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But Peele, like Greene, yielded in time to the temptations with which the young Elizabethan dramatists were all beset. Lodge passed through them unhurt, and, having left the stage, ended a long life as a prosperous physician. Shakespeare stood firm, without denying any of its dues to kindly fellowship. What are now the hospitalities of home have taken the place that among young wits of Elizabeth's time could be represented only by companionships of the tavern. The tavern was a resort not only of wits; and jovialities of tavern life were beset inevitably with temptations to all forms of sensual excess. Peele married early,
he had daughters, and a life of constant care. Himself. He may have been among those who, like
Greene, were at last caught by the spells of Circe. The only note we have of his death is from Francis Meres, who said in his “ Palladis Tamia," published in 1598, “ As Anacreon died by the pot, so George Peele by the pox.” One never knows how much there is of plain truth in this kind of English ; but, when we have allowed for what Meres took to be style, there seems to remain the fact that Peele yielded, more or less, to the temptations that beset his calling.
In January, 1596, pressed by sickness and poverty, Peele sent a letter to Lord Burghley with his “Tale of Troy,” published six years before, in avowed hope of a return gift that would help his housekeeping. He presumed, he said, “a scholar of so mean merit,” to present his wisdom with it “ by this simple messenger, my eldest daughter and necessity's servant. Long sickness having so enfeebled me maketh bashfulness almost become impudency,” and then followed significant allusions to a passage in the Prologue to the Satires of Persius that made Hunger a Master of Arts. At some unknown date between the writing of that letter in January, 1596, and the writing of “ Palladis Tamia" by Francis Meres in 1598, Peele died.
There was a play of Peele's printed in 1593 as “The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the first, sirnamed Edward Longshankes with his returne from the holy land. Also the life of Lleuellen rebell in Peele's Wales. Lastly the sinking of Queene Elinor, who sunck at Charing crosse, and rose again at Pottershith, now named Queenhith.” This play, commonly known as “Longshanks," was popular; and, after allowance for unusual mangling of the text under all the disadvantages of careless printing from a rough copy that, however obtained, was confused and inaccurate, we cannot think the play into a form that would have any artistic unity. It is full of life and action. The audience was kept alive with drumming, trumpeting, and calls to arms; pomps, processions, and clown-play. Edward I. has Wales and Scotland in his hands-Llewelyn and Baliol. He has in his hands also a proud, beautiful, and cruel Spanish queen, Elinor, to whom he is devoted, and who is poetical in her devotion to fine clothes.
Llewelyn yields Wales for another Elinor, with whom he goes into the woods. Then he and his followers, all dressed in green, play humours of “Robin of the Wood, alias Robin Hood," with Llewelyn's Elinor for a Maid Marion. A brawny Friar Hugh ap David, stout in play with a stick that he calls Richard, stands for Friar Tuck.
When Queen Elinor is about to become the mother of a Prince of Wales, there are twistings of her right hand that express a great longing to box her husband's ears. King Edward comes in good humour to take the buffet, counting it good omen of a jolly boy. When the prince is born, the Welshmen, become loyal, present him with their national coat of frieze, which gives a shock to the proud mother's notions of fine clothing
“ Her boy shall glister like the summer's sun,
In robes as rich as Jove when he triúmphs.
His food ambrosia-no earthly woman's milk :
The cruelty to the Lady Mayoress of London, who is tied by Elinor's order to a chair and has two adders put to her breast, comes in towards the end of the play, out of an old ballad, very much by the by, as prelude to the proud lady's sinking in the earth at Charing Cross and being cast up alive again at Pottershithe, thenceforth to be called after her, Queenhithe. There is much more than is here suggested ; anything, in fact, that would keep the stage going and please the people seems to have been taken as it came. The wit and poet, perhaps, had his prompter by him in a tankard, and in his lines, therefore, the prompter may be answerable for a little of the incoherence that is almost throughout to be found in the printed copy.
Anong Peele's other pieces were a stray poem, "The Praise of Chastity,” gathered into the “Phænix Nest” in
1593; another in "England's Helicon;" anMinor other in "England's Parnassus." A pastoral of
the Hunting of Cupid is known only by fragments. Also Peele wrote the verses for two allegorical pageants upon Lord Mayor's Day in London-one for the Lord Mayor Woolston Dixi(e) in 1585; another--Descensus Astræawritten for the Lord Mayor William Web(be) in 1591. “Polyhymnia” was printed in 1590, as “Describing the honour
able Triumph at Tylt before her Maiestie, on the a. 17 of November last past, being the first day of
the three and thirtieth yeare of her Highnesse raigne. With Sir Henrie Lea his resignation of honour at
Tylt, to her Maiestie, and received by the right honorable the Earle of Cumberland.” Sir Henry Lea, Master of the Queen's Armoury, son of Sir Thomas Wyatt's sister Margaret, was the first inventor of the annual exercises in the tilt yard at Westminster, on the seventeenth of November, in celebration of the queen's accession to the throne; and on the occasion celebrated by the verses of George Peele, Sir Henry Lea, aged about sixty (he lived to be eighty), resigned his office to the Earl of Cumberland. Thirteen couples ran in the tilt. Peele celebrates each. The fifth couple was the Earl of Essex and Sidney's friend, Fulke Greville
“ Fair man at arms, the Muses' favourite,
Lover of learning and of chivalry,
Sage in his saws, sound judge of poesy." When Sir Charles Blount tilts as one of the sixth couple, there is glance at his relations with Lady Rich
“ Comes Sir Charles Blount in or and azure dight;
Rich in his colours, richer in his thoughts,
One of the last couple that ran was Master Everard Digby. Then the day closed, and the poem on it, with “old Henry Lea," knight of the crown, dismounting, taking off his armour, and kneeling to pray for the appointment of “the flower of English knights, the valiant earl," as his successor. The queen assented to the prayer of her good woodman, whose green was turned to grey. The poem closed with the prayer that England might live to have many such champions, and Elizabeth as many days and years as she in heart could crave. A little poem followed of three six-lined stanzas on the loyal servant of the queen withdrawn from arms in his old age
“ His golden locks time hath to silver turned,
O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing !
His youth gainst Time and Age hath ever spurned,
But spurned in vain ; youth waneth by increasing :
“ His helmet now shall make a hive for bees,
And lovers' sonnets turn to holy psalms,
And feed on prayers which are Age his alms :
" And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
He'll teach his swains this carol for a song ;
Cursed be the souls that wish her any wrong:
In 1593 Peele celebrated also in a poem, " The Honour
of the Garter,” the installation of the Earl of Honour of Northumberland, then twenty-nine years old, as
var knight of the order. Peele dedicated the poem to the earl as “the Muses' love, patron, and favourite,” addressing him in the title to the prologue as Mæcenas. That prologue, lamenting the neglect of poets,
“For other patrons have poor poets none
But Muses and the Graces to implore," —
names Sidney and Walsingham as patrons dead; and as poets, Spenser, “Great Hobbinol, on whom our shepherds gaze ;” Sir John Harrington, whose verse-translation of Ariosto's “ Orlando” was first printed two years before ; Daniel, “Rosamond's trumpeter, Sweet as the nightingale ;” Campion and Fraunce, Watson, and lastly Marlowe, whose death was then the latest grief
“unhappy is thy end. Marley, the Muses' darling for thy verse,