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age, she became one of the ladies of the chamber. Surrey met her first at Hunsdon, but it was at a subsequent interview at Hampton Court which completed the captivation. In the celebrated sonnet on her, he says
Hunsdon did first present her to mine eyen.
Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine.” It has been maintained by some that Surrey bore no real love to this lady, but merely used her as the subject of a poem. This, however, is disproved by the plain and passionate terms of the sonnet, as well as by various expressions sprinkled through his other verses, in which he speaks of his attachment as not only strong but desperate. That these expressions do not apply to his countess is obvious from the fact, that there never occurred any difficulty in the way of their nuptials, except delay owing to his and her age; whereas in his love-poems, he speaks of his mistress as cold and coy, and exhorts her to add " bounty to beauty.” It is unquestionable, from the dates, that his love, whether real or simulated, for Geraldine occurred several years after his marriage, and seems to have resulted, not from any indifference to his lady, but from a sudden fit of infatuated passion—a fit which lasted for a considerable time, although it produced no result except a few pretty sonnets. Geraldine, like a sensible girl, although only fifteen, treated Surrey's passion as it deserved ; was married, in 1543, to Sir Antony Brown, a man who might have been her grandfather; and upon his death, six years afterwards, became the third wife of the Earl of Lincoln, whom she managed to survive. It is not absolutely certain whether Surrey's attachment outlived her marriage with Brown.
Great obscurity, indeed, in spite of the elaborate researches of Dr Notts and Chalmers, rests on this passage of Surrey's life; and as fancy always delights in painting darkness with ideal and fantastic forms, so on the dim groundwork of the real story of Surrey and his Geraldine, has been reared one of the strangest of romantic fictions. Many a myth has been interwoven with true history, and often in an inextricable manner,
but seldom one so ridiculous in its conception, so incredible in its details, less founded on fact, and yet, till of late, so generally believed, as we have now to record, as circulated about our chivalric poet. This absurd tale is to the effect, that one Jack Wilton, the hero of a book called the “Unfortunate Traveller” (written by one Thomas Nash, then notorious, and published in 1594), in the course of some adventures on the continent, met the Earl of Surrey ; was informed by him of his affection for Geraldine, and that he had come abroad, partly to visit her birthplace, and partly, at her own instance, to defend the fame of her beauty at Florence against all comers. On his way thither Nash represents him to have visited the famous magician Cornelius Agrippa, who shewed him the image of his mistress, sitting on a couch, reading one of his sonnets to her, and moistening her pillow with tears. At Venice he somewhat debased his chivalrous devotion by an intrigue, on account of which he was thrown into prison, and was delivered through the interference of the English ambassador. When at last he reached Florence, he visited the house and the chamber where Geraldine was born, and burst out into a passion of joy and a strain of poetry. Next, he defied all men to question the supremacy of his mistress's beauty; and the challenge having been accepted, a succession of tilts took place, in all of which Surrey (armed in a shield given him by the Duke of Florence, who was interested in the cause, partly from his esteem for Surrey, and partly because the lady was a Florentine by birth), like another Ivanhoe, ran down his antagonists. Rejecting all offers of advancement from the duke, the elated knight was preparing to roam over Italy, celebrating similar jousts, when letters from the king of England came in, commanding his instant return, which he was reluctantly compelled to obey.
There is, of course, nothing in all the adventures of St George and the Dragon, or of the immortal hero of La Mancha, that is more purely fictitious than this. At the time when Surrey was represented as wandering through Italy in search of exploits, he was, in fact, in England awaiting the birth of his first-born-mourning the death of his friend the Duke of
Richmond-receiving the honour of knighthood from the king at St James'-assisting as one of the mourners at the funeral of Lady Jane Seymour—and on New-Year's Day 1538, attending the court, while it was presenting its then annual present (of three gilded bowls) to the king. It completes the absurdity of the story, that his Geraldine at this time had only attained the mature age of seven, and that she was born not in Italy, but in Ireland !
Yet in this legend we see a proof of the truth of the theory that Surrey had loved deeply, nay madly loved Geraldine. Had not, at least, the public generally believed this as a fact, the numerous fictions which crystallised around it would have been rejected with general incredulity and contempt. Instead of this the story, as told by Nash, was eagerly reproduced—first by Drayton, in his “Heroical Epistles," published in 1598—then by Winstanley in some forgotten notices of the poets—then by the well-known Antony Wood—then by Cibber (or rather Shiels) in his “Lives of the Poets”—and, in fine, became classical and all but final in Warton's celebrated “ History of English Poetry.”
