1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Vaughan

Joseph Haslewood, "The Golden Fleece" British Bibliographer 2 (1812) 274-76.



The Golden Fleece, divided into three parts, under which are discovered the errours of Religion, the vices and decayes of the Kingdome, and lastly the wayes to get wealth, and to restore Trading so much complayned of. Transported from Cambrioll Colchos, out of the Southermost part of the Iland, commonly called the Newfoundland. By Orpheus Junior, for the generall and perpetuall good of Great Britaine. London: Printed for Francis Williams, and are to bee sold at his shop, at the signe of the Globe, over against the Royall Exchange. 1626. qto. parts 1 & 2. pp. 105. part 3, pp. 96, besides introduction and tables.

Dedicated in English and Latin verse to the King. An address "to the indifferent readers," observing:

"What a masse of treasure doe we yeerely spend in forreigne commodities? What abundance of silkes doe we consume on our backes? What a deale of gold and silver lace? While the wary Spaniard, who bath the Indies in possession, contents himselfe with his owne fashion and lesser moderation both in apparell and diet. The Dutch they follow no extravagant attires. Every man is distinguished in his ranke: some by wearing a copper chaine, others a silver, and the nobler a gold. In France the meaner sort of women weare hoods of taffata, others of satten, and the better of velvet. No man intrudes into anothers vocation. But with us, Joane is as good as my lady: citizens wines are of late growne gallants. The yeoman doth gentilize it. The gentleman scornes to be behind the nobleman. Yea, many are not ashamed to go as brave as the king. And if a wise man chance to taxe them for their prodigall humour, they will answere that it is for the credit of the kingdome."—

A second address is "to the uncharitable readers or deriders of our Golden Fleece:" verses in commendation by "John Gvy," "Stephen Berrier," and "John Mason."

An introduction sets forth "the occasion of this treatise, called the Golden Fleece; and the reasons which moved the author to intermingle merrie and light conceites among matters of consequence." The occasion is founded on a supposed conversation between his acquaintance Sir William Alexander, Master of the Requests, and Secretarie for Scotland; his antient friend, Master William Elveston, sometime Secretary to Elizabeth, then cupbearer to his Majesty; and the author. The drift may be gathered from that part where the learned Knight observes to him:

"You obtayned a patent of the southermost part of Newfoundland, and transplanted thither some of your countrimen of Wales, baptizing the same by the name of Cambrioll: so have I got a patent of the neighbouring country unto yours westward, beyond Cape Briton, christning it New Scotland. You have spent much and so have I in advancing these hopefull adventures. But as yet neither of us arrived at the haven of our expectations. Onely like a wary politician, you suspend your breath for a time, untill you can repaire your losses sustained by some of Sir Walter Raleigh's company in their returne from Guiana, while your neighbours the right honourable the Lord Viscount Falkland, and my Lord Baltimore, to whom you assigned the northerly part of your grant, doe undergoe the whole burthen, supporting it with a brave resolution and a great deale of expence, which otherwise you were obliged to performe. The like inconveniences I have felt, it cost me and my friends very deare, and brought us into much decrements, and hath wel nigh disheartned my poore countrymen, if at my humble suit, our most noble and generous king Charles had not out of his royall magnificence and respective care to us and our posterities restored and revived our courages by conferring such monies as might arise by the creation of Knight Baronets in Scotland, towards the erecting of this newe fabricke and heroicall action. And yet I feare all this will not suffice and defray the charge."

At the close of the conversation our author retires to his study to ruminate on some plot which might invite the worldlings for their present and future good to embrace the fortunes which this sister land offered. This produces an opening of the court of Apollo; discussions on the various subjects under the three heads in the title; and a long bickering at papists and lawyers. Among the persons introduced are Chaucer, Skelton, Scoggan, Wickliff, Broughton, Florio, our author, &c. &c. But as the Golden Fleece is not equally scarce as the above [The Golden Grove], it is needless to give further extract. The volume has some occasional pieces of poetry, which, as our author "went beyond most men of his time for Latin especially, and English poetry," might have been expected to rise some little above mediocrity.

J. H.