1590
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Eglogue upon the Death of Sir Francis Walsingham.

An Eglogue upon the Death of the right honorable Sir Francis Walsingham late Principall Secretarie to her Majestie, and of her most Honourable Privie Councell. Written First in Latine by Thomas Watson Gentleman, and now by himselfe translated into English.

Thomas Watson


The Eglogue is an abridged translation of Thomas Watson's Latin Meliboeus, published the same year. This rather dreary pastoral elegy is notable for containing the first printed mention of Spenser by name: "Thou Spencer art the alderliefest swaine, | Or haply if that word be all to base, | Thou art Apollo" Sig. C4.

Watson calls upon Spenser, who had returned to London at this time, to praise Queen Elizabeth and comfort her for the loss of Sir Francis Walsingham. He appears to refer to the sonnets to distinguished courtiers Spenser was busily appending to the Faerie Queene: "Name Mopsus, Daphnis, Faustus, and the rest, | Whose sevrall gifts thy singing can expresse" C4v. In fact, Spenser did alter the copies of commendatory verses in the course of publication, so that his sonnet to Walsingham appears in some copies but not others. In Pierce Penilesse (1592) Thomas Nashe complains to Spenser that he had omitted Thomas Watson from these same commendatory sonnets.

To the courteous Reader: "Gentlemen, if you suppose me vaine, for translating myne owne poeme: or negligent, for not doing it exactly to the latin originall, I thus desire to satisfie you. It is pardonable for a man to be bold with his owne: And I interpret my self, lest Melibaeus in speaking English by an other mans labour, should leese my name in his chaunge, as my Amyntas did. A third fault (haply) will bee found, that my pastorall discourse to the unlearned may seeme obscure: which to prevent, I have thought good, here to advertise to you, that I figure Englande in Arcadia; Her Majestie in Diana; Sir Francis Walshingham in Meliboeus, and his Ladie in Dryas; Sir Phillipe Sidney in Astrophill, and his Ladie in Hyale, Master Thomas Walsingham in Tyterus, and my selfe in Corydon."

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "Thomas Watson was a native of London, and educated at Oxford. He afterwards studied the law, and died about 1592. His Hecatompathia; or Passionate Century of Love, (licensed in the Stationer's boosk, 1581,) consists of 100 copies of love-verses. Watson appears to have a great command of language; but more, as has been said, of the artificial fire of the scholar, than the spirit of the real poet" British Bibliographer 3 (1812) xii.

Edmund Gosse: "An idea of the frigid allegory that pervades this poem may be given by the fact that England throughout is spoken of as Arcadia, Queen Elizabeth as Diana, Sir Francis Walsingham as Meliboeus, and Sir Philip Sidney as Astrophel" Complete Works of Spenser, ed. Grosart (1882-84) 3:xxiv-v.

W. W. Greg: it is "considerably shorter than the original, but still of tedious length. The usual transition from the dirge to the paean is managed with more than the usual lack of effect. The eclogue contains a good deal beyond its immediate subject; for instance, a lament for Astrophel, a passage in praise of Spenser, and a panegyric on 'Diana, matchless Queene of Arcadie' — all subjects hardly possible for a poet to escape, writing 'more pastorali' in 1590" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 111.

Herbert E. Cory: "In 1590, Thomas Watson and Thomas Lodge also entered the lists. Watson's dull English version of his dull Latin elegiac eclogue on Francis Walsingham, slightly influenced by the Calender, and containing verses in praise of Spenser, is worth only bare mention" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 244.

Thomas Watson also incorporates lines from the Faerie Queene into Tears of Fancy, sonnet 51; Frederic Ives Carpenter, Reference Guide to Edmund Spenser (1923) 251.



CORYDON, TITYRUS.

CORYDON.
Nowe Tityrus, since wee at ease are lade,
And both our flockes orespred the flowrie plaine:
Sweete friend unfolde under this platen shade
The secrete cause of thy concealed paine,
How haps thy sighing threats the cleered skie,
With gentle Zephyr waging often warres,
Whose Muse of yoare with hunnie melodie,
Did calme fierce winds, and cease their boistrous jarres?
What means this moorning weed? thy weeping eine?
thy pale aspect? thy murmuring complaints?
Speake, that I may joine my teares with thine,
and ease thy burdened heart before it faints.

