UPON THE DEATH OF THE NOBLE AND VERTUOUS
DAUGHTER AND HEIRE OF HENRY LORD HOWARD, VISCOUNT
BYNDON, AND WIFE OF ARTHUR GORGES, ESQUIER.
DEDICATED TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
THE LADIE HELENA,
MARQUESSE OF NORTHAMPTON.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE AND VERTUOUS LADY,
MARQUESSE OF NORTH HAMPTON.[*]
I have the rather presumed humbly to offer unto your Honour the dedication of this little poeme, for that the noble and vertuous gentlewoman of whom it is written was by match neere alied, and in affection greatly devoted, unto your Ladiship. The occasion why I wrote the same was as well the great good fame which I heard of her deceassed, as the particular goodwill which I bear unto her husband, Master Arthur Gorges, a lover of learning and vertue, whose house, as your Ladiship by marriage hath honoured, so doe I find the name of them, by many notable records, to be of great antiquitie in this realme, and such as have ever borne themselves with honourable reputation to the world, and unspotted loyaltie to their prince and countrey: besides, so lineally are they descended from the Howards, as that the Lady Anne Howard; eldest daughter to John Duke of Norfolke, was wife to Sir Edmund, mother to Sir Edward, and grandmother to Sir William and Sir Thomas Gorges, Knightes: and therefore I doe assure my selfe that no due honour done to the White Lyon, but will be most gratefull to your Ladiship, whose husband and children do so neerely participate with the bloud of that noble family. So in all dutie I recommend this pamphlet, and the good acceptance thereof, to your honourable favour and protection. London, this first of Ianuarie, 1591. Your Honours humbly ever.
[* This lady, when widow of William Parr, the only person who was ever Marquis of Northampton, had married Sir Thomas Gorges, uncle of Lady Douglas Howard, the subject of this elegy. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Arthur Gorges was himself a poet, and the author of the English translation of Bacon’s tract De Sapientia Veterum, published in 1619. See Craik’s Spenser and his Poetry, Vol. III. p. 187. C.]
Whatever man he be whose heavie mynd,
With griefe of mournefull great mishap opprest,
Fit matter for his cares increase would fynd,
Let reade the rufull plaint herein exprest,
Of one, I weene, the wofulst man alive,
Even sad Alcyon*, whose empierced brest
Sharpe sorrowe did in thousand peeces rive.
[* I.e. Sir Arthur Gorges.]
But whoso else in pleasure findeth sense,
Or in this wretched life doeth take delight,
Let him he banisht farre away from hence; 10
Ne let the Sacred Sisters here be hight*,
Though they of sorrowe heavilie can sing,
For even their heavie song would breede delight;
But here no tunes save sobs and grones shall ring.
[* Hight, summoned.]
In stead of them and their sweet harmonie, 15
Let those three Fatall Sisters, whose sad hands
Doe weave the direfull threeds of destinie,
And in their wrath break off the vitall bands,
Approach hereto; and let the dreadfull Queene
Of Darknes deepe come from the Stygian strands, 20
And grisly ghosts, to heare this dolefull teene*,
[* Teene, sorrow]
In gloomy evening, when the wearie sun
After his dayes long labour drew to rest,
And sweatie steedes, now having overrun
The compast skie, gan water in the west, 25
I walkt abroad to breath the freshing ayre
In open fields, whose flowring pride, opprest
With early frosts, had lost their beautie faire.