I must be forsed to attempt by craving of porsion of hir mistress lands by leas or feefarm; or sum Pension til an office or forfeture may fall to my relefe. Wherin I beseech your honour to excuse my boldnes, sine my sute is not for to consume on vanities, but on the mere necessitis of life and dischardg of honest dutis. Wherin the favor which I shal by your honourable travel resaive, I hope God shal bountifully requit to you and your posterity. To whos gratius protection I, in all singularity of hart, commit your honour, and my servis to your honours perpetual command. This 16th of Janu. 1597. Your honour in all duty.

HENRY LOK."

"Right Honourable. Understanding that by the death of Mr. Ralph Bows divers things retorn to hir Mistress disposition of thaim, I thowght good to crave your he favor in renuing to hir highness memory hir late promis to releve my estate (which to be performed was referred to your honourable retorn) and the dayly occasions pressing me to solicit the same, as to my grefe and your troble to much known unto yourself. What is fit for me, or that I am fit for, is in hir Mistress pleasure to censure, and by your honours woonted favor most likely to be bettered; which, whatever it prove (so it protect me from beggery and reproche) shal be as much as I desire, who weld rather have my deserts, then woords, pleade for me: if God had in any caling inabeled me to serve hir Majesty, and to appere thankful to your be, by whom only I as yet brethe in the hope of a good issue of my long sute. It is better to be a Beareherd, then to be bayted dayly with great exclamations for smal depts. But I dowbt I shal speak to late for things now: when menn are deade so many are redy even to justil with the living for preferment in this adge. I knowe my lot shal fall where God hath designed, and trust your her shal be the happy Dove to give token of rest to my floting fortune. To whos servis (even in al most particular dutis and imploienses) without any respect of trains or perils I protest I shal most redely, whilst I live, dedicate al my powres, so far as shal be commanded. And thus craving pardon of this my forsed importunasy, grownded on the occasion thus offered, I commend my petition to your honours best oportunity, and your honour to the protection of the Almighty. Your honours in al duty.

HENRY LOK."

The date of this last communication is ascertained from the indorsement, viz. 8 June, 1598. The indorsement of the previous letter is 1596 instead of 1597, the Secretary and Lok commencing the year at different periods, as was then not unusual. From the second letter we see that Lok was a candidate for the office of Keeper of the Queen's Bears and Mastiffs, held by Ralph Bowes until his decease. We feel the more interest about Henry Lok and his Ecclesiastes, because we take him to have been the son of Michael Lok, civis Londinensis, who dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney one of the two maps in Hakluyt's Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America, &c., 1582.

Admitting the great value and general accuracy of the reprint of this work by the Hakluyt Society in 1850, we may here mention that in the title-page alone (which professes to be, in all respects, a fac-simile) there are five variations from the original (with both the maps) now before us. The old spelling is very inaccurately observed; but with reference to p. 26 we may remark that Sebastian is never spelt Sebastion, and that in the next line the transcriber has misread "tact" and written "cast"; while on a previous page, 20, the day of the month is entirely omitted. On p. 33, as well as on p. 54, one word is given for another. On p. 93, "the" is put for "and"; on p. 111, "of" is converted into "and," while the word "trees" is left out. The same objection may be urged as regards p. 115; and on p. 135 nonsense is made of an important passage by printing "considerate" instead of "confederate." Without going farther, we may add that the two original letters of Hakluyt, which the learned and able editor did not know where to find, (Introd. viii.,) were formerly preserved in the State Paper Office, but have now, of course, been removed. They were, when we copied them, among the Domestic Papers of 1584.