The Tower of Doctrine.
[ 1]The reader has here a specimen of the descriptive powers of Stephen Hawes, a celebrated poet in the reign of Henry VII. though now little known. It is extracted from an allegorical poem of his (written in 1505,) intitled "The Hist. of Graunde Amoure & La Belle Pucel, called the Palace of Pleasure, &c." 4to. 1555. See more of Hawes in Ath. Ox. v. 1. p. 6. and Warton's Observ. v. 2. p. 105. He was also author of a book, intitled, "The Temple of Glass. Wrote by Stephen Hawes, gentleman of the bedchamber to King Henry VII." Pr. for Caxton, 4to. no date.
The following stanzas are taken from Chap. iii. and iv. of the Hist. above mentioned. "How Fame departed from Graunde Amour and left him with Governaunce and Grace, and howe he went to the Tower of Doctrine, &c." As we are able to give no small lyric piece of Hawes's, the reader will excuse the insertion of this extract.
I LOKED about and saw a craggy roche,
Farre in the west neare to the element,
And as I dyd then unto it approche,
Upon the toppe I sawe refulgent
The royal tower Of MORALL DOCUMENT,
Made of fine copper with turrettes fayre and hye,
Which against Phebus shone so marveylously;
That for the very perfect bryghtnes
What of the tower, and of the cleare sunne,
I could nothyng behold the goodlines
Of that palaice, whereas Doctrine did wonne:
Tyll at the last, with mysty wyndes donne,
The radiant brightnes of golden Phebus
Auster gan cover with clowde tenebrus.
Then to the tower I drewe, nere and nere,
And often mused of the great hyghnes
Of the craggy rocke, which quadrant did appeare:
But the fayre tower, so much of ryches
Was all about, sexangled doubtles;
Gargeyld with grayhoundes, and with many lyons,
Made of fyne golde; with divers sundry dragons.[ 2]
The little turrets with ymages of golde
About was set, whiche the wynde aye moved
With propre vices, that I did well beholde
About the towers, in sundry wyse they hoved
With goodly pypes, in their mouthes ituned,
That with the wynd they pyped a daunce
Iclipped Amour de la hault plesaunce.
The toure was great of marveylous wydnes,
To whyche ther was no way to passe but one,
Into the toure for to have an intres:
A grece there was ychesyld all of stone
Out of the rocke, on whyche men dyd gone
Up to the toure, and in lykewyse dyd I
Wyth bothe the Grayhoundes in my company:[ 3]
Tyll that I came unto a ryall gate,
Where I sawe stondynge the goodly Portres,
Whyche axed me, from whence I came a-late;
To whome I gan in every thynge expresse
All myne adventure, chaunce, and busynesse,
And eke my name; I tolde her every dell:
Whan she herde this she lyked me right well.
Her name, she sayd, was called COUNTENAUNCE
Into the base courte she dyd me then lede,
Where was a fountayne depured of plesance,
A noble sprynge, a ryall conduyte-hede,
Made of fyne golde enameled with reed;
And on the toppe four dragons blewe and stoute
Thys dulcet water in four partyes dyd spoute.
Of whyche there flowed foure ryvers ryght clere,
Sweter than Nylus or Ganges was ther odoure
Tygrys or Eufrates unto them no pere:
I dyd than taste the aromatyke lycoure,
Fragraunt of fume, and swete as any flowre;
And in my mouthe it had a marveylous scent
Of divers spyces, I knewe not what it ment.
And after thys further forth me brought
Dame Countenaunce into a goodly Hall,
Of jasper stones it was wonderly wrought:
The wyndowes cleare depured all of crystall,
And in the roufe on hye over all
Of golde was made a ryght crafty vyne;
Instede of grapes the rubies there dyd shyne.
The flare was paved with berall clarified,
With pillers made of stones precious,
Like a place of pleasure so gayely glorified,
It myght be called a palaice glorious,
So muche delectable and solacious;
The hall was hanged hye and circuler
With cloth of arras in the rychest maner,
That treated well of a ful noble story,
Of the doubty waye to the tower perillous:[ 4]
Howe a noble knyght should wynne the victory
Of many a serpente foule and odious.
* * * * * * * *
1. This poem has received some few corrections by comparison with The Pastime of Pleasure, as put forth by the Percy Society in 1845.-- Editor.
2. Greyhounds, Lions, Dragons, were at that time the royal supporters.
3. This alludes to a former part of the poem.
4. The story of the poem.