1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Peacham

John Payne Collier, "Prince Henrie Revived" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 3:166-69.



This is one of the rarest of Peacham's productions, and a copy of it has never been publicly sold. He tells the Princess Elizabeth in the Dedication, that he had written it in Latin as well as in English, although it only appears here in the latter language. He adds that it was composed "the most part in my travailes heere in the Low Countries upon the way, without other helpe then a bad memorie, and my Table booke, and now ended under that star of honour, and Honourer of your Grace and all vertuous Excellence, Sir John Ogle, Lord Governour of Utrecht, my noble friend." This epistle is dated "From Utrecht, the — of —," and the author apologizes for the late appearance of this tract after the birth of the Prince. He boasts in the outset of it, that the Princess had been pleased "heeretofore to take notice of him and his labours," but he does not mention to which of them she extended her patronage.

At the back of the title-page is an extremely good engraving of the young Prince, without any engraver's name, surrounded by four shields, and this inscription, "Henricus Fred: Com: Palat: Rheni et Bavar D. Filius et Haeres." Underneath are the following lines:—

Diva anima Augustos haud ementita parentes
Frontis honore, decus Rheni, spes una Britannum
Cresce per immensum, donec virtutibus annos
CAESAR avos titulis, fama superaris Olympum.
Henricus Peachamus.

The title-page and dedication are succeeded by a poem in six Spenserian stanzas, excepting the fifth, which, by some accident, is deficient of a line, although the sense seems complete. They are headed, "To the same most Excellent Princesse." The poem opens thus:—

Deare Henries losse, Elizas wedding day,
The last, the first, I sorrowed and song,
When laid my reedes for evermore away,
To sleep in silence Isle' shades among;
Dead to the Muse and many-headed throng,
Through hard constraint of fruitlesse Hope compell'd,
And Envie rife, that kills with canckred tongue
The sacred Bay, so honoured of eld,
Though left forlorne, ne now of Phcebns selfe upheld.

Where are the Summers when the righteous Maid
With ev'nest hand the heavenly Scale did wield,
And golden deed with golden meed repaid?
When Vertue was in price for Vertue held?
When Honours daintie but desert did guild,
And Poesie, in graces goodly seeme,
Rais'd her high thought with straines that Nectar still'd?
They are ascended with that glorious Queene,
And she, alas! forgot, as she had never beene."

These stanzas (not very complimentary to the living) are better than any part of the body of the work, which is in somewhat uncouth and harsh couplets, the author in the use of a few words aiming at an imitation of a more antique style. This may be seen in the very outset:—

Now, jocund Muses, to a hig[h]er string
We tune our Lyre, a loftie Theame to sing,
And leave a while the vale, to mounten up
With holder wing Parnassus heavenly top.

Again, just afterwards, we have these lines:—

I may not rash aread, but this I wot
How Janivere his bitter rage forgot,
For lustie greene y'chang'd his frostie gray,
As if he woed the sweet and daintie May.

And so on more or less throughout, though now and then the author seems to forget himself, and to mingle the modern style with the ancient. This remark will apply to the subsequent passage:—

But as ore Haemus, when the morne hath drawne
Her purple Curtaines, after early dawne,
To lay to view the goodly golden pawne,
Her new borne sonne y'wrapt in Rosie lawne;
Who now, awearie of his watrie bed,
Off shakes the dew from his bright burnish'd head,
And with Ambrosian smile, and gentle cheare,
Revives the world that wanted him whileare,
So us, thine owne, thou gladdest with thy birth,
The welcome-welcomst stranger upon earth.

The following is a pretty enumeration of the flowers which the earth is to produce for the young Prince:—

Wood-Nymphes the shadie violets shall pull,
And bring thee Lillies by whole baskets full;
Some crop the Rose, to shew thee how in graine
That crimson Venus bleeding hand did staine;
How from that daintie daughter of the morne,
And silken leaves thy lovely selfe art borne;
Or Primrose, with the Kings enamell'd cup,
(Whose Nectar Phoebus early quaffeth up)
The Amaranth arraied in velvet still,
Sweet Rhododaphne, and the Daffadill;
Soft Marjoram, the yong Ascanius bed,
When Cupid kist and courted in his sted
The fraile Anemon, Hyacinthns soft,
The Ladie-glove, Coronis weeping oft,
And whatsoever else the pleasant spring
Throwes from her bosome formost flourishing.

A marginal note is inserted opposite the couplet "How from that daintie daughter," &c., in these terms, "As discended from the united Rose of Lancaster and Yorke." Opposite the mention of Ascanius we read "Virg. Aeneid 1," and these explanatory comments are everywhere freely supplied.

The poem has no design, but is a rambling laudatory and emblematical composition, far from discreditable to Peacham's taste, scholarship, and general knowledge, if we are to take literally what he says in the dedication respecting his want of helps and literary references. He has certainly left nothing better behind him.