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He short and sanguinary reign of this female fanatic does not seem to have left any traces of its malignant influence on our literary history. The narrowness of the queen's temper, the gloom of her court, and her frequent proscriptions, were not likely to excite a taste or to furnish subjects for poetry; nevertheless they did not materially check the impulse already given. Indeed, if Mr Warton's mode of arrangement be admitted, it is to this reign that we are indebted for the first regular tragedy, and the first attempt at epic poetry, in the English language, as well as for two critical dissertations of very considerable merit.
The tragedy of Gorboduc, afterwards published under the title of Ferrex and Porrex, was written by SACKVILLE LORD BUCKHURST, and first earl of Dorset, who was born in 1530. It is said to have been completed and fitted for the stage by the assistance of Norton ; but Mr Warton thinks that the whole was Sackville's composition, and finished in the beginning of this reign, when he was a student at the Inner Temple. In 1557, he formed the outline of a poem of the epic kind, entitled a Mirror
for Magistrates, and which, in its plan and character, had some resemblance to the Inferno of Dante. It was intended to exhibit all the illustri. ous and unfortunate characters of English history, from the Conquest to the end of the fourteenth century; who were to pass in review before the poet, and severally recite to him their misfortunes. The scene was hell, to which the poet was supposed to have descended, under the guidance of Sorrow. But Sackville had only leisure to finish the induction, or poetical preface, and the concluding legend, which was that of Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham.
The two associates, WILLIAM BALDWIN and George FERRERS, to whom he delegated the completion of the work, materially altered its structure; substituting for his machinery the contrivance adopted by Boccacio in his treatise “ de Casibus Principum.” A company is assembled, each of whom, excepting one, personates an unfortunate sufferer, and, under that assumed character, relates his adventures to the silent person of the assembly. The work thus arranged, was published by Thomas Marsh in 1559. After passing through four (if not five) subsequent editions, it was republished in 1587, with considerable additions, under the care of a new editor, John HIGINS; and, its popularity