Edwards, Richard

, one of our ancient English poets, was born in Somersetshire in 1523, and admitted scholar of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, under the tuition of George Etheridge, May 11, 1540, and probationer fellow Aug. 11, 15i4. In 1547, when Christ church was founded by Henry VIII. he was admitted student of the upper table, and the same year took his master’s degree. Warton cites a passage from his poems to prove that in his early years, he was employed in some department about the court. In the British Museum there is a small set of manuscript sonnets, signed with his initials, addressed to some of the beauties of the courts of queen Mary and queen Elizabeth. He therefore probably did not remain long at the university. In the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, he was made one of the gentlemen of her chapel, and master of the children there, having the character of not only being an excellent musician, but an exact poet, as many of his compositions in music and poetry testify. For these he was highly valued, by those who knew him, especially his associates in Lincoln’s- Inn (of which he was a member), and much lamented by them when he died. This event, according to sir John Hawkins, happened Oct. 31, 1556, but others say in 1566. He wrote “Damon and Pythias,” a comedy, acted at court and in the university, first printed in 1570, or perhaps’ in 1565, and “Palamon and Arcyte,” another comedy in two parts, probably never printed, but acted in Christ-church hall, 1566, before queen Elizabeth, of which performance Wood gives a curious account. Warton thinks it probable that he wrote many other dramatic pieces now lost. He is mentioned by Puttenham, as gaining the prize for comedy and interlude. Besides being a writer of regular dramas, he appears to have been a contriver of masques, and a composer of poetry for pageants. In a word, he united all those arts and accomplishments which ministered to popular pleasantry, in an age when the taste of the courtiers | was not of a much higher order than that of the vulgar in our time. His English poems, for he wrote also Latin poetry, are for the most part extant in “The Paradise of Dainty Devises,” Lond. 1578, 4to, lately reprinted in the “Bibliographer,” where, as well as in our other authorities, are some farther notices of Edwards. It is justly observed by Warton, that his popularity seems to have altogether arisen from those pleasing talents, of which no specimens could be transmitted to posterity, and which prejudiced his partial contemporaries in favour of his poetry. 1

1

Ath. Ox. vol. I. edition by Bliss, 181S. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry. Wood’s Annals. Philips’s Thratrum, by sir E. Brydges. Bibliographer, vol. III. Hawkins’s Hist. of Music. Ellis’s Specimens. Biographia Dramatica.