A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation

By Thomas Warton; Rodney M. Baine | Go to book overview

A HISTORY OF ENGLISH POETRY: AN UNPUBLISHED CONTINUATION

(In enumerating so many of these petty Epigrammatists, I may have been perhaps too prolix,--but I did it to shew the taste & turn of writing at this time; & now proceed to observe, that, in the year, 1614,)1 the vogue which satire had acquire from Hall and Marston, probably encouraged Barten Holiday of Christ-Church in Oxford, to translate Persius, when he was scarcely twenty years of age. The first edition is dated 1616. This version had four editions from its publication to the year 1673 inclusive, notwithstanding the versification is uncommonly scabrous. The success of his Persius induced Holiday to translate Juvenal, a clearer & more translatable satirist. But both versions, as Dryden has justly observed,2 were written for scholars, and not for the world: and by treading on the heels of his originals, he seems to have hurt them by too near an approach. He seized the meaning but not the spirit of his authors. Holiday, however, who was afterwards graduated in divinity and promoted to an archdeaconry, wrote a comedy called the Marriage of the Arts, acted before the court at Woodstock-palace, which was even too grave and scholastic for king James the first.

I close my prolix review of these pieces by remarking, that as our old plays have been assembled and exhibited to the public in one uniform view,3 so a collection of our old satires and epigrams would be a curious and useful publication. Even the dull and inelegant productions, of a remote period which have real Life for their theme, become valuable and important by preserving authentic pictures of antient popular manner: by delineating the gradations of vice and folly, they furnish new speculation to the moral historian, and at least contribute to the illustration of writers of greater consequence.

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A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation
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  • Title Page *
  • Introduction i
  • A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation 1
  • Notes to the Text 13
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