The last kind of Poetry in Prose, is that which in later Ages has overrun the World, under the Name of Romances, which tho’ it seems Modern, and a Production of the Gothick Genius, yet the Writing is antient…. The true Spirit or Vein of antient Poetry in this Kind, seems to shine most in Sir Philip Sidney, whom I esteem both the Greatest Poet and the Noblest Genius of any that have left Writings behind them, and published in ours or any modern Language; a Person born capable not only of forming the greatest Idæaes, but of leaving the noblest Examples, if the length of his Life had been equal to the Excellence of his Wit and his Virtues.
Wood (1632-95), historian of the University of Oxford, gathered information and opinions on writers and bishops for Athenae Oxonienses. John Aubrey (see No. 63) was one of his main sources.
PHILIP SIDNEY, the short-liv’d Ornament of his noble Family, and the Marcellus of the English Nation, hath deserv’d, and without dispute or envy enjoyed, the most exalted praises of his own and of succeeding Ages. The Poets of his time, especially Spencer, reverenc’d him not only as a Patron, but a Master; and he was almost the only Person in any age (I will not except Mecænas)1 that could teach the best rules of Poetry, and most freely reward the performances of Poets. He was a Man of a sweet nature, of excellent behaviour, of much, and withall of well digested, learning; so that rarely wit, courage, breeding, and other additional accomplishments of conversation have met in so high a degree in any single Person. It is to be wish’d that his life might be written by some