TITYRUS.
Corydon forbeare by deepe inquire
To rip the skarred wounds of my unrest:
No teares, no counsell can abate the fire,
Which loving sorrow kindles in my brest.
I all alone in darkesom unkoth place,
I all alone must like the Turtle Dove,
Whose joy is slaine, bewaile my wretched case,
And powre out plaints agenst the gods above,

CORYDON.
By sylvane nymphs, and lovely Graces three,
That on our lawnes doe sport them to and fro;
By countrie powres of what so ere degree;
By Floraes chaplet; by Dianaes boe,
By fruitfull Pales, Ceres wheaten crowne,
By silver Thamesis old Oceans dame;
By chang'd Amintas flow'r, that decks the downe;
And lastlie by Elisaes vertuous name,
By these, and those that guide caelestial spheares,
I here conjure thee to discloase thy griefe,
That I maie slake thy sighing with my teares,
Whose comforts oft have bred my harts relief.

TITYRUS.
Then thus (though loath) as griefe will suffer me,
My faltring tongue shall tell my discontent:
That cares by sympathie maie worke on thee,
And thou upholde some part of my lament.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife
Sweet Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.
Now Corydon (for evrie shepheard swaine
Reports thee skilfull in a sacred verse)
In such a meeter helpe me to complaine,
As maie befit great Meliboeus hearse.

CORYDON.
I now beginne: Apollo guide my sounde,
And weepe yee sisters of the learned hill:
That your Paegasean springs may leap their bound,
And from their floate maie seas of teares distill.
Let deadly sorrow with a sable wing,
Throughout the world go brute this tragedie:
And let Arcadians altogether sing
A woefull song agenst heavns tirannie.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife
Sweet Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

Are wheeling orbs so full of foule despight,
That neither wisdome, nor true pietie,
Nor learned skill, nor speech of choice delight,
Nor care of countries sweete securitie,
Nor watchfull studie for Dianaes health,
Nor gentle birth which vertues worth did raise,
Nor honors titles, nor abundant wealth,
Nor thousand gifts deserving endlesse praise
Could smooth the mallice of old Saturnes brow,
Or heate of Mars, or Lunaes deathfull colde:
O envious heavns, that winde I wotte not how,
Grudging the glories of this earthly molde.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife:
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

Yet glorious heavns, O pardon my blaspheme,
Whose witte in sorrowes Labyrinth is straide:
All that I spake was but a furious dreame,
It was not you, but Fates that him betraide.
O thou eternall Monarcke, at whose becke
The planets moove and make their influence:
O give the Destinies a wrathfull checke,
Afflict them for their spightfull insolence.
In case mine oraison seeme overlarge,
O yet vouchsafe me but this one request,
That fatall lawes be givn to Saintes in charge,
Whose hands and harts wil alwaies work the best.
What can those Imps of everclowding mist,
Those ruthlesse daughters of eternall night;
But (tyrantlike) sunder their vitall twist,
Whose shining vertues are the worldes chiefe light?
Alas too soone by destins fatall knife,
Sweet Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

And was not Astrophill in flowring prime,
By cruell Fates cut off before his daie,
Yong Astrophill, the mirrour of our time,
Faire Hyales chiefe joy, till his decay?
When late a dreadfull Lyon in his pride
Descended downe the Pyraenaean mount,
And roaring through the pastures farre and wide,
Devowr'd whole Belgian heards of chief account:
Stout Astrophill incenst with sole remorse,
Resolv'd to die, or see the slaughter ceast:
Then senst with fire and sword, with manly force
He made assalt upon the furious beast.
But of this tale teares drowne the latter part:
I must returne to Meliboeus fall,
Who mourning still for Astrophils depart,
Forsooke his friends, and lost himselfe withall.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife,
Sweet Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

Nowe tell me shephards all, and fellow swaynes,
Who shal with rampiers fence our country foile?
And keep the fluds from breaking ore the plaines?
And sheild our tender flocks from deadly spoile?
Who shall recure their faintie maladies,
And purge their fleeces in soft running streams?
Who shall defend our lambs from jeoperdies?
And shrowd our kids from Titans parching beames?
Who now shal til our ground, and reape our corne?
Who shall assuage the strife of swelling pride,
When evrie swynard shall exceede his borne,
And will not by God Terminus be tyde?
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife,
Sweet Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

