William Webbe (1568-91) was educated at St John's in Cambridge, where he knew both Spenser and Harvey, though clearly not well. It is not the least importance of the Discourse however, that it reflects the sort of critical notions with which Spenser grew up. Apart from the more general comment printed here, lines from the Shepheardes Calender are used by Webbe to illustrate 'the different sortes of verses'.
A Discourse of English Poetrie (1586), sig. Biii; repr. G. Gregory Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays (Oxford, 1904), I. 232:
Wherevnto I doubt not equally to adioyne the authoritye of our late famous English Poet, who wrote the Shepheards Calender, where lamenting the decay of Poetry, at these dayes, saith most sweetely to the same.
Then make thee winges of thine aspyring wytt,
And whence thou earnest flye back to heauen apace. &c.
[October ll. 83-84]
Whose fine poeticall witt, and most exquisite learning, as he shewed aboundantly in that peace of worke, in my iudgement inferiour to the workes neither of Theocritus in Greeke, nor Virgill in Latine, whom hee narrowly immitateth: so I nothing doubt, but if his other workes were common abroade, which are as I thinke in the close custodie of certaine his friends, we should haue of our own Poets, whom wee might matche in all respects with the best. And among all other his workes whatsoeuer, I would wysh to haue the sight of hys English Poet, which his freend E.K. did once promise to publishe, which whether he performed or not, I knowe not, if he did, my happe hath not beene so good as yet to see it.