In spring 1539, his second son Henry, afterwards created Earl of Northampton, was born. In 1540, Surrey greatly signalised himself at the tournaments held in honour of the king's marriage to Anne of Cleves. In the close of this year, he was appointed, along with Lord Russell and the Earl of Southampton, to visit Guisnes, for the purpose of overlooking its fortifications, and putting them in a proper state of defence in case of a rupture with France. Here he stayed only a short time. In September this year, he and his father were appointed stewards of the University of Cambridge.
In 1541, his faithful friend Thomas Clere, a cousin of Anne Boleyn's, who afterwards accompanied Surrey in his campaigns, and died of a wound received in his cause, was struck by Sir Edmund Knyvett within the precincts of the court. This has always been reckoned in law a great offence. Scott evinces the ferocity of Roderick Dhu, by representing him as stabbing a knight in Holyrood, while
“ Princes gave way before the stride
And all the readers of “Nigel” remember the danger he incurred by striking Lord Dalgarno in the Park—and the horror felt by Margaret Ramsay at the idea of the punishment to which he had exposed himself—the loss of his right hand. Knyvett was brought to trial, and condemned: but the penalty was remitted, some say owing to Surrey's generous interposition; others to the culprit's great court influence; and others to the king's clemency. The incident would be of no consequence at all in a life where the incidents were numerous and wellknown, and is of very little even in Surrey's obscure and scanty story.
On St George's Day, 1542, the king shewed his great favour for Surrey by creating him a Knight of the Garter. This was the more remarkable and gratifying, as, in the beginning of the year, Henry VIII., “who spared no man in his anger and no woman in his desire," had executed Surrey's cousin, Catherine Howard, in the Tower, after the cohabitation of a fortnight.
“Pride goeth before a fall;" and this probably Surrey felt when, a short time after receiving one of the highest honours his sovereign could confer on a subject, he fell into a disgraceful and dangerous quarrel with a turbulent person of good family, called John à Leigh. The rule is now, that no one should wrestle with a coal-heaver unless he can wrestle him down.” Surrey, who lived long ere Dr Johnson enunciated the above important principle, wrestled with John à Leigh without being able to wrestle him down. On the contrary he was, for some challenge or outrage on his antagonist, committed prisoner to the Fleet, although allowed the aristocratic luxury of two servants to wait on him while he banqueted. In this inglorious position he indited a petition to the Privy Council-surely the most humiliating that ever came from the pen of peer or poet, in which he pleads the excuse of youth for his folly, and promises amendment-and that if the “King's Majesty should think the simple body rashly adventured in the revenge of his own quarrel might be employed in his service, he were happy!” On the 7th of August, he was relieved from durance, on his recognisance of
ten thousand merks, not to offer any further offence to John à Leigh, or to any of his kin.
Shortly after, his pugnacious humour found a more legitimate vent in war. In 1542, Henry VIII. ordered a muster of twenty thousand men at York, and gave the command to the Duke of Norfolk, called by him the “scourge of the Scotch.” Six English earls, including Surrey his son, joined his standard; and after some vexatious delays, Norfolk entered Scotland in the middle of October, pillaged and burned Kelso and Roxburgh, with many granges and villages; but owing to the inclemency of the weather, and the appearance of Huntley with a powerful army on the Scotch side, had to retire and disband the greater part of his army. A sapient London critic seems to have great doubts as to Surrey's share in this emprise (although, in his epitaph on Clere, the poet expressly speaks of being present at the “ blaze of Kelso”), and desiderates particulars as to his “connexion with that expedition”—an expedition which, as it scarcely lasted a fortnight, could not have furnished many particulars of any consequence, so far as Surrey was concerned, who only marched under his father's banner.
On the 5th of April 1543, another incident occurred in Surrey's history, which some antiquarian critics have tried to make a matter of mystery, and to the investigation of which they have solemnly summoned our men of research. The earl—being, as appears from other circumstances in his history, somewhat hot-blooded and impetuous—had committed two mighty offences: first, had ate flesh in Lent; and, secondly, had broken at night with stone-bows certain windows. For these offences he was sent to the Fleet, where he amused himself in writing his “ Satire against the Citizens of London.” The quantity of speculation and wonderment which has been wasted in this incident, proves, first, how little is known of Surrey, since such a trifle has been so magnified ; and, secondly, what solemn noodles have been employed upon his biography, and upon the criticism thereof! One critic seriously “longs for some good hard-working investigator to look into and tell us the truth" about this “ strange case af