TITYRUS.
Thy tunes have often pleas'd mine eare of yoare,
When milk-white swans did flocke to heare thee sing,
Where Seane in Paris makes a double shoare,
Paris thrise blest if shee obey her King.
But now O Corydon, that lightsome vaine
Is changd from youth to aged gravitie,
That whilst I heare thee bitterlie complaine,
Ne thinks Apollo sings in Arcadie.
And yet afford thy moorning Muse some reft,
While I (though skil and voice are both decaide)
With termes of duetie from a pensive brest
Bewaile my friend, whom cruell Fates betraide.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

O all that all the Univers containes
In heavn, or aire, or earth, or watrie deepe;
With mutual plaints make light my secret pains,
For sorrow wasts in teares, where manie weepe
And first ye Figures in the Zodiacke line,
That decke heavns girdle with aeternall light:
O faine some griefs, and knit them unto mine,
Such griefs as may this baser worlde affright.
Now Cancer slake thy heate with brackish raine,
And Leo roare, to make the skie dismaide:
Aquarius powre thou downe salt teares amaine,
And Aries let thy dancing now be staide.
Now Libra make not aequinoctiall,
But suffer night to overgrow the daie:
Or darkenes fits all us that live in thrall,
Let those have light that list to sport and plaie.
Now let the Centaure with his poisned steele
Upon the Fates inflict a deadlie wounde:
That for misguiding late their fatall wheele
They may lament with guosts of under-ground.
Now let the winter under Capricorne
Last still: and Pisces lend him watrie showres:
Let Taurus wound the welkin with his home,
And Scorpio with his taile sling fatall powres.
Now Gemini forbeare with gladsome shine,
To comfort Sea-men in their chiefe dispaire:
Virgo make fountains of thy daie-bright eine,
And teare the treasure of thy golden haire.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

Yee seavnfold flames, whose ever-circling fires
Maintain this earth with influence from your sphears,
And with your powre guide mortall mens desires,
Now leave your harmonie, and fall to teares.
Yet cankred Saturne it were all in vaine,
With my intreats to call for thy lament,
For if old Orpheus but a sooth have faine,
To miseries thy minde is alwaies bent.
Thou still art lumpish, waiward, cold, and sloe,
Attended on with Terror, doating night,
Pale discontent, sighs, discord, teares, and woe,
Fit mates for me that want my chiefe delight.
But thee faire Jupiter I must require,
To change the gratious vertue of thy starre,
And not to temper with thy gentle fire,
The raging heates of him that breedeth warre.
Let Mars roave uncontrold and kindle strife,
That Sorrowes may sit downe by Slaughters side:
And golden Sol surcease to favour life;
And Venus weepe, as if Adonis dide.
And Stilbon with thy hatt cloude Phoebus face,
And Luna see thou steale no more his beames:
But let thy Steedes forbeare their nightlie race,
And from thy bosome powre downe weeping streames.
Alas too soone by Destins fatal knife,
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

Now Aire, and what thy circuites doe containe,
Helpe to lament great Meliboeus death:
Let clouds of teares with sighs be turnd to raine,
Admit no winde but evergroaning breath.
Now set thy firie Pyramids to viewe,
Thy divers Idols, Candles burning bright:
Inflamed Shafts, Comets of dreadfull hewe;
Sparkles that flie, and Starres that fall by night.
Let all thy Meteors, of what ever kinde,
With terror sort them selves in just araie:
And worke such fear in every mortall minde,
That all the world may waile for ones decade.
Alas too soone by Destins fatal knife,
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

CORYDON.
Tityrus thy plaint is overlong,
Here pause a while, at Corydons request:
Of what is wanting in thy farfet song,
My moorning voice shall strive to tell the rest.
But I must sorrow in a lower vaine.
Not like to thee, whose words have wings at wil:
An humble stile befits a simple Swaine,
My Muse shall pipe but on an oaten quill.
Immortall Fauns, Satyrs, and great Pan,
The Gods and guiders of our fruitfull soile,
Come seat your selves by me, and waile the man,
Whose death was hastned by his vertuous toile.
Yee comelie Graces neither dance nor plaie,
Nor kembe your beauteous tresses in the Sun,
But now since Meliboeus is awaie,
Sit downe and weepe, for wanton daies are dun.
Now in the woods be leafelesse evry Tree,
And beare not pleasant fruits as heretofore:
Myrrha let weeping gums distill from thee,
And help to make my dolefull plaint the more.
Now in the woods let night-ravns croak by daie,
And gladies Owles shrike out, and Vulturs grone:
But smaller birds that sweetly sing and play,
Be whist and still: for you can make no mone.
Now in the fields each corne hang down his head,
Since he is gon that weeded all our corne:
And sprouting Vines wither till you be dead,
Since he is dead, that shielded you from storme.
Now in the fields rot fruits while you are greene,
Since he is gon that usde to graff and grace you:
And die faire flowres, since he no more is seene,
That in Dianaes garland used to place you.
O heards and tender flocks, O handsmooth plains,
O Eccho dwelling both in mount and vallie:
O groves and bubling springs, O nimphs, O swains.
O yong and olde, O weepe all Arcadie.
Alas too soone by Destins fatall knife
Sweete Meliboeus is depriv'd of life.

