1594
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Matilda the faire and chaste Daughter of the Lord Robert Fitzwater.

Matilda the faire and chaste Daughter of the Lord Robert Fitzwater, the true Glorie of the noble House of Sussex.

Michael Drayton


Michael Drayton, writing anonymously, comments on emulating Spenser: "And in his breast so deepe imprinted be, | That he may write of sacred Chastitie: | Though not like Collin in thy Britomart, | Yet loves as much, although he wants his arte."

1748 editor: "These Historical Poems, adorned and heightened with all the Ornaments of a lively Fancy, and thick sown with short judicious Reflections, flowing from a sound Judgment in Men and Things, were received as they deserved with universal Applause, and gained their Author the Reputation which he had so long sought, of being a great Poet, and this too from the best Judges, of whom there were not a few in those Times" Works of Drayton (1748) 4.

Henry John Todd: "The "last, though not least," in Spenser's enumeration of English poets [in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe], is Aetion; under which name I believe Michael Drayton is designed. Spenser's praise of him as "a gentle shepheard," applies to his "Shepheards Garland, fashioned in nine Eglogs, &c." published in 1593. And the subsequent commendation, 'Whose Muse, full of high thoughts invention, | Doth like himselfe heroically sound' seems to point at his Matilda, the faire and chaste daughter of the Lord Robert Fitzwater, &c. published in 1594; in the preface to which, Drayton informs 'the true favorers of Poesie,' that their 'kind and favourable acceptance of his late discourse of the life, and death of Piers Gaveston, emboldened him to publish .this tragicall historie of his Matilda.' He pays the following compliment to Spenser, at the exordium of his Matilda, in an address the Queen: 'And thou, O Beta, soveraigne of his thought; | Englands Diana, let him thinke on thee! | By thy perfections let his Muse be taught; | And in his breast so deepe imprinted be, | That he may write of sacred Chastitie; | Though not like Collin in thy Britomart, | Yet loves asmuch, although he wants his arte'" Works of Spenser (1805) 1:cii-iii.

John Payne Collier: "Todd does not mention the passages we have extracted [from Drayton's third Eclogue], but inserts, very properly, the following stanza from the commencement of Drayton's Matilda, 1594. Here, as in his Pastoral, Drayton calls the Queen 'Beta, and her poet Colin:'— 'And thou, O Beta, soveraigne of his thought, | Englands Diana, let him thinke on thee ... | Though not like Colin in thy Britomart, | Yet loves as much, although he wants his arte'" Poetical Works of Spenser (1862; 1875) 1:c n.

Tillotson and Newdigate: "Drayton's second Legend, probably written in the summer of 1594, is the result of the same impetus as his first, Peirs Gaveston, which it closely resembles in style. His models are still mainly the same. The example of Lucrece may have influence the choice of subject and the change of stanza; but Drayton's chief homage is still to Rosamond. Indeed, Daniel's poem now takes precedence of chronicle sources, which here present a bare outline" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:33.



O faire Charites, Joves most deere delight,
O lend me now one heaven-inchanting lay,
And you rare Nimphes which please Apollos sight,
Bring spreading Palme and never-dying Bay,
With Olive branches strew the pleasant way:
And with your Viols sound one pleasing straine,
To ayde his Muse, and raise his humble vaine.

And thou O Beta, Soveraigne of his thought,
Englands Diana, let him thinke on thee,
By thy perfections let his Muse be taught,
And in his breast so deepe imprinted be,
That he may write of sacred Chastitie:
Though not like Collin in thy Britomart,
Yet loves as much, although he wants his arte.

O my dread Soveraigne, rare and princely Mayd,
From whose pure eyes the world derives her light,
In Angels robes with majestie arayd,
In whom true vertue is defin'd aright:
O let these lines be gracious in thy sight,
In whom alone, as in a perfect glas,
All may discerne how chast Matilda was....

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