1603
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A True Subjects Sorowe, for the Losse of his late Soveraigne.

Expicedium. A Funeral Oration, upon the Death of the late deceased Princesse of famous Memorye, Elizabeth by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland. Written: by Infelice Academico Ignoto. Wherunto is added, the true Order of her Highnes Imperiall Funerall.

Richard Niccols


Thirteen anonymous elegiac quatrains and a couplet by a devoted follower of Edmund Spenser: "Wher's Collin Clout, or Rowland now become, | That wont to leade our Shepheards in a ring? | (Ah me) the first, pale death hath strooken dombe, | The latter, none incourageth to sing" Sig. B3. The poem follows a prose oration.

"Rowland" is Michael Drayton, whose frustrations with the patronage system were evidently becoming a topic of conversation even before James was settled on the throne. The "True Subject" has been identified as Richard Niccols, who would later contribute "Englands Eliza," a chronicle of Elizabeth's reign, to the Mirror for Magistrates (1610).

Thomas Park: "This posthumous tribute to the memory of Queen Elizabeth is perhaps one of the most rare that was put forth on that occasion.... It commences with a prose Epicedium in the usual strain of adulatory exaggeration; and after a brief notice of the royal decent, and a glowing eulogy on the beauty, learning, chastity, grace, modesty, policy, wisdom, and other rare perfections of this sovereign Princess, her decease and loss are thus lamented, in a contrasted antithesis, not very complimentary to her regal Successor.... The whole of the funeral oration extends to six pages: then occurs the following poetical lament, by no 'unskilful' hand, as the author modestly affirms" Restituta or ... English Literature Revived 4 (1816) 10-12.

John Payne Collier: "The tract must have been written before Niccols left Magdalen College, Oxford. He was thus Academicus, but why he added 'infelice ignoto' to it we can give no information. Perhaps he had been disappointed of some public employment after his return from the Cadiz expedition, and went to the University in despondency. That he was quite a young man when the piece in our hands was written, we can establish by the two following interesting stanzas.... Niccols first mentions Spenser, and then Drayton, by their known poetical and pastoral appellations.... Niccols is known to have been an admirer and imitator of Spenser, both in his Cuckow, and in his Beggar's Ape, written some years subsequently.... In the tract in our hands he calls himself 'a poor Shepherd's lad,' as Spenser and Drayton had done before him" Bibliographical and Critical Account (1866) 3:42.

W. Davenport Adams: "Richard Niccols, poet (temp. Elizabeth and James I.), wrote The Cuckoo (1607); England's Eliza, and a Winter Night's Vision (1610); The Twynnes Tragedye (1611); The Three Sisters' Teares (1614); Monodia (1615); London's Artillery (1616); Sir Thomas Overburrie's Vision (1616); and The Beggar's Ape. In 1610 he published a revised edition of The Mirror for Magistrates" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 425.

This work has also been attributed to John Lyly, in Complete Works, ed. R. W. Bond (1902) 1:388.



I joyne not handes with sorowe for a while,
To soothe the time, or please the hungrie eares:
Nor do inforce my mercinarie stile,
No feigned liverye my Invention weares.

Nor do I ground my fabulous discourse
On what before hath usually bene seene:
My greife doth flowe from a more plentious source,
From her that dy'd a virgin and a Queene.

You Cristall Nimphes that haunt the banks of Thames,
Tune your sad Timbrils in this wofull day:
And force the swift windes and the sliding streames
To stand a while and listen to your Lay.

Your fading Temples bound about with yewe,
At every step your hands devoutly wring,
Let one notes fall anothers height renewe,
And with compassion your sad Naenia sing.

Graces and Muses waite upon her Hearse:
Three are the first, the last the sacred Nine:
The sad'st of which, in a blacke tragique verse,
Shall sing the Requiem passing to her shrine.

An Ebon Charriot to support the Beere,
Drawne with the blacke steedes of the gloomy night:
Stooping their stiffe Crests, with a heavie cheere,
Stirring compassion in the peoples sight.

The Pyle prepard where on her body lyes,
In Cipresse shadowes sit you downe forlorne:
Whose bowes be dew'd with plenty of your eyes,
(For her with griefe) the Branches shall adorne.

Let fall your eye-lids like the Sunnes cleere set,
When your pale hands put to the vestall flame:
And from your brests, your sorowes freely let,
Crying one Beta and Elizas name.

Upon the Alter, place your Virgin spoyles,
And one by one with comelinesse bestowe:
Dianaes buskins and her hunting toyles,
Her empty quiver and her stringles bowe.

Let every Virgin offer up a teare,
The richest Incence nature can alowe:
And at her tombe (for ever yeare by yeare)
Pay the oblation of a mayden vowe.

And the tru'st vestall the most sacred liver,
That ever harbored an unspotted spirit,
Retaine thy vertues, and thy name for ever,
To tell the world thy beautie and thy merrit.

Wher's Collin Clout, or Rowland now become,
That wont to leade our Shepheards in a ring?
(Ah me) the first, pale death hath strooken dombe,
The latter, none incourageth to sing.

But I unskilfull, a poore Shepheards Lad,
That the hye knowledge onely doe adore:
Would offer more, if I more plenty had,
But comming short, of their aboundant store,

A willing heart that on thy fame could dwell,
Thus bids Eliza happily farewell.

[sigs B2-B3]