Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Golding, Arthur

GOLDING, ARTHUR (1536?–1605?), translator, born probably in London about 1536, was younger son of John Golding, esq., of Belchamp St. Paul and Halsted, Essex, by his second wife, Ursula, daughter of William Merston of Horton, Surrey. His father was one of the auditors of the exchequer, and died 28 Nov. 1547. Margaret, his half-sister, married John de Vere, sixteenth earl of Oxford. Golding is said to have been educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, but his name is not to be found in the college register. He took no degree, and on his title-pages describes himself as ‘gentleman.’ In 1549 he was in the service of Protector Somerset, who wrote, 5 Oct., requesting him to solicit the aid of the Earl of Oxford's servants in repressing rebellion (Nichols, Edward VI, ii. 236). In 1563 he was receiver for his nephew, Edward de Vere, seventeenth earl of Oxford, with whom he seems to have resided for a time in Sir William Cecil's house in the Strand. On 12 Oct. 1565 he dedicated his translation of Cæsar's ‘Commentaries’ to Cecil from Belchamp St. Paul, and completed at the same place his translation of Beza's ‘Tragedie of Abraham's Sacrifice’ in 1575. He spent some time in 1567 at Berwick, and there finished his chief work, his translation of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ on 20 April 1567. In a later year (1576) he was living at Clare, Suffolk. He dates the dedication to Sir Christopher Hatton of his translation of Seneca's ‘De Beneficiis’ (‘the work of … Seneca concerning Benefyting’) from his house in the parish of All-Hallows-on-the-Wall, London (17 March 1577–8). In London he moved in good society, although he showed strong puritan predilections, and occupied himself largely with translations from Calvin and Theodore Beza. His patrons included, besides Cecil, Hatton, and Leicester, the Earl of Essex, Sir William Mildmay, Lord Cobham, and the Earl of Huntingdon. When dedicating a translation from the French to Cobham in 1595 (No. 21 below), he acknowledges the help he received from him in his troubles. He was a member, like the chief literary men of the age, of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, founded by Archbishop Parker in 1572 (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 366). Sir Philip Sidney was one of his friends, and when Sidney left for the Low Countries on his fatal expedition, he entrusted Golding with the fragment of his translation of De Mornay's French treatise on the truth of Christianity, and bade him complete and publish it with a dedication to Leicester. This Golding did in 1587 after Sidney's death, entitling the book ‘A woorke concerning the trewnesse of the Christian Religion begunne to be translated … by Sir Philip Sidney, knight, and at his request finished by Arthur Golding,’ London, 1589. Other editions are dated 1592, 1604 (revised and corrected by Thomas Wilcocks), and 1617 (with further corrections) (cf. Fox Bourne, Sir Philip Sidney, pp. 407–11). Golding also knew Dr. Dee, who seems to have arranged to cure him of fistula on 30 Sept. 1597 (Diary, Camd. Soc. p. 60). On 25 July 1605 an order was issued to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the attorney-general to draw up a grant giving Golding the sole right of printing such of his works as they held to be beneficial to the church and commonwealth. Golding married the widow of George Forster. Nashe, writing in 1589, speaks of him as ‘aged Arthur Golding,’ and of his ‘industrious toyle in Englishing Ovid's “Metamorphosis,” besides many other exquisite editions of divinitie turned by him out of the French tongue into our owne’ (preface to Greene's Menaphon, 1589). The date of his death is not known.

Golding came into much landed property. On 6 Dec. 1576 the death of his brother Henry made him lord of the manor of Easthorp, Essex, besides giving him other property, all of which he alienated (by license) 20 Nov. 1577. On 7 March 1579–80 another brother, George, with his wife, Mary, gave Golding the estate of Netherhall, Gestingthorpe, Essex, and this he sold in 1585. George Golding died 20 Nov. 1584, and his brother then secured other lands in Essex, but he sold nearly all his property in 1595.

