Grimbold, Nicholas

, a poet of considerable rank in his time, was a native of Huntingdonshire, and received the first part of his academical education at Christ’s college in Cambridge, where he became B. A. in 1539 or 1540. Removing to Oxford in 1542, he was elected fellow of Merton college; but, about 1547, having opened a rhetorical lecture in the refectory of Christ church, then newly founded, he was transplanted to that society, which gave the greatest encouragement to such students as were distinguished for their proficiency in criticism and philology. The same year he wrote a Latin tragedy, which probably was acted in the college, entitled “Archipropheta, sive Joannes Baptista,” dedicated to the dean, Richard Cox, and printed Colon. 1548, 8vo. In 1548, he explained all the four books of Virgil’s Georgics in a regular prose Latin paraphrase, in the public hall of his college, which was printed at London in 1591, 8vo. He wrote also explanatory commentaries, or lectures, on the <c Andria“of Terence, the Epistles of Horace, and many pieces of Cicero, perhaps for the same auditory. He translated Tully’s Offices into English, which he dedicated to the learned Thirlby, bishop of Ely, printed at London, 1553, 8vo, and reprinted in 1574 and 1596. He also made translations from some of the Greek classics; but these, Mr. Warton thinks, were never published; among others was the” Cyropaedia.“Bale mentions some plays and poems, but not with sufficient precision to enable us to know whether they were in Latin or English. It is allowed, however, that he was the second English poet after lord Surrey who wrote in blank verse, and added to Surrey’s style new strength, elegance, and modulation. In the disposition and conduct of his cadences, says our poetical historian, he often approaches to the legitimate structure of the improved blank verse, although he is not quite free from those dissonancies and asperities, which in his time adhered to the general character and state of English diction. Both Mr. Warton and Mr. Ellis have given specimens of his poetry from” The Songes written by N. G.“annexed to the” Songes and Soanettes of uncertain Auctours“in TottelPs edition of | lord Surrey’s Poems (reprinted in the late edition of the English poets). As a writer of verses in rhyme, Mr. Warton thinks that Grimbold yields to none of his contemporaries, for a masterly choice of chaste expression, and the concise elegancies of didactic versification; and adds that some of the couplets in his” Praise of Measure-keeping,“or moderation, have all the smartness which mark the modern style of sententious poetry, and would have done honour to Pope’s ethic epistles. It is supposed that he died about 1563. Wood and Tanner, and after them, Warton, are decidedly of opinion that he is the same person, called by Strype” one Grimbold," who was chaplain to bishop Ridley, and who was employed by that prelate while in prison, to translate into English Laurentius Valla’s book against the fiction of Constantine’s Donation, with some other popular Latin pieces against the papists. In Mary’s reign, it is said that he was imprisoned for heresy, and saved his life by recantation. This may be true of the Grimbold mentioned by Strype, but we doubt whether he be the same with our poet, who is mentioned in high terms by Bale, on account of his zeal for the reformed doctrines, without a syllable of his apostacy, which Bale must have known, and would not have concealed. 1


Bale and Tanner. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry. Ellis’s Specimens. Atheu. Oxon. vol. I. new edit, by Bliss.