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tinued under Henry VIII. to enjoy many marks of royal distinction. At his coronation on the 23d of July 1509, Wyatt was created a Knight of the Bath; and having greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Spurs in August 1513, he was made Knight Banneret on the spot: besides afterwards acting at one time as Knight Marshall; at another, as Keeper of the King's Jewels; and at a third, as Ewerer to His Majesty. In 1502 he married Anne, daughter of John Skinner, of Reigate, in Surrey, and by her had three children—Thomas, the elder Sir Thomas Wyatt, as he is usually denominated, Henry, and Margaret.
The year 1503 was the time, and Allington Castle the place, signalised by the birth of our poet. As to the first twelve years of his life, biography is silent; but it seems probable that he enjoyed the instructions of a private tutor. In 1515 he was entered of St John's, Cambridge. He took his degree of B.A. in 1518, and that of A.M. in 1520. In the same year, when only seventeen, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Brooke, Lord Cobham. In 1525 he took part in a grand feat of arms which was performed at Greenwich at Christmas. Wyatt was one of sixteen challengers; and the enterprise began the day after St John the Evangelist's day, and lasted till the 8th of February, when "every man having journeyed as his course came, and many a sword being broken, and many a good stripe given, and every man having stricken his full number of twelve strokes, the combatants were severed and disarmed, and the achievement closed." Those who have the opportunity of consulting Hall's Chronicles, will find there a full and glowing picture of this splendid passage of arms, which the graceful and gallant courtesy of the combatants, the quaint titles and devices, the presence of the most beautiful and illustrious ladies, whose eyes
"Rain influence, and decide the prize;"
the gorgeous costumes, and the mazy dances, which alternated with the mock fights, must have rendered enchanting— reminding us, in some points, of the "gentle and joyous
passage of arms" at Ashby, in Ivanhoe, and exciting a renewal of the old sigh of Burke, because the "age of chivalry is gone."
In the absence of distinct information, various pleasant myths have been invented about this period of Wyatt's life, some supposing that he completed his education at Oxford, and others tracing him in imaginary tours to Paris and Italy. The fact, however, seems to be, that as Dr Nott well remarks, "at the period when Wood supposes him to have been advancing himself in learning by hearing the cardinal's lectures a Oxford, he must have been dividing his time between his attendance at Court, and the society of his wife Elizabeth in the 'classic' bowers of Allington, on the peaceful and romantic shores of the winding Medway."
The first authentic glimpse we get of him after the birth of his eldest son, in 1521, is at Anne Boleyn's marriage, in July 1533, where Wyatt officiated as ewerer, in room of his father. He had undoubtedly, in the mean time, been cultivating his mind in his study, perhaps serving in the army, and certainly shining in the Court. He possessed almost all the qualifications which go to constitute a consummate courtier. He had a noble appearance, a form where, according to Surrey, "force and beauty met," a face of perfect symmetry, eyes of dazzling lustre, a mouth of singular sweetness, and a carriage distinguished alike by dignity and ease -the dignity of the oak and the yielding grace of the willow. His accomplishments, too, were extensive, and yet hung elegantly about him, waving to his outline freely like the toga— not sternly girded around him like the tunic. He spoke French, Italian, and Spanish, like English, besides being thoroughly acquainted with the classical languages. sang, too, and played skilfully on the lute; excelled in the arts of conversation, particularly in wit and repartee; was already celebrated as a poet, and formed altogether an unequalled specimen of the high-born cavalier of the period-of the soldier and the scholar, the gentleman and the genius. Through his various accomplishments he ingratiated himself greatly with the king, but is said to have used his influence
more in favour of others than of himself, so that it became a proverb when any one received unexpected advancement"He has been in Wyatt's closet." That our young wit and poet passed through the ordeal of such a Court as Bluff King Hal's quite scatheless, is far from probable; but there is no evidence that he was ever dissolute or abandoned to pleasure. He accuses himself, indeed, to his son of past folly and unthriftiness; but it is not certain whether the folly ever amounted to guilt, or the unthriftiness to dissipation. His gay qualities, however, contributed, with other circumstances, to bring him into serious dangers, and nearly to premature death.