With the exception of some English verses prefixed to Baret's ‘Alvearie,’ 1580, Golding's sole original publication was a prose ‘Discourse upon the Earthquake that hapned throughe this realme of England and other places of Christendom, the first of April 1580 …,’ London (by Henry Binneman). Here Golding seeks to show that the earthquake was a judgment of God to punish the wickedness of the age. He denounces with puritan warmth the desecration of the Sabbath by the public performance of stage plays on Sundays. Shakespeare refers to the same earthquake in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ i. 3. It is as the translator of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses’ that Golding deserves to be best known. He published ‘the fyrst fower bookes,’ with a dedication to Leicester (London, by Wyllyam Seres), in 1565; and the reception this work met with was so favourable that in 1567 he issued ‘the xv. bookes’ (London, by Wyllyam Seres). Later editions are dated 1575, 1576, 1584, 1587, 1593, 1603, 1612, and 1675. The dedication, in verse, describes in succession the subject of each of the fifteen books (reprinted in Brydges's ‘Restituta,’ ii. 376–411). The translation is in ballad metre, each line having usually fourteen syllables. It is always lively, and at times poetic. After the first volume was issued in 1565, Thomas Peend published the fable of ‘Salmacis and Hermaphroditus,’ likewise from the ‘Metamorphoses.’ In the preface Peend says that he had translated nearly the whole work, but abandoned his design because another, meaning Golding, was engaged upon it. ‘T. B.,’ in lines prefixed to John Studley's translation of Seneca's ‘Agamemnon,’ 1566, speaks of the renown of Golding, ‘which Ovid did translate,’ and of ‘the thondryng of his verse.’ Puttenham, in his ‘Arte of Poesie,’ associates Golding more than once with Phaer, the celebrated translator of Virgil, whose work is far inferior to Golding's in literary merit. Webbe and Meres also enumerate Golding's ‘Metamorphoses’ among the best translations of their age. Until Sandys's ‘Ovid’ appeared in 1632, Golding's version held the field unchallenged. It is quite certain that Shakespeare was well acquainted with his work. Golding's translation of Cæsar's ‘Commentaries,’ dedicated in 1565 to Cecil, is also an interesting venture. Another edition appeared in 1590. Golding was the second translator of Cæsar, the first having been Tiptoft, earl of Worcester.

The bibliography of Golding's other translations presents many difficulties. Several religious books bearing his initials have been assigned to him, but are undoubtedly by Anthony Gilby [q. v.] This is certainly the case with the translation of Calvin's ‘Commentary on Daniel,’ London, 1570, and ‘The Testamentes of the Twelue Patriarches’ from the Latin of Robert Grosseteste, London, 1581. The following, besides those already mentioned, may be assigned to Golding:

