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“ Thou causedest the guilty to be losed
From bands, wherein are innocents inclosed :
" But by her envy can be nothing wrought ;
So God send to my fnes all they have thought.
Elizabeth, Prisoner.” On the seventh of June we find Sir Thomas Gresham laying the foundation-stone of a bourse for the merchants in London, in imitation of that at Antwerp; and so originating our Royal Exchange. Francis Drake, now only twenty-two years of age, and whose whole experience of maritime affairs has hitherto been confined to a few voyages between England and France, or to Ireland, in a coasting vessel, receives the command of a ship under his relative, Sir John Hawkins, and distinguishes himself by his valour against the Spaniards, in the harbour of Vera Cruz; an unfortunate expedition, in which the youthful hero lost all he possessed, indomitable perseverance alone excepted.In Ireland, unhappy Ireland, we have Shane O'Neil in open rebellion; and the Earls of Ormond and Desmond at war with each other for lands which are properly the property of the community. The strong arm of English Might, however, can suppress them all. Richard Hooker, now in his fifteenth year, is sent to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, by Bishop Jewel, who recommends him to the care of Dr. John Cole, one of Miles Coverdale's assistants in the translation of the Bible.
John Stow now publishes another edition of his “Summary of English Chronicles,” in the epistle dedicatory prefixed to which, his rival, Richard Grafton—a printer who had turned author, without the requisite qualifications for the work—is somewhat roughly castigated.
« Truth's quarrel it is,” says Stow, “I lay before you, the which hath been (if not hitherto wholly permitted) truly miserably handled, mangled I should say, and such a hotcli-pot made of truth and lies together, that of the ignorant in histories, the one could not be discerned of the other. A strange case it is, and negligence shall I call it, or igno. rance, that he that was moved to write for pity's sake, to restore the truth to her integrity, should commit so great errors, and so many, that he himself had need of a cor. rector, and truth of a new labourer. For me, a heap of old monuments, witnesses of times, and bright beams of the truth, can testify that I have not swerved from the truth ; the which, as I am ready at all times to show for
mine own safe conduct against the adversaries, 80 am I most certain that he that pretendeth most bath had very small store of authors for himself before time, and now hath fraught his mannerly 'Manual' with such merchandize (as to you it shall be most manifest at your conference), that by the buying of my 'Summary,' he scoured newly, or cleanly altered his old 'Abridgement.' Stow had published the first edition of his “Summary" in 1561, and in 1562 Grafton brought out his rival work, Abridgement of the Chronicles of England,” compiled chiefly from Hall; and both Stow and Grafton seem to have issued small editions almost annually. In the present year, Grafton had altered the title of his work from “ Abridgement” to “Manual," as the foregoing extract shows, and made rather free with Stow's labours, which was too bad. Hence Stow punningly alludes to the “ thundering noise of empty tons and unfruitful graffes [grafts] of Momus' offspring"-for the printers in that day all used woodcut devices in the books they printed, which were generally rebuses or puns upon their own names; and that of Grafton was a tun or cask, with a grafled fruit-tree growing out of the bung-hole, and the Scripture motto, "By their fruits ye shall know them.” Grafton, though inferior to Stow as a historian, was equal to him as a punster, and accordingly retaliated with a sneer at “the memories of superstitious fables and lies, foolishly Stowed away." Although one can enjoy those bandyings of witticisms at one another, there is always something sorrowful in the contemplation of the quarrels of literary men. Whilst there is so much work for all to do, in aiding the cause of human progress, and but a few short years allowed us for our own spiritual developement before we are summoned to eternity, why should we stand here throwing foul epithets at each other, and defiling so fair a planet as the Earth undoubtedly is, with our infernal hatreds ? “Hate," says the eloquent January Searle, « is a fearful weapon to handle : let us bury it with the Indian tomahawk, and smoke the pipe of peace in the great wigwam of the world." To Richard Grafton belongs the merit of printing Tyn. dale's translation of the New Testament, in 1526, at Ant. werp, at a time when it was heresy in England to possess a copy, and when ignorant monks were denouncing the art of printing, as an invention of the devil!“We must root out printing,” said the vicar of Croydon, in Surrey, “or printing will root out us!”
