1845 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Fanshawe

John Holland, "Sir Richard Fanshaw" Poets of Yorkshire; comprising Sketches of the Lives, and Specimens of the Writings of those Children of Song (1845) 38-39.



This elegant poet was born at Ware Park, in Hertfordshire, in 1607; but the following passage from the curious autobiographical Life of Lady Fanshaw, connects, by as beautiful a link as literature could form, her husband with this county; — "In march, we went with our three children into Yorkshire, where we lived a harmless country life, minding only country-sports and country affairs. There my husband translated The Lusiad of Camoens." This translation he dedicated to William, Earl of Strafford, from his Lordship's park, of Tankersley, near Barnsley, and he says, that from the hour he began it to the end thereof, he slept not once out of those walls. While here he translated also a Spanish play "Queror por solo Queror," to Love only for Love's sake. His lady proceeds — "I found the neighbour-country plentiful and healthy, and very pleasant; but there was no fruit in it till he planted some: and my Lord Strafford says now, that what we planted is the best fruit in the north. Our house and park at Tankersley were very pleasant and good; and we lived there with great content; but God so ordered it that this should not last; for on the 20th July, 1654, at three o'clock in the afternoon, died our most dearly beloved daughter Ann, whose beauty and wit exceeded all that I ever saw of her age." Sir Richard died at Madrid, June 4, 1666.

Fanshaw's translation, although it is rendered stanza for stanza with, and in the measure of the original, and is not without passages of thrilling force and beauty, is, on the whole, too much defaced by the quaint conceits and low allusions of many of the poets of his age, to be compared advantageously with Mickle's later and well-known version. A single stanza will, to some extent, illustrate the character thus given — it is the striking description of Mars, in the first book of the Lusiad.

Lifting a little up his Helmet-sight
('Twas adament) with confidence enough,
To give his vote himself he placed right
Before the throne of Jove, arm'd, valient, tough:
And (giving with the butt-end of his pyke
A great thumpe on the floor of purest stuffe)
The heavens did tremble, and Apollo's light
It went and come, like colour in a fright.