A History of Elizabethan Literature

By George Saintsbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
FROM TOTTEL'S "MISCELLANY" TO SPENSER

IN a work like the present, forming part of a larger whole and preceded by another part, the writer has the advantage of being almost wholly free from a difficulty which often presses on historians of a limited and definite period, whether of literary or of any other history. That difficulty lies in the discussion and decision of the question of origins--in the allotment of sufficient, and not more than sufficient, space to a preliminary recapitulation of the causes and circumstances of the actual events to be related. Here there is no need for any but the very briefest references of the kind to connect the present volume with its forerunner, or rather to indicate the connection of the two.

There has been little difference of opinion as to the long dead-season of English poetry, broken chiefly, if not wholly, by poets Scottish rather than English, which lasted through almost the whole of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth centuries. There has also been little difference in regarding the remarkable work (known as Tottel Miscellany, but more properly called Songs and Sonnets, written by the Right Honourable Lord Henry Howard, late Earl of Surrey, and other) which was published by Richard Tottel in 1557, and which went through two editions in the summer of that year, as marking the

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E.L. II B

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