1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Lok

Thomas Park, in Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 173.



Ecclesiastes, otherwise culled the Preacher: containing Salomans Sermons or Commentaries (as it may probably be collected) upon the 49 psalme of David his father. Compendiously abridged, and also paraphrastically dilated in English poesie, according to the analogie of Scripture, and consent of the most approved writer thereof. Composed by W. L. Gentleman. Whereunto are annexed sundrie sonets of Christian Passions heretofore printed, and now corrected and augmented, with other affetionate sonets of a feeling conscience, of the same authors. (Ps. cxliv. 3, 4. motto.) London: Printed by Richard Field, dwelling in the Blacke-friers neare Ludgate. 1597, 4to.

Dedicated "to the ladie of rarest vertues Q. Eliz. by her Highnes' faithfull subject, Henrie Lok." Certaine poems to the author of the worke are signed,

A. H. S. (Lat.)
John Lilly, (ib.)
L. P. (ib.)
H. A. (Eng.)
M. C. (Eng.)
Sonnet to the Queen's most excellent Majestie.
Ecclesiastes Paraphrased, to chap. 12, (17 pages.)
Sonnet. " Adue to world's vaine delight."
Sundry Psalmes of David translated into verse, as briefly and significantly, as the scope of the text will suffer, by the same author. (Ps. 27, 71, 119, 121, 130.)
Sundry Christian Passions, contained in two hundred Sonnets. Divided into two equall parts: the first consisting chiefly of meditations, humiliations, and prayers; the second, of comfort, Joy, and Thanksgiving. By H. L. London, Printed by Richard Field, 1597.
Dedicated "to the right renowned vertuous Virgin Elizabeth, worthy Queene of happie England." (A sonnet.)
A square in verse of a 100 monosyllables only: describing the cause of England's happinesse.

After the 200 sonnets follow

"Sundry affectionate sonets of a feeling conscience," 100 in number, with an epilogue-sonnet.)
"An Introduction to peculiar prayers." 20 Sonnets; with a prefatory and concluding sonnet.
Sonnets of the Author to divers, collected by the printer; and thus severally addresed,
To the Abp. of Canterbury.
To Sir Tho. Egerton, Ld. Keeper.
To Ld. Burghley, Ld. High Treasurer.
To the Earl of Essex, Great Master of the Horse.
To Ld. Cha. Howard of Efflngham, Ld High Admiral.
To Ld. Cobham, Ld. Chamberlaine of the Household.
To Ld. North, Treasurer of the Household.
To Ld. Buckhurst.
To Sir Wm. Knowles, Controller of the Household.
To Sir John Fortescue, Chancellor of the Exehequer.
To Sir Robt. Cecil, Knt. Principal Secretary.
To the E. of Oxford, Ld. Great Chamberlain of England
To the Earle of Northumberland.
To the E. of Shrewsburie.
To the E. of Cumberland.
To the E. of Sussex.
To the E. of Southampton.
To the Ld. Zouch.
To Ld. Willoughbie of Eresbie.
To Ld. Burrowes.
To Ld. Mountjoy.
To the Ld. of Hunsdon.
To Toby [Mathews,] Bp. of Duresme.
To Sir John Popham, Knt. Ld. Chief Justice of England.
To Sir Edmund Anderson, Knt. Ld. Ch. Just. of the Common Pleas.
To Sir Wm. Perram, Knt. Ld. Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
To Sir Wm. Russell, Ld. Deputie of Ireland.
To Sir. W. Raleigh, Ld. Warden of the stanneries.
To Sir John Norris, Ld. Generall of her Majesty's forces in Ireland.
To Sir Francis Veare.
To Sir John Stanhop, Treasurer of the Chamber to her Majesty.
To Sir Edw. Dyer, Chr. of the order of the Garter.
To Sir Hen. Killegrew.
To Robt. Bowes, Esq Embassadour to Scotland.
To Fulke Grevill, Esq. (afterwards Lord Brooke.)
To the Rev. Dr. Andrews, Professor in Divinitie.
To Richd. Carew of Anthony, Esq.
To Robt. Moyle of Bake, Esq.
To Lady Marquisse of Northampton.
To the Countess of Darby.
To the Countess of Cumberland
To the Countess of Warwicke.
To the Countess of Pembrooke.
To the Countess of Essex.
To Lady Scroope.
To Lady Rich.
To the Lady of Hunsdon.
To Mrs. Eliz. and Anne Russel.
To Mrs. Eliz. Bridges.
To Lady Southwell.
To Lady Cecill.
To Lady Hobbye.
To Lady Layton.
To Lady Woollie.
To Lady Carey.
To Mrs. E. Bowes.
To the Ladies Attendants in the Court.
To his Honourable and beloved friends.
To the Gentlemen Courtiers in generall.

A single specimen of these plausive sonnettings is likely to suffice and the following has been chosen, as it is particularly specified by our poetical historian, and quoted by Mr. Todd in his edition of Spenser.

To the Right Honorable the Lord of Buckhurst.
As you of right impart, with peeres in sway
Of common weale, wherein by you we rest;
So hold I fit to yeeld you every way
That due, the which my powre affoordeth best
But when I call to mind, your pen so blest,
With flowing liquor of the Muses' spring
I feare your daintie care can ill digest
The harsh-tun'd notes, which on my pipe I sing.
Yet since the ditties of so wise a king,
Can not so lose their grace, by my rude hand,
But that our wisedome can conforme the thing
Unto the modell doth in margent stand;
I you beseech blame not (though you not prayse)
This work, my gift; which on your favour stayes."

Wood terms Henry Lok, "a divine poet;" from the portions of scripture, doubtless, which he undertook to paraphrase; but Warton, with more philological propriety, denominated him the Maevius of his age. "Lok however (he candidly adds) applied the sonnet to a spiritual purpose, and substituting christian love in the place of amorous passion, made it the vehicle of humiliation, holy comfort, and thanksgiving." So, it may be observed, did Barnes in a century of sonnets, printed in 1595, and intended hereafter to be noticed, In a dramatic satire on the poets of the time, entitled "The Return from Parnassus," Lok is thus coupled with Hudson, a partial translator of Du Bartas, and a panegyrist of Scottish poets; "Locke and Hudson, sleep you, quiet shavers, among the shavings of the press, and let your books lie in some old nook amongst old boots and shoes: so, you may avoid my censure." Wood informs us, that Lok having either taken a degree, or had it conferred at Oxford, retired to the court, and was received into the patronage of a noble Mecaenas. In this courtly retirement probably it was, and under the roof of his noble Mecaenas, that he placed the calendarium regiae, or red-book for 1597, before his tranced eyes, and addressed a presentation sonnet to every person of distinction, who attended at the royal levee. This is fairly supposable from the list already displayed: but even for this, Warton has offered the following graceful apology. "It was then a common practice, by unpoetical and empty panegyrics, to attempt to conciliate the attention and secure the protection of the great; without which it was supposed to be impossible for any poem to struggle into celebrity. Habits of submission, and the notions of subordination, now prevailed in a high degree: and men looked up to peers, on whose smiles or frowns they believed all sublunary good and evil to depend, with a reverential awe. Chapman closed his translation of the Iliad with sixteen sonnets, addressed to the chief nobility; Lok on the same plan, subjoined a set of secular sonnets to his paraphrase of Ecciesiastes; and, not to multiply more instances, Spenser (in compliance with a disgraceful custom, or rather in obedience to the established tyranny of patronage) prefixed to the Fairy Queen fifteen of these adulatory pieces, which in every respect are to he numbered among the meanest of his compositions."

T. P.