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was so learned that when he was hardly more than a boy he could step upon the stage in the midst of a Latin play and make up a part for himself; and he was so witty that his improvised jests would set the audience into peals of laughter. The year that Henry came to the throne More wrote the lives of Edward V and of Richard III, and this was the first English historical work that was well arranged and written in a dignified style. The little book by which he is best known was written in Latin and had a Greek title, Utopia, or "nowhere." This describes a country as More

Utopia. 1516.

thought a country ought to be. In that marvellous land everything was valued according to its real worth. Gold

SIR THOMAS MORE, 1480-1535 From Holbein's Court of Henry VIII

was less useful than iron; therefore the chains of criminals were made of gold. Kings ruled, not for their own glory, but for the sake of their people. No one was idle, and no one was overworked. War was undertaken only for self-defence, or to aid other nations against invasion. This book is interesting not only because it pictures what so brilliant a man as Sir Thomas More

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thought a country should be, but because it proves that people were thinking with a boldness and freedom that

would not be suppressed. In many respects More proved to be a true prophet, for some of the laws that he suggested became long ago a part of the British constitution.

1485 ?

42. Religious questioning. In Utopia every man was allowed to follow whatever religion he thought right. This question of religion, whether to obey the church implicitly or to decide matters of faith for one's self, was dividing Germany into two parties, and was arousing a vast amount of thought and discussion in England. Many held firmly to the old faith; but many others were inclined to investigate the teachings of the church, and to wish to compare them with the words of the Bible. English had changed greatly since Wyclif's day, and an English scholar named William William Tyndale was determined that the Bible should Tyndale. be given to the people in the language of their 1536. own time. "If God spare my life," he said to a clergyman who opposed him, "ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost." There was "no room" in England to make his translation, as he said, and therefore Tyndale went to Germany, and in 1525 Tyndale's printed with the utmost secrecy an English translation version of the New Testament. Some English Testament. merchants paid for the printing, and the books 1525. found their way over the country in spite of the king's opposition. The Old Testament was afterward translated under his direction and partly by himself.

of the New

Not more than two years after Tyndale's New Testament was printed, Henry became bent upon securing a divorce from his wife, but the pope refused. Then Henry declared that he himself was the head of the church in England. Parliament was submissive, the

Separation

of Church

of England

from Church of Rome. 1534.

English clergy were submissive, and in 1534 the Church of England separated from the Church of Rome. Whoever believed that the authority of the pope was superior to that of the king was declared a traitor. Prominent men were not suffered to hold their own opinions in quiet; and among those who were dragged forward and compelled to say under oath whether they accepted Henry as the head of their church was Sir Thomas More. He was too honorable and truthful to assent to what he did not believe; and King Henry, who had Death of Sir Thomas claimed to feel great admiration and affection for him, straightway gave the order that he should be executed. Tyndale, too, Henry had pursued even after his withdrawal to the Continent. Such was the treatment that this patron of literature bestowed upon two of the three or four best writers of English prose that lived during his reign.

More.

man.

43. Sir Thomas Wyatt, 1503-1542, and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, about 1517-1547. At King Henry's court there were two men in whom every one who met them was interested. The elder was Sir Thomas Wyatt. He was a learned man, he spoke several languages, he was a skilful diplomatist and statesHe was also a man of most charming manners, and was exceedingly handsome. The younger was the Earl of Surrey. These two men were warm friends, and they were both interested in poetry. Both knew well the Greek and Latin and Italian literatures; and they appreciated not only the freedom of thought and fancy brought in by the Renaissance, but also the carefulness. with which the Italian poetry as well as the classical was written. Why should not that same carefulness, that same love for not only saying a good thing but

saying it in the best way, be followed in English, they questioned. They were especially pleased with the Italian sonnet, a form of verse that needs the great- The sonnet. est care and accuracy of arrangement in its

I

rhymes, the number of lines and of accents, the ending of the octave, the first eight lines, its connection with the sestet, the last six, and the summing up of the thought at the end. They brought to England, not the glow and brilliancy of the Renaissance, but the realization that literary composition had definite requirements, that the thought was not enough, but that the form in which the thought was presented was also of importance. Surrey introduced another form of verse to the English, blank verse, or, as the Italians called it, Surrey's "free verse." It was in this style that he translated two books of the Eneid, smoothly and 1553. easily, and with a sincere appreciation not only of the classical beauty of form, but of the beauty of thought and description.

Eneid,

published

These two men could not be long among Henry's courtiers without feeling both his favor and his disfavor. Wyatt was imprisoned on some trivial charge more than once, and Surrey was beheaded on a groundless accusation of treason. For years their writings were passed from one to another in manuscript, for it would have. been thought great lack of taste and delicacy to allow one's poems to be printed; and not until ten years after Surrey's death did they come out in print. The book in which they appeared is known as Tottel's Miscellany, a collection of short poems which was Miscellany. published in 1557. This book is interesting, but it is rarely pleasant reading. It has not a touch of

Tottel's

1557.

For a sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney's, see page 94. For one of Milton's, see page 142.

humor. The poets wrote of the wretchedness and mutability of the world. The love-poems were especially doleful. The lover complains - "complains" is the favorite word of his lady's absence; he laments "how unpossible it is to find quiet" in his love. Yet even on so lugubrious a subject as "The lover complains of the unkindness of his love," Wyatt is beautiful and graceful. He writes:

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My lute, awake! perform the last
Labour that thou and I shall waste;
And end that I have now begun:
And when this song is sung and past,
My lute, be still, for I have done.

44. Masques and Interludes.
preparing the way for satire,
while Tyndale and Sir Thomas
More were writing excellent
prose, while Wyatt and Surrey
were teaching English poets
not only how to write sonnets
and blank verse, but also that
the form of a poem should be
as carefully watched as the
outline and coloring of a pic-
ture, the drama was not for-
gotten. Mysteries and moral-
ities still flourished, but these
were not sufficiently entertain-
ing for Henry VIII and his
merry court. Two kinds of
plays came into great

Masques.

favor, the masques and

While Skelton was

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A MASQUER

the interludes. Masques were at first only dumb shows, or pantomimes In one of them a mock castle was seen,

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