Elizabethan Critical Essays

By G. Gregory Smith | Go to book overview

WILLIAM WEBBE
(A DISCOURSE OF ENGLISH POETRIE)
1586
[A Discourse of English Poetrie. ∥ Together with the Authorsiudgment, louching the re-formation of our Eng-lish Verse. ∥ By William WebbeGraduate was printed at London in 1586 by Iohn Charlewood for Robert Walley (1 vol. 4to). The text is taken from the rare copy in the Bodleian ( Malone708). Webbe dedicated this 'draught of English Poetry' to Edward Suliard, of Flemyngs, in the parish of Runwell, Essex, to whose sons Edward and Thomas he had been tutor. 'I sende it into your sight, not as anie wyttie peece of worke that may delight you, but, being a sleight somewhat compyled for recreation in the intermyssions of my daylie businesse (euen thys Summer Eueninges), as a token of that earnest and vnquenchable desyre I haue to shewe my selfe duetifull and welwylling towardes you1.']

A PREFACE TO THE NOBLE POETS OF
ENGLANDE.

AMONG the innumerable sortes of Englyshe Bookes, and infinite fardles of printed pamphlets, wherewith thys Countrey is pestered, all shoppes stuffed, and euery study furnished, the greatest part I thinke, in any one kinde, are such as are either meere Poeticall, or which tende in some respecte (as either in matter or forme)to

5

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1
Warton informs us that Edward Hake wrote a tract entitled The Touch-stone of Wittes (12mo, black letter; London, Edmund Botifaunt, 1588), 'chiefly compiled with some slender additions from William Webbe's Discourse of English Poetrie' ( Hist. iv. 97). He quotes one sentence from it: 'Then haue we the Mirrour of Magistrates lately augmented by my friend mayster Iohn Higgins, and penned by the choysest learned wittes, which, for the stately-proportioned uaine of

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