Our readers are all familiar with the character of the "Bluebeard among Monarchs;" the wife-killing king, Henry VIII., and with the tragic fate of (if we may use the somewhat paradoxical term) the "English Mary Queen of Scots," poor unfortunate Anne Boleyn. We must not judge of King Henry as a monster. There are few, if any, monsters in the history of mankind. He was merely a man of strong passions, developed by power and popularity into a selfish and ungovernable despot-a despot who would have been incomparably more tyrannical to his people, had not his fury found a safety-valve in his cruel treatment of his wives. The whole history of his marriages has almost a phantasmagorial effect on the imagination. His wives come like shadows, and like shadows depart-each diverse in aspect as in destiny-the gentle, dignified, and pious Catherine of Arragon, dying after writing a last letter to her husband, full of a tenderness and pathos which melted even his rough nature to tears, and leaving the "Bloody Mary" as her sad and terrible legacy to England-the gay and beautiful Anne Boleyn, appearing to imagination like that pale fair girl in Faust, with
"A single blood-red line,
Not larger than the sharp end of a knife,
and from whose blood sprang Elizabeth, the Lioness of the Protestant faith-Jane Seymour, the beloved Rachel among the throng, and the mother of the boy-king Edward
VI., although, alas! like the Princess Charlotte in later days, perishing in parturition, and being, like her, the "consort of a year," although not the "parent of the dead "—the coarse Anne of Cleves, the voluptuous and unhappy Catherine Howard—and the learned, sensible, and religious Catherine Parr, who was fortunate enough to outlive her capricious and sensual lord, and whose "Prayers and Meditations, wherein the mind is stirred patiently to suffer all afflictions here, and to set at nought the vaine prosperitie of this worlde, and, also, to long for the everlasting felicitie," still survive to praise her in the gates. It was Anne Boleyn, the second in this strange procession, whose name has been associated with that of Wyatt, and the vortex of whose fate had very nearly engulphed our accomplished and brilliant bard. It will be remembered that she accompanied Mary, sister of Henry, on her marriage with Louis XII., to France, as maid of honour, and that, afterwards, she entered the service, first of Queen Claude, wife of Francis I., and then of his sister, the Duchess of Alençon. Her youth, beauty,* wit, and the fascination of her manners, rendered her a great favourite in the French Court, where it is supposed Wyatt first met and became enamoured of her. On her return to England, she was appointed lady of honour to Queen Catherine, and attracted the notice of the king, who straightway moved heaven and earth, first, in an attempt to seduce her, which was unsuccessful, and then to obtain her as his wife. They were privately married, on November 14, 1532, but soon, her pregnancy revealing the secret, Cranmer declared the first marriage void, and celebrated a second, after which Anne was crowned Queen at Westminster, amidst circumstances of unequalled splendour. Her triumph proved as brief as her rise had been sudden. Henry speedily tired of her, transferring his affections to Jane Seymour, her maid of honour, and pretending to entertain suspicions of the Queen's virtue. In 1535, two years after she had given birth to Elizabeth, she was
That, however, was far from perfect. She had six fingers on her right hand, and her complexion was too yellow. Her eyes, however, were fine, and her carriage majestic.
imprisoned, accused, brought to trial before a jury of peers, and, on the testimony of one Smeatoun, a musician, who confessed himself her paramour, was condemned to death by twenty-six judges. The sentence was executed on the 19th of May. She died with great firmness and dignity, sending a message to request forgiveness from the Princess Mary, the daughter of Catherine, for the injuries she had done to her and her mother, and another to the king, thanking him, that he had "uniformly continued his endeavours for her advancement from a private gentlewoman having made her first a marchioness, then a queen-and as he could raise her no higher in this world, now sending her to be a saint in heaven." There is something in the mock humility and subacid bitterness of this message, as well as in her accomplishments, her early connexion with the Court of France, her grace and gaiety, her undoubted imprudence, surmised infidelity, and melancholy doom, to confirm the statement of the resemblance we have already mentioned between Anne Boleyn— the mother of Queen Elizabeth-and Mary of Scots, her great rival and victim.
Much obscurity rests on the nature of the connexion between Anne Boleyn and Wyatt. That they were acquainted is certain; that they were mutually attracted is probable; that, in the language of a modern historian, speaking of Barbaroux and Madame Roland, "they did look into each others eyes, and felt that to each other they were all too lovely," is a pleasant enough fancy. Here and there, besides, occur allusions in Wyatt's poetry, which serve to corroborate the suspicion. His mistress' name is "Anna." He speaks of his wealth, and even life, having been in great danger in May, the month when Anne Boleyn was tried and executed. He says again
"And now I follow the coals that be quent,
lines which are supposed to refer to Anne Boleyn's excursion to France, as Marchioness of Pembroke, in 1532, a little before her marriage, and to imply that Wyatt reluctantly