WROTE ONE OR MORE BALLADS OR POEMS
ON THE SPANISH ARMADA.
PRINTED IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY.
Drop from his honied muse one sable teare
To mourne her death that graced his desert,
And to his laies opend her Royall eare.
Shepheard remember our Elizabeth,
And sing her Rape, done by that Tarquin, Death.
These lines are very interesting, for they comprise the first direct evidence we possess that Elizabeth "graced his desert," and they also seem to imply that the poems of Shakespeare were familiar to that celebrated sovereign. There is, however, another notice of Shakespeare in the same work, which has been hitherto overlooked, but which is yet more interesting than the one just quoted, if, as it appears to me, it proves that the great poet had written one or more songs or poems on the Spanish Armada. And it will be well to reprint the first portion of Chettle's little work.
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Wrought by plaine Shepheardes, for the death of that most excellent Empresse Elizabeth, Queene of Vertue, while she liued; and Theame of Sorrow, being dead.
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Some weeping houres or dayes
will finde a time:
To honor honor stil, not with a rural quil,
But with the soule of skil,
to blesse their rime.
Aye me! why should I dote,
one rimes, on songs, or note,
Confusion can best quote,
sacred Elizaes losse,
Whose praise doth grace al verse,
that shal the same reherse,
No gold neede decke her herse;
to her al gold is drosse.
With that Collin in discontent, brake his pipe, and in that passion, as if his heart had beene like his Pipe, parted each piece from the other, hee fel without sense on the earth, not then insensible of his sorrow; for it yielded, wept and groaned at once with his fal, his weepings and his sighs. Poore Th. showted for help; at whose cal came some Nymphs ful of sorrow for their soueraigne; and no whit amazed to see him lie as dead, their hearts were so dead, with thinking of that which had astonied his. But yet, as gathering of companies draw more and more to wonder, so prooved it among the shepheards, that left none but their curres to attend their flockes, themselves flocking about Thenot and Collin, who / p.10 / now recouered from his trance, and al asking the reason of this griefe, with teares abounding in his eyes, that likewise drew more abundantly from theirs, he distractedly answered,
Illum nec enim reprehenderes fas est,
Qui fleat hanc, cujus fregerunt stamina parcæ,
Solus honor sequitur mortales ille misellos.
And therewithall making a signe for the Shepheardes and Nymphes to sit downe, hee tolde them, they had lost that sacred Nymph, that careful Shepheardesse Eliza, but if it pleased them to lend attention, he would repeate something of her, worth memorie, that should liue in despite of death: whereupon a stil silence seizd them al sauing onely now and then, by sighing they exprest their hearts sorrow: and Collin thus beganne
Seeing Honor onely foloweth mortals, and the works of the vertuous, die not with their deaths, and yet those workes neuerthelesse with the honors and rites due to the departed, might be much blemished, if there were no gratitude in their successors: let vs poore Rurals (though no other wayes able to erect statues for our late dread Soueraigne worthy al memory) among ourselues repeate part of her excellent Graces, and our benefite obtained by her Gouernment: for, to reckon all, were Opus infinitum, a labour without end.
She was the vndoubted issue of two royall princes, Henry of Lancaster, and Elizabeth of Yorke. In whose vnion the quiet of vs poore swaines began: for till that blessed mariage, / p.11 / England was a shambles of slaughtred men: so violent was the blood of ambition, so potent the factions, and so implacable their heads; whose eyes were neuer cleard till they were washt in blood, euen in the deare blood of their objects hearts. This King, Grandfather to our late Queene, was the first Brittish King, that many a hundred yeares before wore the Emperiall Diademe of England, France, and Ireland. In his began the name of Tewther, descended from the ancient Brittish Kings, to florish; the issue male of royal Plantagenet ending in his beginning: his wife Grandmother to our late Elizabeth, being the last Plantagenet, whose Temples were here circled with a sphere of golde. Which King and Queene liued and loved, and now lie intoombed in that most famous Chappell, built at his Kingly charge in the Abbey of Westminster: King Henry dying in a good age, left England, rich, beautifull, and full of peace; and so blesst with his issue, after royally matcht to Scotland and France, besides his vndoubted heire King Henry of famous memory the eight; that no Kingdome in the earth more florished.