TITYRUS.
O let me interrrupt thee yet once more,
For who should more lament his losse then I.
That oft have tasted of his bounteous store,
And knew his secret vertues perfectlie?
We have alreadie summond everie part,
Excepting that which in the Ocean lies:
To stand copartners of our wofull smart,
And beate the senselesse aire with Elegies.
Now therfore Neptune grant me this one boone,
Depose great Jove for so misguiding fate:
That Meliboeus wounded all too soone,
By Mortaes malice dies before his date.
And thou old Glaucus with divining blest,
Prophet to him that never speakes but truth,
Come with Palaemon, Phorcus, and the rest,
And here give oracle of endles rush.
Come Tethis come with Thetis after thee,
And all thy watrie nymphs, a lovelie traine:
Vouchsafe to sit upon these bankes with me,
That I may heare both thee and them complaine.
And thou great Triton with thy sounding shell,
Impart my grievance unto everie shore:
And with a murmure make the waves goe tell,
That worthie Meliboeus breaths no more.
Now let no Dolphins seeke Arions Muse,
Nor play by shore to ketch up heedles boies:
Let them suppose sweete Musicke out of use,
And wanton lovetricks to be foolish toies.
Deceitfull Mermaids leave your auncient guise,
Forbeare to sing while tempest troubles us:
Let me behold whole fountains in your eies,
For weeping sits unhappie Tityrus.

