Sir William D'Avenant (1606-68) briefly attended Lincoln College, Oxford, and attached himself for a short while to the ageing Fulke Greville, in whose service he learned the court manners that stood him well for the remainder of his life. He evidently liked to imagine himself the natural son of Shakespeare. Richard Flecknoe, in Sir William D'avenant's Voyage to the Other World…(1668), represents him arriving in Elysium, and being amazed
to find never a Poet there, Antient nor Modern, whom in some sort or other he had not disoblig'd by his discommendations, as Homer, Virgil, Tasso, Spencer, and especially Ben. Johnson… Nay, even Shakespear, whom he thought to have found his greatest Friend…
His 'discommendation' of Spenser is not remarkable for special insight, but H.E. Cory [in The Critics of Edmund Spenser, Univ. of California Publications in Modern Philology, II (1911), 104], rather untypically, forgives D'Avenant his reservations.
From A Discourse upon Gondibert…(1650), pp. 11-13; repr. J.E. Spingarn, Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 1908-9), II. 5-6:
Spencer may stand here as the last of this short File of Heroick Poets; Men, whose intellectuals were of so great a making, (though some have thought them lyable to those few censures we have mention'd) as perhaps they will in worthy memory out-last even Makers of Laws, and Founders of Empire, and all but such as must therefore live equally with them, because they have recorded their Names; and consequently with their own hands led them to the Temple of Fame. And since we have dar'd to remember those exceptions which the Curious have against them; it will not be expected I should forget what is objected against Spencer; whose obsolete language we are constrained to mention, though it be grown the most vulgar accusation that is lay'd to his charge.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage. Contributors: R. M.Cummings - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 187.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.