Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage

By R. M.Cummings | Go to book overview

63.

John Lane

1617, 1621

John Lane (flor. c. 1620) produced a great deal of doggerel, much of which is so bad as to be unintelligible. Though an intimate of Milton's father, he could not have taught Milton much. As a poet, he relies heavily on Spenser and the earlier English poets. To support the worthwhileness of his effort at a continuation of Chaucer's Squire's Tale (Bodleian MS. Douce 170), he cites Spenser on Chaucer as an authority. He also writes with considerable feeling on Spenser's death in Tritons Trumphet. The passages printed below must count as his most enlightening.

(a) From preface to revision of Lydgate's History of Guy of Warwick, B.M. MS. Harleian 5243, (written 1617) fol. 4; repr. in Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript, Ballads and Romances (1868), p. 522v:

In which last, the heroical kind; Homer bestirred him selfe to lead the dawnce. Virgil blasoned the riches of his learninge in the same cloth of arras. The ancient English Poetes (meaning allwaies the sownd ones) have delivered them of heroical birthes in this kind; which doe survive of theire deceased parentes glorie, all of them adducinge a complete knight, in the personations of twoe in number; and maie as lawfullie bee instanced in one: and all as well in twoe, as pleaseth the ingenious. For so Mr Edm: Spencer in his allegorical declaratorie, faerely declameth.

Ibid.; repr. Hales and Furnivall, pp. 524-4v:

Thus Lidgat faierlie discharginge him selfe, leaveth it apparent, that the meere historien, is of all other infestus! the most malignant toward the Poet historical; whome hee vnderstandeth not: though him the Poet doth, at ann haier, is thearefore the most vnfitt to accuse, or censure the industrious, in the same case, that Prince Hector, and kings Artur maie also bee doubted of, because they likewise have binn poeticalie

-138-

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