1593
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ad Maecenatum Prologus.

The Honour of the Garter. Displaied in a Poeme Gratulatorie: Entitled to the worthie and renowned Earle of Northumberland. Created Knight of that Order, and installd at Windsore. Anno Regni Elizabethae. 35. Die Junii. 26. By George Peele, Maister of Artes in Oxenforde.

George Peele


In a verse preface addressed to the Earl of Northumberland, George Peele, London's Laureate, laments the patronage denied Spenser ["Hobbin"] and his companions among the poets: "Augustus long agoe hath left the world: | And liberall Sidney, famous for the love | He bare to learning and to Chivalrie, | And virtuous Walsingham are fled to heaven. | Why thether speede not Hobbin and his pheres? | Great Hobbinoll on whom our shepheards gaze."

Philip Bliss: "In 1585 we find him regularly employed in the capacity of the City poet, whose province it was to furnish the dialogue and addresses which accompanied the pageant usual at the inauguration of the new lord mayor, and from several passages in his Jests it is clear that his wit and humour rendered him a welcome visitant at the City tables. At this time he lived on the Bank-side, over against Blackfriars. About the year 1593 he was taken under the patronage of the Earl of Northumberland, to whom he dedicated his poem, entitled The Honour of the Garter, written on the Earl's being installed a knight of that order; but it seems that the irregularity of his life, and his constant extravagance and immorality of conduct prevented his deriving any permanent advantage from this nobleman's countenance and support" "George Peele" London Magazine 9 (July 1824) 62.

William Wordsworth to Alexander Dyce: "On my return from Ireland, where I have been travelling a few weeks, I found your present of George Peele's works, and the obliging letter accompanying it; for both of which I offer my cordial thanks" 16 October 1829; Letters, ed. Knight (1907) 2:392.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "It was certainly not on account of want of praise among his contemporaries that Peale remained poor. Greene tells us that he was 'no less deserving than Marlow and Lodge; in some things rarer, in nothing inferior,' (Groatsworth of Wit, 1592;) and Nash indulges in a still higher strain of eulogy: 'I dare commend George Peele unto all that know him, as the chief supporter of pleasance now living, the atlas of poetrie, and primum verborum artifex; where first increase, the Arraignment of Paris, might pleade to your opinions his pregnant dexteritie of wit and manifold dexteritie of invention, wherein, me judice, he goeth a step beyond all that write' — Menaphon, 1589" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1544.

David Norbrook: "In 1591 [Spenser's] satire Mother Hubberds Tale, which contained spirited attacks on Burleigh and Cecil, was called in by the authorities. In 1593 George Peele described Spenser as one of many victims of 'Courts disdaine, the enemie to Arte'" Poetry and Politics (1984) 131.

See another brief allusion to The Faerie Queene in Peele's Love of King David (1599) reprinted in Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972) 67, and other examples in Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 536-37.



Plaine is my coate, and humble is my gate:
Thrice-noble Earle, behold with gentle eyes
My wits poore worth: even for your noblesse,
(Renowmed lord, Northumberlands fayre flower)
The Muses love, Patrone, and favouret,
That artizans and schollers doest embrace,
And clothest Mathesis in rich ornaments,
That admirable mathematique skill,
Familiar with the starres and Zodiack.
(To whom the heaven lyes open as her booke)
By whose directions undeceivable,
(Leaving our Schoolemens vulgar trodden pathes)
And following the auncient reverend steps
Of Trismegistus and Pythagoras,
Through uncouth waies and unaccessible,
Doost passe into the spacious pleasant fieldes
Of divine science and Phylosophie,
From whence beholding the deformities
Of common errors and worlds vanitie,
Doost heere enjoy that sacred sweet content
That baser soules not knowing, not affect:
And so by Fates and Fortunes good aspect
Raysed; In thy heigth and these unhappy times,
Disfurnisht wholy of Heroycall spirites
That learning should with glorious hands uphold.
(For who should learning underbare, but hee
That knowes thereof the precious worthinesse,
And sees true Science from base vanitie)
Hast in regard, the true Philosophie,
That in pure Wisedome seates her happiness.
And you the Muses, and the Graces three,
You I invoke from Heaven and Helicon,
For other Patrons have poore Poets none,
But Muses and the Graces to implore.
Augustus long agoe hath left the world:
And liberall Sidney, famous for the love
He bare to learning and to Chivalrie,
And virtuous Walsingham are fled to heaven.
Why thether speede not Hobbin and his pheres?
Great Hobbinoll on whom our shepheards gaze.
And Harrington well-letter'd and discreet,
That hath so purely naturalized
Strange words, and made them all free-denyzons.
Why thither speedes not Rosamonds trumpeter,
Sweet as the nightingall. Why goest not thou
That richly cloth'st conceit with well-made words,
Campion, accompaned with our English Fraunce,
A peerlesse sweet translator of our time?
Why follow not a thousand that I know,
Fellowes to these, Apolloes favourets:
And leave behind our ordinary groomes,
With triviall humors to pastime the world,
That favours Pan and Phoebus both alike?
Why thither post not all good wits from hence,
To Chaucer, Gower, and to the fayrest Phaer
That ever ventured on great Virgils works?
To Watson, worthy many Epitaphes
For his sweete Poesie, for Amyntas teares
And joyes so well set down. And after thee
Why hie they not, unhappy in thine end,
Marley, the Muses darling for thy verse;
Fitte to write passions for the soules below,
If any wretched soules in passion speake?
Why goe not all into th' Elisian fieldes,
And leave this Center, barren of repast,
Unlesse in hope Augusta will restore,
The wrongs that learning beares of covetousnes
And Courts disdain, the enemie to Arte.
Leave foolish lad, it mendeth not with words,
Nor herbes nor tyme such remedy affoordes.

Your Honors in all humble service,
GEO: PEELE.

[sig. A4]