His sonne, the Father of our Elizabeth, was to his Enemies dreadfull, to his friends gracious, vnder whose Ensigne the Emperour himselfe serv'd: so potent a Prince he was; besides, so liberal and bounteous, that he seemed like the sunne in his Meridian, to showre downe gold round about the Horizon: But hee dide too, and left vs three Princely hopes; All which haue seuerally succeeded other, royally / p.11 / maintaining the right of England, and resisted all forraine wrong.
For King Edward our late Soueraignes Brother, though he died yong in yeares, left instance hee was no Infant in vertues, his learning, towardnes and zeale, was thought fitter for the societie of Angels than men, with whome no doubt his spirit liues eternally.
Such assurance haue we of the happinesse of that royall gracious and worthy Ladie Mary his eldest sister; who in her death expresst the care of her Kingdomes, so much lamenting one Townes losse, that shee told her attendant Ladies, if they would rippe her heart when she was dead, they should finde Callice written in it. O Thenot, with all you other Nymphs and Swaines learne by this worthie Queene, the care of Soueraignes, how heart-sicke they are for their subiects losse; and thinke what felicitie we poore wormes liue in, that haue such royall Patrons who carke for our peace, that we may quietly eate the bread of our owne labor, tend our flockes in safety, asking of vs nothing but feare and duety, which humanity allowes, and heauen commands.
With this Thenot interrupted Collin, telling him, there were a number of true shepheards misliked that Princes life, and ioyed greatly at her death: withall, beginning to shew some reasons, but Collin quickely interrupted him in these words
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Peace Thenot, peace, Princes are sacred things,
It fits not Swaines to thinke amisse of Kings.
For saith he, the faults of Rulers (if any be faultie) are to be reprehended by them that can amend them, and seeing none is superiour to a King but God, to him alone referre their actions. And where thou termest them true shepheards that so envied that Ladies gouernement, thou art deceiued, they are still as they then were, prowd phanatike spirited counterfaites, expert in nothing but ignorance, such as hate all rule, for who resisteth correction more than fooles, though they deserue it most? Beleeue me Thenot, and all you well affected Swaines, there is no greater marke for a true shepheard to be knowne by, than Humilitie, which, God he knowes, those mad men most want: too much experience haue we of their threed-bare pride, who bite the dead, as liuing curres may lions; not contented with their scandals of that Royall Lady, our late Soueraignes sisters, but they haue troubled the cleare springs of our Mistresse Elizabeths blessed gouernement: nay, myselfe haue seene and heard with glowing eares some of them, euen in the fields of Calydon, when his Excellence that is now our emperiall Shepheard, was onely Lord of their foldes, speake of his Maiestie more audaciously and malapertly, than any of us would doe of the meanest officer. For as I saide euen now, if Rulers chance to slip: it is most vnsufferable, that euery impudent rayler should with the breath of his mouth stirre the chaffie multi- / p.14 / tude, whose eares itch for nouelties, whose mindes are as their numbers diuerse: not able to iudge themselues, much lesse their soueraignes. But they ought, if they be true Pastors, to folow the great Pan the Father of al good shepheards Christ, who teacheth eurery of his swaines to tell his brother priuately of his fault, and againe, and againe: by that glorious number, three, including numbers numberlesse, before it be told the Church. If then they must, being true shepheards, deale so with their brethren, how much more ought their folowers do to their Soueraigns, being Kings and Queenes? And not in the place where sacred and morall manners should be taught, contrarily to teach the rude to be more vnmannerly, instructing euery Punie to compare with the most reuerend Prelate, and by that example to haue euery cobler account himselfe a King.
Oh saide Thenot, Collin, there are some would il thinke of you, should they heare you thus talke, for they reproue all out of zeale, and must spare none.
