Carew, Richard (1555-1620) (DNB00)
CAREW, RICHARD (1555–1620), poet and antiquary, is the best known member of one of the leading families of Cornwall. His father, Thomas Carew of Antony House, in the parish of East Anton , married Elisabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Edgecumbe, and their eldest son, Richard, was born at Antony House on 17 July 1555. When only eleven years old he became a gentleman commoner of Christ Church, Oxford but his rooms were in Broadgates Hall, and he was probably one of two persons called Carew appearing in a list of the undergraduated resident in that hall about 1570. Here, when a scholar of three years' standing, he was called upon, as he modestly says, 'upon a wrong conceived opinion touching my sufficiency,’ to dispute ‘extempore (impar conqressus Achilli) with the matchless Sir Philip Sidney, in presence of 'the Earls Leicester, Warwick, and divers other great personages.' What the issue of the contest was Carew has omitted to state, but later historians have added that the dispute resulted in a drawn battle. The family estates passed to him early in life, and in the verses on his ancestors and his issue which he incorporated in his 'Survey of Cornwall' (pp. 246-7, ed. 1811) it is recorded that he was the fifth of his race to inherit the patrimony. In 1577 he married Juliana, the eldest daughter of John Arundel of Trerice, by his first wife, Catherine, daughter of John Coswarth, and through his marriage he inherited a part of the Coswarth, property. He devoted himself with great zeal to the discharge of his duties as a country gentleman, and solaced his leisure hours with inquiries into the history and antiquities of his native county, and with the study of foreign languages, until he had become a master of five tongues—the epitaph which he wrote on himself specifies the languages of Greece, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain—by reading, 'without any other teaching.' In 1581 he was appointed a justice of the peace, and in 1586 he was called upon to act as high sheriff of Cornwall. As he was the owner of large estates near several Cornish boroughs, and his connections embraced the principal gentry of the country, he had little difficulty in obtaining a seat in parliament. In 1584 he was returned for Saltash, and in 1597 he sat for Michell. He was one of the deputy-lieutenants of Cornwall, and he served under Sir Walter Raleigh, the lord-lieutenant of the county, in the posts of treasurer of the lieutenancy and colonel of the regiment, five hundred strong; which had for its charge the protection of Cawsand Bay. Of the Society of Antiquaries first established by Archbishop Parker, Carew became an active member in 1589, and about the same time began the task of compiling an historical survey of his native county. Among the gentry of Cornwall he took the first place, and the antiquaries of London accepted him as their equal. Spelman, who addressed to him an 'Epistle on Thithes,' and Camden were his intimate friends, and in Ben Jonson's 'Execration upon Vulcan' he is classed with Cotton and Selden. John Dunbar has two Latin epigrams to Carew (Centuriæ Sex epigrammaton, 6th Centur., 51 and 52), laudding his knowledge of history, poetry, and the law, and punning on his name; while Charles Fitzgeoffry, in his 'Affaniæ,' book iii., praises his linguistic attainments. He died on 6 Nov. 1620, 'as he was at his private prayers in his study (his daily practice) at fower in the afternoon,' and was buried in Antony Church. Against its north wall stands a plain tablet of black marble bearing a long inscription to his memory. Another epitaph was written for him by Camden, which dwells on the modesty of his manners, the generosity of his disposition, his varied learning, an his christian zeal. Both epigraphs, together with some verses written by the historian immediately before his death, are printed in the 'Parochial History of Cornwall,' i. 24. The earliest work of Carew is the translation of the first five cantos of Tasso's 'Godfrey of Bvlloigne, or the recouerie of Hiervsalsm,' a very rare volume which appeared in 1594, and according to some copies 'imprinted by Iohn Windet for Thomas Man,' an in others 'by Iohn Windet for Christopher Hunt of Exceter,' who served his time to Man. The fourth book of the translation was reproduced in S. W. Singers reprint of Fairfax's translation, 1817, vol. i. xxxiii-lvii, and the whole work was issued by the Rev. Alexander B. Grosart in 1881 in an edition limited to sixty-two