Turbervile, George

, an English poet, descended from a family of considerable note in Dorsetshire, was a younger son of Nicholas Turbervile of Whitchurch, and | supposed to have been born about 1530. He received hia education at Winchester school, and became fellow of New college, Oxford, in 1561, but left the university without taking a degree, and resided for some time in one of the inns of court. He appears to have accumulated a stock of classical learning, and to have been well acquainted with modern languages. He formed his ideas of poetry partly on the classics, and partly on the study of the Italian school. His poetical pursuits, however, did not interfere with more important business, as his well-known abilities recommended him to the post of secretary to Thomas Randolph, esq. who was appointed queen Elizabeth’s ambassador at the court of Russia. While in this situation, he wrote three poetical epistles to as many friends, Edward Davies, Edmund Spenser (not the poet), and Parker, describing the manners of the Russians. These may be seen, in Hackluyt’s voyages, vol. I. p. 381. After his return, he was much courted as a man of accomplished education and manners; and the first edition of his " Songs and Sonnets/* published in 1567, seems to have added considerably to his fame. A second edition appeared in 1570, with many additions and corrections.

His other works were, translations of the “Heroical Epistles of Ovid,” of which four editions were printed; and the “Eclogues of B. Mantuan,” published in 1567. The only copy known of this volume is in the Royal Library. Wood, who appears to have seen it, informs us that one Thomas Harvey afterwards translated the same eclogues, and availed himself of Turbervile’s translation, without the least acknowledgment. Among the discoveries of literary historians, it is to be regretted that such tricks are to be traced to very high antiquity. Another very rare production of our author, although twice printed, in 1576 and 1587, is entitled “Tragical Tales, translated by Turbervile, in time of his troubles, out of sundrie Italians, with the argument & L’Envoye to each tale.” What his troubles were, we are not told. To the latter edition of these tales were annexed “Epitaphs and Sonets, with some Other broken pamphlettes and Epistles, sent to certain e of his friends in England, at his being in Moscovia, anno 1569.” Wood has mistaken this for his “Epitaphs, Epigrams, Songs, and Sonets,” from which it totally differs.

Our author was living in 1594, and in great esteem, but we have no account of his death. There appear to have | tieen two other persons of both his names, both natives of Dorsetshire and nearly contemporaries, one of whom was a commoner of Gloucester-hall in 1581, aged eighteen, and the other a student of Magdalen-hall in 1595, aged seventeen. Wood was not able to tell which of the three was the author of“Essays, politic and moral,” which were published in 1608, nor of the “Booke of Falconrye and Hawking, heretofore published by G. Turbervile, gent, and now revived, corrected, and augmented by another hand,” Lond. loll. But the intelligent editor of “Phillips’s Theatrum” is of opinion that this work was the production of our poet, from its having commendatory verses prefixed by Gascoigne; and the curious biographical tract of Whetstone, lately reprinted in the edition of the English Poets, before Gascoigne’s works, notices a production of that author on hunting, which Mr. Park thinks is the one printed with the above “Booke of Falconrye,” and usually attributed to Turbervile. Besides these, our poet wrote commendatory verses to the works of several of his contemporaries.

Turbervile was a sdnnetteer of great note in his time, although, except Harrington, his contemporaries and successors appear to have been sparing of their praises. It is probably to some adverse critics that he alludes, in his address to Sycophants. Gascoigne also used to complain of the Zoilus’s of his time. There is a considerable diversity of fancy and sentiment in Turbervile’s pieces: the verses in praise of the countess of Warwick are ingenipusly imagined, and perhaps in his best style, and his satirical effusions, if occasionally flat and vulgar, are characteristic of his age. Many of his allusions, as was then the fashion, are taken from the amusement of hawking, and these and his occasional strokes on large noses, and other personal redundancies or defects, descended afterwards to Shakspeare, and other dramatic writers. He entitles his pieces Epitaphs and Epigrams, Songs and Sonnets, but the reader will seldom recognize the legitimate characteristics of those species of poetry. His epitaphs are without pathetic reflection, being stuffed with common-place railing against “the cursed cruelty” of death; and his epigrams are often conceits without point, or, in some instances, the point is placed first, and the conclusion left “lame and impotent.” His love sonnets, although seemingly addressed to a real mistress, are full of the borrowed passion of a translator, | and the elaborate and unnatural language of a scholar. The classics in his age began to be studied very generally, and were no sooner studied than translated. This retarded the progress of invention at a time when the language was certainly improving; and hence among a number of authors who flourished in this period, we seldom meet with the glow of pure poetry. It may, however, be added in favour of Turbervile, that he seldom transgresses against morals or delicacy. 1

1

English Poets, 21 vols. 1810. —Ath. Ox. vol. 1. Warton’s Hist. of Poetry. Censura Lit. vols. II. and III, Philips’s Theatrum, by sir E. Brydges. Ellis’s Specimens.