But printing is not fated to be rooted out. New works, and editions of old ones, toom from the press, amongst
which, this year, we have a "History of Italy," by one W, Thomas, containing a section “ On the liberty of strangers at Venice,” from which Shakspere is afterwards supposed to have derived some information, used in his comedy of the "Merchant of Venice ;" as, for instance, where Antonio, “the fool that lent out money gratis !! as unhappy Shylock has it, tells his friend Salarino (act iii., scene 3rd,) that,-
" The duke cannot deny the course of law i
For the commodity that strangers have
Consisteth of all nations," Brave John Stow, aided by Archbishop Parker, causes the chronicle of Matthew of Westminster, a Benedictine monk of the fourteenth century, to be printed. For time was when the monastery was the only refuge of learning, and the sacerdotal order were the only historians and men of letters. “ These honourable pioneers of truth,” says Walker Ord, “the sole lights of a dark and dreary age, although dwelling amid 'evil tongues and evil men,' preserved alive and brilliant the pure flame of literature; through all the blind bigotry of early superstition, and the fierce rage of crusading zeal, and the barbarous manners and occupations of savage times, still maintained in due cstimation the noble writings of the fathers, and beautifully transcribed into their parchment-missals, * the immortal remains of the poets, philosophers, and historians of Greece and Rome. These men-men of pure and lofty intellect, such as Cedmon, Alcuin, and Bedeupheld in their solitary, arduous, and unselfish exertions by the generous liberality of their monastic patrons (and not, as now, spurned by the wealthy and great, or pitilessly left to languish in poverty and obscurity, exposed to all the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,') were appointed to record the principal occurrences of the kingdom, and to form those faithfully-accurate chronicles from which all the larger and more elaborate histories of the empire have subsequently been compiled.”
Another work, with which Shakspere in after life became well acquainted, was “Painter's Palace of Pleasure," from which our bard is said to have derived some assistance in composing his poem of the “Rape of Lucrece," and his tragedy of “Timon of Athens." It was on a novel in
. See note D,
the "Palace of Pleasure," entitled "Giletta of Narbonne," that Shakspere founded the plot of his comedy of “All's Well that Ends Well;" a novel which Painter had derived from the celebrated "Decameron" of Giovanni Boccaccio, -a famous poet and the greatest of all the prose-writers of Italy, the friend of Petrarch, and the contemporary of our own Gower and Chaucer. Indeed, Chaucer appears to have in some measure copied the plan of the “Decameron' in his “Canterbury Tales ;" though the Italian poet has given his stories in the choicest prose, whilst those of good old Chaucer, are in noble rhyme. Some other of Chaucer's poems were imitations, or partly translations, of Boccaccio. It is a pleasant thing thus to contemplate the writers of one country contributing, directly and indirectly, to enrich the literature of another. Such contemplations are calculated to destroy those unnatural national animosities with which the foolish people of one country regard those of another; as though the wide ocean was not sufficiont separation, but Ignorance—which the wise Shakspere so truly calls "the curse of God”—must erect her barriers of hate! An illustrious English writer, in his “Letter to the Abbe Raynal," written at a time when it was considered patriotism to hate every other country but our own, and France especially was regarded as our “natural enemy!"
- very beautifully observed :-“ Letters, the tongue of the world, have in some measure brought all mankind acquainted, and by an extension of their uses, are every day promoting some new friendship. Through them distant nations become capable of conversation, and losing by degrees the awkwardness of strangers, and the moroseness of suspicion, they learn to know and understand each other. Science, the partisan of no country, but the beneficent patroness of all, has liberally opened a temple where all may meet. Her influence on the mind, like the sun on the chilled earth, has long been preparing it for higher cultivation and further improvement. The philosopher of one country sees not an enemy in the philosopher of another: he takes his seat in the temple of Science, and asks not who sits beside him."
This year was born Robert Devereux, the celebrated Earl of Essex, of whom more mention will be made in another part of this work.
SHAKSPERE'S FIFTH YEAR.
MASTER JOHN SHAKSPERE still advances in the little corporation of Stratford-on-Avon, being this year
chosen to fill the office of high-bailiff, or chief magistrate. His son, William, now in his fifth year, was, in all probability, mastering his English alphabet, either under the tuition of his own good mother, or at the best dame's school in their pleasant little market-town. And it is worthy of the consideration of the young, and of all the working-classes, whom the unreasonable hours of toil leave but short time for mental culture, that there was a time in the life of every man and woman, however great their genius or deep their learning, when they did not know how to read the simplest book. A sinewy man, trying to learn his A B C, is a more glorious sight than one whose early education has been neglected, and who on that account is ashamed to learn! Without some little book-learning, the sublime thoughts of the wise Shakspere could never become our thoughts ; nor the thoughts of ancient and contemporary writers have become his thoughts; and every man and woman of common sense will regret any want of proper schooling that may have been their untoward fate. But Shakspere-who doubtless had a good school education, though, as a German critic, Augustus William Schlegel, well remarks, he was 'poor in dead school-cram”-possessed a better education than that merely of the schools. To our mothers we are, most of us, more indebted for both moral and mental training than we are, perhaps, apt to think; and that William Shakspere both received a good training from his mother, and felt it too, must be evident to every true reader of his dramas. I have already alluded to his fine delineations of his female characters. Hear now what he has got to say about the ingratitude of children to their parents :
“ Ingratitude ! thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous, when thou show'st thee in a child,
King Lear, act i., scene 4th. And in the same scene, how awfully-grand is poor Lear's curse on his ungrateful daughter, Goneril, between whom and her sister Regan he had divided his kingdom, leaving himself, as his fool says, a shealed peascod :”