copies. Carew was for some time unaware that his translation was being passed through the press, and when it came to his ears the first five cantos only were issued because he commanded 'a staie of the rest till the sommer,' a summer which never arrived. The accuracy of his translation has been much commended, but it has generally been allowed that its effect is weakened by his endeavour to make the English version an exact copy, line by line, of the original. It contains several passages Of much beauty, and great praise is given to many extracts from it in an elaborate article in the 'Retrospective Review,' iii. 32–50. In the same year (1594) there appeared a rendering of 'Examen de Ingenios. The examination of man's wits by John Huarte. Translated out of the Spanish Tongue by M. Camillo Camilli. Englished out of his Italian by R. C[arew], Esquire,' which was reprinted in 1596, 1604, and 1616. Huarte’s work is a dull treatise of little value, on the corporeal and mental qualities of men and women. Carew's translation is dedicated to Sir Francis Godolphin, who lent him Camilli’s version, a loan recorded in the words, 'Good Sir, your books returneth vnto you clad in a Cornish gabardine.' An anonymous poem, called 'A Herring's Tayle,' which was published in 1598, has been assigned to Carew on the strength of a statement in Guillim's 'Heraldry' (1611), p. 154, and as the assertion was made during the lifetime of Carew by one of like tasteswith himself, its accuracy can be accepted. This poem, which contains some vigorous lines, is not free as a whole from the charge of obscurity. The subject is
The strange adventures of the hardie Snayle
Who durst (vnlikely match) the weathercock assayle.
When Carew next appeared as an author it was in topofpraphical literature. 'The Svrvey of Cornwall. Written by Richard Carew of Antonie, Esquire,' had been long in hand, though it was not published until 1602, the subscription on the last leaf being 'Deo gloria, mihi gratia, 1602, April 23.' He meditated in 1606 the issuing of a second edition, 'not so much for the enlarging it as the correcting mine and the printer^s oversights,' but it was not republished before 1723, when there was prefixed to it a 'life of the author by H**** C'****,' a catch-penny device intended to delude the world with the belief that it was the composition of a member of the family of Carew, but it was in reality a dull compilation by Pierre des Maizeaux. The 'Survey' and the life were reissued in 1769, and another edition of the 'Survey,' with notes by Thomas Tonkin, was printed for Lord De Dunstanville in 1811. Carew's history of Cornwall still remains one of the most entertaining works in the English language. In its pages may be discerned the character of an English gentleman in the brightest age of our national history, interesting himself in the pursuits of all around him and skilled in the pastimes of every class. The industries of the county and its topographical peculiarities are depicted with considerable detail, and if there is little genealogical information in its pages the characters of its celebrities are described with quaintness and with kindliness. Carew's 'pleasant and faithfull description' of Cornwall was the phrase of Fuller, and the words were well chosen. He was also the author of 'An Epistle concerning the excellencies of the English tongue,' which appeared in the second edition of Camden's 'Remains,' 1605, and was reprinted with the 1723 and 1769 editions of the 'Survey of Cornwall.' The merits assigned by him to the language are significancy, easiness to be learnt, copiousness, and sweetness. This little essay possesses the charm which is inherent in all Carew's writings, but it would have passed out of recollection by this time but for its mention, in a comparison of English and foreign writers, of Shakespeare's name. A manuscript volume of his poems was formerly in the possession of the Rev. John Prince, the commemorator of the worthies of Devon. Mr. James Crossley suggested that Carew might be the R C. who translated Henry Stephens's 'World of Wonders,' 1607 (Notes and Queries, 6th ser., viii. 247, 1877). Several of his letters to Camden are among the 'Cottonian MSS.,' (Julius C. v.) A letter to Sir Robert Cotton is printed in 'Letters of Eminent Literary Men' (Camden Soc., 1848, pp. 98-100).
[Fuller's Worthies, 1811, i. 218; Wood's Athenæ Oxen. (Bliss), ii. 284-7; Corser's Collectanea, iii. 242; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; Life in Survey of Cornwall, 1723.]