Peace to thy thoughts, Thenot, answered Collin, I know though knowest there is a zeale, that is not with knowledge acquainted, but let them and their madde zeale passe, let vs forget their railings against Princes: And beginne with her beginning, after her Royall sisters ending, who departing from this earthly kingdome the seauenteenth of Nouember in the yeare of our Lord 1558 immediately thereupon, Elizabeth the handmaide to the Lord of Heauen, and Empresse of all / p.15 / Maides, Mothers, youth and men then liuing in this English Earth, was proclaimed Queene with generall applause; being much pittied, for that busie slander and respectlesse enuy had not long before brought her into the disfauour of her royall sister Mary, whom we last remembred: In the continuance of whose displeasure, stil stil made greater by some great Enemies, how she scapt, needs no repeating, being so wel knowne. Preserued shee was from the violence of death, her blood was precious in the sight of God, as is the blood of al his Saints, it was too deare to be powred out like water on the greedy earth, she lieued and wee haue liued vnder her fortie and odde yeres so wonderfully blest, that all Nations haue wondred at their owne afflictions and our prosperitie, and she dyed as she liued with vs, still careful of our peace; finishing euen then the greatest wonder of all, our deserts considered by appointing the Kingdome to so just and lawfull a Ruler to succeede her: whom all true English knew for their vndoubted lord, immediately after her death. But lest we end ere we begin, I wil returne to her: who being seated in the throne of Maiestie, adorned with al the vertues diuine and moral, appeared to vs like a goodly Pallace where the Graces kept their seuerall mansions.
First, faith aboundantly shone in her then yong, and lost not her brightnesse in her age, for she beleeued in ther Redeemer, her trust was in the King of Kings, who preserued her as the apple of his eye, from all treacherous / p.16 / attempts, as many being made against her life, as against any Princesse that euer liued; yet she was stil confident in her Sauiour, whose name she glorified in all her actions, confessing her victories; preseruings, dignities to be all his, as appeared by many luculent examples, this one seruing for the rest, that after the dissipation of the Spanish Armatho accounted inuincible, she came in person to Paules crosse, and there, among the meanest of her people, confessed, Non nobis Domine, non nobis; sed nomini tuo Gloria. And as she was euer constant in cherishing that faith wherein shee was from her infancie nourisht, so was shee faithful of her word, with her people, and with forraine nations. And albeit I know some (too humorously affected to the Roman gouernement) make a question in this place, whether her highnesse first brake not the truce with the King of Spaine: to that I could answere, were it pertinent to mee in this place; or for a poore shepheard to talke of state, with vnreproouable truths that her highnes suffred many wrongs before she left off the league.
O saith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolue vs, and thinke it no vnfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell vs what thou hast obserued in their sawes, seene in thy owne experience, and heard of vndoubted truths TOUCHING THOSE ACCIDENTS; for that they adde, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.
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To this entreatie Collin condiscended, and thus spake. It is not vnknowen the Spaniard a mighty nation, abounding with treasure, being warres sinewes, torne from the bowels of Mines, fetcht from the sands of Indian Riuers, by the miserable captiued natiues, haue purposed to be Lordes of Europe. France they haue attempted and failed in, Nauarre they haue greatly distrest, Lumbardy the garden of the world, they are possessed of: Naples and Sicilie, Sardinia, Corsica, are forced to obey their lawes, and that they reckoned England should be theirs, with such small ease, euen in a maner with threatning: their songs taught little infants from Andolozia to Galizia are witnesse. The dice were cast: her Maiesties subiects craftily put into the Inquisition vpon euery small colour, if they scaped, which seldome sorted out so wel, aliue, could of their goods haue no restitution. Their King gane pensions to our Queenes Rebellious fugitue subiectes, and not onely to such, that in regard of their Religion fled the land, but vnto such as had attempted to resist her in actiue rebellion: and yet not staying there out of his treasury proposed rewards for sundry to attempt the murder of her sacred person: of which perfidious gilt she neuer was tainted: let any Spaniard, or Spanish affected English, proue where she euer hired, abetted, or procured any such against their kings Maiestie, and I wil yeeld to be esteemed as false as falshood itselfe: nay, they cannot deny, but that euen with the Rebels of her Realme of Ireland, stird vp to a barbarous and / p. 18 / inhumane outrages bythe Spanish policie, shee hath no way dealt but by faire and laudable warre.
