Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature Tudor Rose Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



The Mowbray lion in a stained glass window.
The Mowbray lion in a stained glass window.
Photograph ©Gordon Plumb.


EACH beast can choose his fere according to his mind,
And eke can show a friendly chere, like to their beastly kind.
A lion saw I late, as white as any snow,
Which seemed well to lead the race, his port the same did show.
Upon the gentle beast to gaze it pleased me,
For still methought he seemed well of noble blood to be.
And as he pranced before, still seeking for a make,
As who would say, 'There is none here, I trow, will me forsake',
I might perceive a Wolf as white as whalèsbone,
A fairer beast of fresher hue, beheld I never none ;
Save that her looks were coy, and froward eke her grace :
Unto the which this gentle beast gan him advance apace,
And with a beck full low he bowed at her feet,
In humble wise, as who would say, 'I am too far unmeet.'
But such a scornful chere, wherewith she him rewarded !
Was never seen, I trow, the like, to such as well deserved.
With that she start aside well near a foot or twain,
And unto him thus gan she say, with spite and great disdain :
'Lion,' she said, 'if thou hadst known my mind before,
Thou hadst not spent thy travail thus, nor all thy pain for-lore.
Do way !  I let thee weet, thou shalt not play with me :
Go range about, where thou mayst find some meeter fere for thee.'
With that he beat his tail, his eyes began to flame ;
I might perceive his noble heart much moved by the same.
Yet saw I him refrain, and eke his wrath assuage,
And unto her thus gan he say, when he was past his rage :
' Cruel ! you do me wrong, to set me thus so light ;
Without desert for my good will to shew me such despite.
How can ye thus intreat a Lion of the race,
That with his paws a crowned king devoured in the place.2
Whose nature is to prey upon no simple food,
As long as he may suck the flesh, and drink of noble blood.
If you be fair and fresh, am I not of your hue ?3
And for my vaunt I dare well say, my blood is not untrue.
For you yourself have heard, it is not long ago,
Sith that for love one of the race did end his life in woe,
In tower both strong and high, for his assured truth,
Whereas in tears he spent his breath, alas ! the more the ruth.
This gentle beast so died, whom nothing could remove,
But willingly to lese his life for loss of his true love.4
Other there be whose lives do linger still in pain,
Against their will preserved are, that would have died fain.
But now I do perceive that nought it moveth you,
My good intent, my gentle heart, nor yet my kind so true.
But that your will is such to lure me to the trade,
As other some full many years trace by the craft ye made.
And thus behold my kinds, how that we differ far ;
I seek my foes ;  and you your friends do threaten still with war.
I fawn where I am fled ;  you slay, that seeks to you ;
I can devour no yielding prey ; you kill where you subdue.
My kind is to desire the honour of the field ;
And you with blood to slake your thirst on such as to you yield.
Wherefore I would you wist, that for your coyed looks,
I am no man that will be trapp'd, nor tangled with such hooks.
And though some lust to love, where blame full well they might ;
And to such beasts of current sought, that should have travail bright ;
I will observe the law that Nature gave to me,
To conquer such as will resist, and let the rest go free.
And as a falcon free, that soareth in the air,
Which never fed on hand nor lure ;  nor for no stale 5 doth care ;
While that I live and breathe, such shall my custom be
In wildness of the woods to seek my prey, where pleaseth me ;
Where many one shall rue, that never made offence :
Thus your refuse against my power shall boot them no defence.
And for revenge thereof I vow and swear thereto,
A thousand spoils I shall commit I never thought to do.
And if to light on you my luck so good shall be,
I shall be glad to feed on that, that would have fed on me.
And thus farewell, Unkind, to whom I bent and bow ;
I would you wist, the ship is safe that bare his sails so low.
Sith that a Lion's heart is for a Wolf no prey,
With bloody mouth go slake your thirst on simple sheep, I say,
With more despite and ire than I can now express ;
Which to my pain, though I refrain, the cause you may well guess.
As for because myself was author of the game,
It boots me not that for my wrath I should disturb the same.'

