, one of our ancient English poets, was born in Somersetshire in 1523,
, 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, 1514. 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 “
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.
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.