It is after all in such a passage as this that we see the true William Browne, with all his high-handedness and worthy enthusiasm, the poet who not only loves his country with a lover’s passion and cannot tolerate that any should be compared to her in fairness of feature, in stateliness of stature, or in virtue of mind; but who, first perhaps among English poets, has that more local patriotism, narrower and more intimate, for his own home, for its moors, its streams, its associations, all the actual or imagined surroundings of his beloved Tavistock, and carries in his heart for ever the cry of the wild west—
Devon, O Devon, in wind and rain!
Approaching the romance, as we do, from the point of view rather of the development of the pastoral ideal than of the history of prose narrative or of the novel, we may spare ourselves any detailed consideration of the famous work of John Lyly. Although in the novel which has made ‘Euphuism’ a word and a bye-word in the language he supplied the literary medium for the work of subsequent pastoral writers such as Greene and Lodge, his own compositions in this kind are confined entirely to the drama.
The translations in this department are for the most part negligible. There is, however, one notable exception, namely, the rendering by Bartholomew Yong or Young of Montemayor’s Diana, together with the continuations of Ferez and Gil Polo. Completed as early as May, 1583, the work remained in manuscript until 1598, when it was published in the form of a handsome folio. Although, as we have already had occasion to notice, the verse portions were not for the most part of a nature to add lustre to an anthology such as England’s Helicon, the whole forms a not unworthy Tudor translation. We learn from Yong’s preface that portions of the romance had already been Englished by Edward Paston, a descendant of the famous Norfolk letter-writers, who had family relations with Spain and possessed an intimate knowledge of the language. Of this work nothing further is known. Some two years, however, before Yong’s version issued from the press, the first book of Montemayor’s portion was again translated by Thomas Wilson, and of this a manuscript yet survives. Passing mention may also be made of Angel Day’s translation of Daphnis and Chloe containing the original insertion of the Shepherd’s Holiday with the praises of Elizabeth in verse, and of Robert Tofte’s Honours Academy (1610), distantly following Ollenix du Mont-Sacre’s Bergerie de Juliette, but which, as also John Pyper’s version of d’Urfe’s Astree (1620), have received sufficient notice in being recorded in connexion with their originals.
Earlier in date of publication and belonging to an elder tradition than the Arcadia, though later in date of composition, and it may be at times betraying a familiarity with Sidney’s manuscript, the romances of the Bohemian Robert Greene, and the buccaneer-physician Thomas Lodge, are naturally the first to claim our attention.