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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VIII. The New English Poetry

§ 15. George Tubervile

In Turbervile, Googe’s friend and fellow-worker, the school of Wyatt and Surrey comes perilously near its nadir. George Turbervile was born of a good Dorset family, and was educated at Winchester and New College. Later, he became secretary to Thomas Randolph, and accompanied him on his embassy to Russia, whence he wrote “certain letters in verse,” which may be found in the first volume of Hakluyt. Like Googe, he composed very little original poetry, though he was an energetic translator. Ovid’s Heroical Epistles, Mantuan’s Eclogues and Mancinus’s Plaine Path to Perfect Vertue were all translated by him between 1567 and 1568, and the first had run through five editions by 1605. That Turbervile was a man of taste is proved by his lines to Surrey (in the last of which, by the way, he scans Earle’s, as he always does, as a dissyllable); praising him because “our mother tongue by him hath got such light, As ruder speech thereby is banished quite,” and because he puts “each word in place.” The refining influence of Surrey was what Turbervile admired and attempted, with some success, to carry on in his Epitaphs, Epigrams, Songs and Sonets (1567), his only volume of original poetry. The praise of Surrey shows no little skill in managing the heroic couplet with ease and point; but the inevitable double-six-and-fourteener had a fatal attraction for him, and becomes in his hands little better than doggerel. The reason was partly, no doubt, that his stock of ideas was small. He fell back very largely on Wyatt for his matter, and, in attempting to refine Wyatt, he waters him down sadly. Of Wyatt’s eight-line adaptation of Serafino, The furious goone, Turbervile makes eighteen lines. Of the famous epigram about the two men, the noose and the gold, which Plato (if he were the author of the Greek version) wrote in two lines, Ausonius in four and Wyatt in eight (For shamefast harm of great, and hatefull nede) Turbervile makes twelve; Wyatt’s Complaint upon Love to Reason is imitated in “poulter’s measure” and enlarged to allow Plato, Tullie, Plutarch, Sense and Reason herself all to speak against Love; Turbervile’s Pretie epigram of a scholer, that having read Vergil’s Aenidos, maried a curst wife, takes seven stanzas to say what a writer in Tottel’s Miscellany, whom Warton is inclined to believe to be Sir Thomas More, had said in two; and instances could be multiplied. Turbervile’s satire addressed To the Rayling Rout of Sycophants (by which he means critics) throws an interesting side-light on the literary activity of the age; at least one of his poems, The green that you would wish me wear, is deservedly well known for its beauty and spirit, while his Lover is a good example of an airy and delicate use of very short lines which Googe never accomplished.