But before I enter into her Maiesties lenitie in that Irish warre, against sundry knowne Rebels, and punishing some of her subiects, that vpon a zeale to her, or perchance, to get themselues a glorie, aduentured their owne liues by trecherie to cut off the liues of some great Leaders of the Rebels, I wil a little digresse, lest I should be thought, after her death, to maintaine the fire of hate, which I euer in heart desire might honourably be quencht, betweene these potent Kingdomes of England and Spaine.
I wish all that reade this to bury old wrongs, and to pray that it would please God of his inestimable mercie, to roote out all malice from Christian Nations: and as our Royall Soueraigne now raigning, hath conserued league and peace with al Princes, so, for the weale of Christendome, it may more and more increase, that the open enemies of Christ may the better be repelled from those wealthy Kingdomes in the East, where they haue many hundred yeares most barbarously tyrannized: for no man doubts, but the blood shed within these thirtie yeares, as well of English, as Scottish, Spanish, Dutch, Portugall, in the quarrell of Religion, might, if God had so beene pleased, bin able, to haue driuen the heathen Monarch from his neerest holde in Hungaria, to the fal of Danubia in the Euxine Sea, especially with the assistaunce of the French that haue cruelly falne, either vpon others swords.
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But I trust God hath suffered this offence, to adde more glory to our mighty King, that hee should be the most famous of al his predecessors, as indeed he is the most mightie, and hath beene raised to this Realme as a Sauiour, to deliuer England, and make it more abundant in blessings, when many lookt it should haue had al her glory swallowed vp of spoile.
The highnesse of his emperial place, greatnesse of his blood, mightinesse of his alliance, but most, his constancy in the true profession of Religion, euen amid my sorrowes, Thenot, fil me with ioyes: when I consider how a number that gaped for our destruction, haue their mouths shut close, yet emptie where they thought to eate the sweetes of our paineful sweate: but God be praised, as I saide before, her Highnesse that ruled vs many yeeres in peace, left vs, in her death, more secure by committing vs to our lawful Prince, matcht to a royal fruitful Lady, that hath borne him such hopeful issue, that the dayes we lately feared, I trust are as farre off, as this instant is, from the end of al earthly times, who shal not onely with their royall father, maintaine these his kingdomes in happy peace, but subiect more vnder him, and spreade the banners of Christ in the face of misbeleeuers.
In this hope I here breake off, and returne to our late Soueraignes care of keeping Faith, euen toward her rebel subiects, which I wil manifest in some two or three examples of the Irish.
When the Oneale, in the time of that memorable gentleman Sir Henry Sidney his Deputie-ship of Ireland, was mightily strengthned in his country, and so potent, that the Deputie had many dangerous and vnadvantageable skirmishes against him; A seruant of her Maiesties, one Smith, thinking to doe a worthy peece of seruice, by poysoning the Oneale, prepared a little bottle, parted in the middest; one side containing good wine, the other with tempered poyson of the same colour, and that he carries to the Oneale, vnder colour of gratification for that his armie lay farre from the sea, or Marchantable Townes, and hee thought wine was vnto him very daintie: which the Oneale accepted kindely, for that the saide Smith was borne in the Oneales Countrey, and such the Irish doe especially, and before others, trust, to bring messages euen from their greatest ennemies, vnder whome they serue.
But the deceit being quickly spide, Smyth was by the Oneill sent bound to the Deputie, to whose plot hee would faine haue imputed the same practise: but contrarily, the Deputie publikely punished the said Smyth, and her Maiestie refus'd him for her seruant; saying, she would keepe none neare her that would deale trecherously, no though it were against traitors.
The like example was showne on another that would haue attempted the poisoning of Rory Og, a bloody and dangrous Rebell.