    Dr.  Nott's  remark on  this  piece,  "That  it  is  valuable  from
the  circumstance of  its  preserving  an  account of  a  quarrel be-
tween Surrey and the  fair  Geraldine, which, as we  hear  nothing
of   any  reconciliation  afterwards,  was  the  occasion   probably
of  his renouncing  his  ill fated  passion," is an amusing instance
of  first  imagining  a  fact, and  then  making  every  circumstance
support   it.    The  learned  editor,   as  in   most  other  instances,
assumes  that  Geraldine was  the  subject  of  the poem,  without
a  shadow  of  evidence ;  and  gratuitously  gives  it  this title —
" Surrey renounces all affection  for the fair  Geraldine," whereas,
in all  the  printed  editions,  it  bears  the  title  assigned  to  it  in
the  text.   There  is  no  doubt  that  Surrey  personated  himself
by  the " White Lion,"  which  was one of  the  badges  (and  not
the arms, as Dr. Nott asserts) of  the  house  of  Howard, derived
from their descent  from the  Mowbrays,  Dukes of  Norfolk.  The
word  "pranceth"  in  line  7,  alluded  to  the  position  "rampant"
of  the animal, and  perhaps a  playful reference  was intended to
Surrey's  invitation  to  the  lady  to  dance.   But there is not any
reason to presume by  the Wolf  the  fair Geraldine was intended,
though it is almost certain that the family of the lady adverted to
bore that animal on their standards, or in their arms. Dr. Nott has
cited a  MS. in the Museum  to prove  that  the Fitzgeralds, Earls
of  Kildare, used a Wolf  as  their crest,  but  this is unsupported
by  any  other  authority,  and  Drayton,  with  more  probability,
says, that the lady meant by the "Wolf," was Ann, the daughter
of  Sir  Edward  Stanhope, who became the wife of  the Protector
Somerset.     The  Stanhope  family  once  used  a  Wolf  as  their
crest,  in  consequence of  their  descent  from  Maulovel,  and a
Wolf  is  still one of  the supporters of  the Earls of  Chesterfield,
Stanhope,  and  Harrington.    See  Collins'  Peerage, Ed. 1779, iii.
301, 302.   It is proper to add, that the family of Arundell of  Lan-
hearne, in Cornwall, bore a white wolf as a badge.
   Apparently an allusion to the defeat and death of James the
at  Flodden  Field,  by  Thomas, then  Earl of  Surrey, the
Poet's grandfather.
   Query,  is it to be understood  by this line  that  Surrey  was
related  to the lady, or did he only mean  that his lion was of  the
same hue as her wolf?
   Dr. Nott observes:  "This  means  Thomas  Howard,  second
son of  Thomas  second  Duke of  Norfolk, by Agnes his second
wife, and consequently  half  uncle  to Surrey.   He was attainted
of  high  treason, and committed to the Tower,  in June, 1536,  for
having,  without  the  knowledge  or approbation of  King  Henry
VIII., affianced  himself  to the Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter
of  Margaret Queen of  Scotland, the King's sister.  Lord Thomas
Howard remained in confinement  till  his  decease on Allhallows
Eve, 1538.   Upon  his  death  the  Lady  Margaret, who had been
confined  likewise, was  set  at  liberty.    It  is probable  that  this
unfortunate affiance was the effect on the  part of  Lord Thomas
Howard,   as  well  as  on  the  part  of   Lady  Margaret,   of   real
attachment, and  not  of  ambition.   Had he relinquished all claim
to her hand, he probably would have been released from his con-
finement.     It  is  likely  therefore  that  his  love,  as  Surrey  inti-
mates, really cost him his life."
   A piece of  meat used  to allure falcons back to their master.

Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl of.
The Poetical Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854.  47-52.

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on September 26, 2003. Last updated on January 2, 2019.


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Historical Events
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
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Elizabethan Theatre
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English Renaissance Drama

Images of London:
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR

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