CORYDON.
But Tityrus inough, leave of a while:
Stop moorning springs, drie up thy drearie eine,
And blithlie intertaine my altred stile,
Inticd from griefs by some allure divine.
For now my mind reclaimd from carefull mone,
Gins fault hir giving place to sorrows sourse:
And in hir change intreats thee cease to grone,
That as we grievd, so we may joie by course.
In just complaint though sorrowes were begun,
And all too litle for the man we waile:
Yet now at last our sorrows must be done,
And more then moorning reason must prevail.
Injustlie grudge we Meliboeus death,
As though his worth were buried in his fate:
But neither are his vertues drenchd in Leath,
Nor vertuous soule removd to meaner state:
His faith hath framd his spirit holie wings,
To soare with Astrophil above the Sun:
And there he joies, whence every comfort springs,
And where the fulnes of his blisse begun.
Let us be joifull after long annoie,
Since Meliboeus livs in perfect joie.
Our Meliboeus livs where Seraphins
Doe praise the Highest in their glorious flames:
Where stowes the knowledge of wise Cherubins:
Where Throans exhibit earthlie deeds and names
Where Dominations rule and yet obaie:
Where Principalities to lower powers
Deepe hidden misteries doe still bewraie:
Where arms are usd by foe-subduing powers.
Where Vertues practise miracles and wunder:
Where both Archangels and sweet Angels sing,
Whose office is, to us, that live here under,
From heavn caelestiall messages to bring.
Let us be joifull after long annoie,
Since Meliboeus livs in perfit dole.
Now Meliboeus in comparelesse place,
Drinkes Nectar, eates divine Ambrosia;
And hath fruition of eternall grace,
And with his countnance cheeres Arcadia.
Then while his spirit dwels in heavnlie towres,
Let us performe what honor dutie willes:
Let us adorne his sacred tumb with flowres,
And sweete it with the riches of our hilles.
Our vernall Flora that bewailes our losse,
Will gladlie let hir flowrie locks be rent:
And clad hir selfe in moornfull roabes of mosse,
If all the treasure of hir buds were spent.
Then Flora lends us thime and violets,
Sweete balme and roses for his buriall:
Bestow no wealth on wanton amorets,
But spare it to adorne his funerall.
And Pales bath his lims in fluds of milke,
And cover him with costly ornament:
Inshrine his corps in sheetes of softest silke,
For he deservs Mausolus monument.
And Tityrus let us before the rest set holie lights,
And watch his breathles corse,
Singing sweet himns for him whose soule is blest,
Though parted from his flesh by deaths divorce.
Now cheere we Dryas in hir miserie,
Who overlong bewailes hir haplesse case:
Lest overloving like Laodamie,
Shee loose hir selfe in deepe supposd imbrace.
Now call we Hyale from whispring streames,
Increast with teares (true servants of annoie)
Who takes no pleasure but in griefs extreames,
Nor joies in ought but in hir want of joie:
Faire Hyale, who wringing oft hir armes,
Hir armes far whiter then Sythonian snoa,
With doubling sighs bewails hir helples harmes,
Alas that helples harmes should vexe hir so.
Yet beuteous Nymph thy carefull mother lives,
(Long may shee live, and living ease thy hart)
Accept what comfort hir surviving gives,
And in lifes comfort drown thy sorrows smart.
Helpe thou with us, and evrie countrie wight,
To chace all grievance from Dianaes minde:
From drad Diana, earths and heavns delight,
Diana, glorie of hir sexe and kinde;
Diana, wondrous mirrour of our daies;
Diana matchlesse Queene of Arcadie;
Diana, whose surpassing beauties praise
Improovs hir worth past terrene deitie;
Diana, Sibill for hir secret skill;
Diana, pieties chief earthlie friend;
Diana, holie both in deede and will;
Diana whose just praises have no end.
Ah but my Muse, that creeps but on the ground,
Begins to tremble at my great presume,
For naming hir, whose titles onelie found
Doth glad the welkin with a sweet perfume.
For in hir minde so manie vertues dwell,
As evrie moment breed new pieties:
Yet all in one cojoind doe all excell,
And crowne hir worth with sundrie deities.
But that unwares my sorie stile proceeds
Drad Cynthia pardon: love desires dispense:
As Joves high Oaks orelook Pans slender reeds,
So bove all praising flies thine excellence.
Yet lest my homespun verse obscure hir worth,
Sweet Spencer let me leave this taske to thee,
Whose neverstooping quill can best fet forth
Such things of state, as passe my Muse, and me.
Thou Spencer art the alderliefest swaine,
Or haply if that word be all to base,
Thou art Apollo whose sweet hunnie vaine
Amongst the Muses hath a chiefest place.
Therefore in fulnes of thy duties love,
Calme thou the tempest of Dianaes brest,
Whilst shee for Meliboeus late remove
Afflicts hir mind with overlong unrest.
Tell hir forthwith (for well shee likes thy vaine)
That though great Meliboeus be awaie:
Yet like to him there manie still remaine,
Which will uphold hir countrie from decaie.
First name Damoetas, flowre of Arcadie,
Whose thoughts are prudent, and speech vertuous,
Whose looks have mildnes joind with Majestie,
Whose hand is liberall and valorous:
He is Damoetas; that is wont to blame
Extreamest justice voice of equitie:
Diana terms him by an other name,
Hatton, unlesse I faile in memorie.
The name old Damon, whom shee knows of old
For such as Nestor was to Graecians guide:
Worth ten of Ajax, worth all Croessus gold,
If his deserts in ballance could be tride.
Damon is he that counsels still aright,
And heedfullie preservs Dianaes store:
And wakes when others rest them selvs by night,
We Arcads cald him Cecill heretofore.
Then name brave Aegon, that with ships defence
About our coast orespreds the Ocean plaines,
To keepe fell monsters of the sea from hence:
We cleape him Howard, that are countrie swaines.
Name Mopsus, Daphnis, Faustus, and the rest,
Whose sevrall gifts thy singing can expresse:
When thou shalt tell how shee in them is blest,
Their verie names will comfort hir distresse.

TITYRUS.
Castor and Pollux, Loedaes lovelie twins,
Whose bright aspect cheers moornful Mariners,
Shewing them selves when pleasant calme begins,
Of gladsome newes two welcome messengers,
Convey great comfort to the weltred minde,
And with their sheen appearance breed delight:
Yet Corydon thy leare and love combinde
Please more by healing, then those twain by sight,
For they portending stormie windes surcease,
But by portending cause the hearts content:
Thy learnd persuades command my sorrow cease,
And sweetnes doth allure to merriment.
But hie we homeward, night comes on apace,
Weel learne belive forget our doleful notes:
See where faire Venus shewes hir radiant face,
Lets hence, and shut our sheepfolds in their coat.

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