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To which may be added, that her Highnesse among other trespasses, obiected by her Atturney against a conuicted Deputie: was, that he went about by poyson to haue tooke away the life of Feff Mac Hue, a Rebell more immane and barbarous than any of the other two: the Lord Chiefe Justice of the Common Please (yet liuing) opening at the same time, how iust a spirit her Maiestie was possessed with, that shee hated treason, euen to traitors: much more then to annointed Kings, whose honors and reputations, she so maintained, that shee not long since punished by fine and imprisonment, a wealthy railer, for vnreuerent words spoken against the person of king Philip, her open and professed enemie: So faithfull, so iust, so gracious was she.
And to make it more plaine, that Spaine intended England the first wrong, so long time before it was muttered; but after that memorable battell of Lepanto, wherein Don John of Austria obtained the triumphant Christian victorie against the Turkes; to rewarde him, England was the kingdome set downe, being then in her Maiesties possession: but hee had it, when they could giue him it that promised the same, which was at latter Lammas. And I trust his Neece shall haue as good successe, with her pretended title. For if God strengthened her Maiestie so, that against her being a woman, they could not preuaile, we trust his Almightinesse will be as carefull of our King, being alreadie Lord of three such people as haue seldome bene equalled in battell, except they haue / p.22 / vnnaturally contended among themselues: the sight of which day, deare shepheards, let vs pray neuer againe to see. Besides to expresse her farther intent: to preserue faith and league, notwithstanding infinite of open wrongs: and certaine knowledge that a Nauie for inuasion of this Realme had bene preparing more than fifteene yeare; yet did she beare, vntill against all lawe of Nations, the Ambassador liedger of Spaine, honoured with many fauours, did notwithstanding plot and confeder with natiue traitors of this land and the matter being apparantly proued; hee was by her milde sufferance admitted to depart the Realme, without any violence: to his perpetuall reproach, and her neuer dying glorie. Well, I will here conclude touching this vertue of faith both towarde God and man: she was firme in the one as mortalitie coulde bee; and in the other approued glorious among all the Princes of her time.
O faith Thenot, in some of those wrongs resolue vs, and thinke it no vnfitting thing, for thou that hast heard the songs of that warlike Poet Philesides good Meloebee, and smooth tongued Melicert, tell vs what thou hast obserued in their sawes, seene in thy owne experience, and heard of vndoubted truths touching those accidents: for that they adde, I doubt not, to the glory of our Eliza.
Now, when the context of the whole of this, and what follows in the original, is carefully examined, it cannot be questioned that the words those accidents, in the passage here / p.23 / given in facsimile, refer to the events of the attempted invasion of England by Spain in the year 1588. In short, it seems clear that Chettle refers to three writers who had written songs or poems, for poems were then not infrequently referred to as songs, on the Spanish Armada. That "smooth tongue Melicert" is the same poet elsewhere called by Chettle "silver tongued Melicert" may be safely conceded. Who the two were who are mentioned as Philesides and Meloebee I can hardly conjecture, but Chettle in the same work refers to "yong Moelibee" as a friend of Antihorace, who is unquestionably Decker. This "yong Moelibee"
|Many a time Hath stoopt her Maiestie to grace your rime;|
so probably he was not extremely, perhaps only comparatively, young in 1603.
It is most likely that any song written by Shakespeare on the Armada would have been composed not long after its dispersion, at the latest in the year 1589; and not at a later period, when the chief excitement raised by that event had passed away. We may also reasonably conclude that no production of the kind would have been published or known to Chettle as the work of Shakespeare, had not the latter been then in the metropolis. Let us hope that the song or poem itself may be discovered, and the following extracts from the Registers of the Stationers' Company, taken from / p.24 / transcripts made by Mr. Collier, may perhaps assist in the search.
1588. H. Kirkham.--Alowed unto him A Dittye of encouragement to Englishmen to be bold to fight in defence of Prince and countrey.
9 July, 1588. Jo. Wolf.--Rd. of him for printinge a ballad of Encoragement to English Soldiers valiantly to behave themselves in Defence of the true Religion and their Countrey.