  1. ‘A Briefe Treatise concerning the Burninge of Bucer and Phagius,’ from the Latin, London, 1562.
  2. ‘The Historie of Leonard Aretine (i.e. L. Bruni Aretino) concerning the Warres betweene the Imperialls & the Gothes for the possession of Italy,’ 1563; dedicated to Cecil.
  3. ‘Thabridgemente of the Histories of Trogus Pompeius, collected and wrytten in the Latin Tongue … by the famous Historyographer Justine’ (May 1564), by Thomas Marsh, dedicated to Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford; ‘newlie corrected’ 1570, 1578.
  4. ‘John Calvin, his Treatise concerning Offences,’ don, 1567.
  5. ‘A Postill or Expositions of the Gospels read in the Churches of God on Sundayes and Feast Days of Saincts, written by Nicholas Heminge,’ London, 1569, 1574, 1577, 1579; dedicated to Sir Walter Mildmay.
  6. ‘A Postil or Orderly Disposing of certeine Epistles usually red in the Church of God uppon the Sundayes and Holy dayes … by David Chytraeus,’ London, 1570, 1577, dedicated to Sir Walter Mildmay.
  7. ‘The Psalmes of David and others, with M. John Calvin's Commentaries,’ London, 1571, 1576; dedicated to the Earl of Oxford.
  8. ‘A Booke of Christian Questions and Answers’ (by Theodore Beza), London, 1572, 1577, 1578; dedicated to the Earl of Huntingdon.
  9. ‘A Confutation of the Popes Bull … against Elizabeth, from the Latin of Henry Bullinger the elder,’ London, 1572.
  10. ‘Sermons of M. John Caluine vpon the Epistle of Saincte Paule to the Galatians,’ London, 1574, and n.d.; dedicated to Cecil, lord Burghley.
  11. ‘Sermons of M. John Caluin vpon the Booke of Job,’ London, fol. 1574, 1580, 1584; dedicated to Robert, earl of Essex.
  12. ‘A Catholike Exposition vpon the Reuelation of Sainct John, collected by M. Augustine Marlorat out of divers notable writers,’ London, 1574; dedicated to Sir Walter Mildmay.
  13. ‘A Justification or Clearing of the Prince of Orange,’ London, 1575.
  14. ‘The Warfare of Christians,’ London, 1576; dedicated to Sir William Drewrie.
  15. ‘The Lyfe of … Jasper Colignie … sometyme greate Admirall of Fraunce,’ from the Latin, London, 1576.
  16. ‘An Edict or Proclamation set forthe by the French Kinge upon the Pacifying of the Troubles in Fraunce, with the Articles of the same Pacification read and published .... 13 May 1576,’ London, 1576.
  17. ‘The Sermons of M. Iohn Caluine vpon the Epistle of S. Paule to the Ephesians,’ London, 1577; dedicated to Edmund Grindal, archbishop of Canterbury.
  18. ‘The Sermons of M. Iohn Caluin vpon … Deuteronomie,’ London, 1583; dedicated to Sir Thomas Bromley.
  19. ‘The Worke of Pomponius Mela the Cosmographer concerning the Situation of the World,’ London, 1585. In the dedication to Burghley (6 Feb. 1584–5), Golding says he has sent to press the ‘Polyhistor’ of Julius Solinus and the ‘Travels of Andrew Theuet.’
  20. ‘The Excellent and Pleasant Worke of Iulius Solinus Polyhistor,’ London, 1587; reissued with ‘Pomponius Mela’ in 1590.
  21. ‘Politicke, Moral, and Martial Discourses,’ from the French of Jacques Hurault, London, 1595; dedicated to William, lord Cobham.
  22. ‘A Godly and Fruteful Prayer, with an Epistle to … John [Aylmer] bishop of London,’ from the Latin of Abraham Fleming [q. v.], London, n.d. ‘The Benefit that Christians receyue by Iesus Christ Crucified,’ London, 1573, from a French version of the Italian book of Aonio Paleario [see under Courtenay, Edward], is doubtfully ascribed to Golding.

In Harl. MS. 425, ff. 73–4, is a verse translation by Golding of Haddon's ‘Exhortation to England, 1551;’ first printed in Dr. Furnivall's ‘Ballads from Manuscripts’ (Ballad Soc. 1871), pt. ii. pp. 325–30. In the Harl. MS. 357, art. 5, is a translation (attributed to Golding) of Sleidan's Latin ‘Abridgment of the Chronicle of Sir John Frossard.’ It was printed in 1608, but the translator's name is given on the title-page both as P. and as Per. (i.e. Percival) Golding. A Percival Golding is author of a pedigree of the family of the Veres, earls of Oxford, among the Harleian MSS.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 431–4, 555; Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum, ed. Brydges, p. 110; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum, in MS. Addit. 24488, ff. 435 et seq.; Collier's Reg. of Stationers' Company (Shakespeare Soc.), ii. 118, 220; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert; Morant's Essex; Warton's English Poetry; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 522, 692, ii. 323.]

S. L. L.