3 Aug. 1588. J. Wolf.--A Joyfull Sonnet of the Redines of the Shires and Nobilitie of England to her Majesties Service.
10 Aug. 1588. Jo. Wolf.--A Ballad of thobtayning of the Galeazzo wherein Don Pedro Devalez was Chief, &c.
10 Aug. 1588. Jo. Wolf to print for Ric. Jones.--A joyfull Songe of the Roiall Receavinge of the Quenes Majestie in her Campe at Tilbery the 8 and 9 of August, 1588.
[starred therefore sign] This ballad, signed T. J., is given in the Percy Society's Collection of Old Ballads, 1840, p.110.
18 Aug. 1588. John Wolf.--The Englishe Preparation of the Spaniardes Navigation, &c..
23 Aug. 1588. Jo. Wofl.--An excellent Songe of the breaking of the Campe.
27 Aug. 1588. Rich. Hudson.--Certen Englishe Verses presented to the Quenes moste excellent majestie on Sundaye the 18th of August, 1588.
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28th Aug. 1588. Jo. Wolf.--A propper newe Ballad briefely shewinge the honorable Companies of Horsmen and Footemen which dyverse Nobles of Englande brought before her Majestie, &c.
31 Aug. 1588. Tho. Orwyn.--A Ballade of the strange Whippes whiche the Spanyardes had prepared (for) the Englishemen and Women.
28 Sept. 1588. John Woulfe.--A ballade intytuled, The late wonderfull Dystres whiche the Spanishe Navye sustayned in the late Fighte, on the Sea and upon the Weste Coste of Ireland, in this moneth of September, 1588.
7 Oct. 1588. Henry Kirkham.--A Ballad of Thankesgyvinge unto God for his Mercy toward her Majestie, begynynge, "Rejoyce, England."
3 Nov. 1588. H. Carre.--A new Ballad of the glorious Victory of Christ Jesus, as was late seene by overthrowe of the Spanyardes.
3 Nov. 1588. He. Carre, Tho. Orwin.--A Ballad of the most happie Victory obtained over the Spaniardes and their overthrowe in July last, 1588.
14 Nov. 1588. Jo. Wolf.--A Joyfull Ballad of the Roiall entrance of Quene Elizabeth into her Cyty of London the . . . day of November, 1588, and of the solemnity used by her Majestie to the glory of God for the Wonderfull overthrowe of the Spaniardes..
14 Nov. 1588. Jo. Wolf.--A Dytty of thexploits of therle / p.26 / of Cumberland on the Sea in October, 1588, and of the Overthrowe of 1600 Spaniardes in Irland.
21 Nov. 1588. Ric. Jones.--A newe Ballad of Englandes Joy and Delight, in the back rebound of the Spanyardes Spight.
25 Nov. 1588. Thomas Orwyn.--A Joyefull Songe or Sonnet of the royall receavinge of the Queenes Majestye into the Cytye of London, on Sondaye the 24th of November, 1588, all along Flete Streete to the Cathedrall Churche of St.Paule, &c.
26 Nov. 1588. Tho. Nelson.--An excellent Dyttie of the Queenes comminge to Paules Crosse the 24th Daie of November, 1588, &c.
27 Nov. 1588. John Wolf.--A ballad intituled,--The joyfull Tryumphes performed by dyverse Christian Prynces beyond the Seas for the happiness of England, and the overthrowe of the Spanish navyes, shewinge alsoe the Justinge at Westminster on the Coronation Daie in the xxxj.th yere of Her Majesties reigne, &c.
After the year 1588, the history of the Spanish Armada appears to have shared the fate of all great events, and lost much of its interest. Very few indeed are the entries after that year which refer to that great attempt at the subjugation of England.
[ p.27 ]
BY WHITTINGHAM AND WILKINS, AT THE
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE.
to Twenty-five copies.
PRINTED FOR THE EDITOR,
[Written in ink below the above:]
Fifteen Copies destroyed, 9 April, 1866.
Ten only preserved.
[ p.27 ]
BY WHITTINGHAM AND WILKINS, AT THE
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE.