1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Puttenham

Philip Bliss, Athenae Oxonienses (1815) 1:742n.



Of George Puttenham little is now known beyond the information to be derived from his principal work. From this we are led to suppose that he was descended from a respectable family. He was certainly by his own confession educated in Oxford, although no traces have been yet discovered of his college or the time of his entry: that he did not take a degree may, I think, be safely affirmed. At the age of eighteen he wrote an eclogue addressed to king Edward the sixth, from which we may suppose that he was employed about the court at an early age. He made one or more tours to the continent, visited at the courts of France, Spain, and Italy, and was at the Spa about the year 1570. The date of his return is not ascertained, nor is any thing more known of his life than that he was a courtier and one of the queen's gentlemen pensioners. Mr. Gilchrist remarks to me that queen Eliz. in the 30th year of her reign granted the rectory and parish church of St. Botolph Aldergate to George Puttenham for a term of years. (Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 308.) But this probably refers to the temporalities of the church.

The following is a list of his works, not any of which (if we except the three last) are now known to exist.

1. Philocalia, or the figure of ornament.

2. De Decoro, on the decency of speech and behaviour.

3. Ierotechni, on the mythology of the ancients.

4. The original and pedigree of English Tongue.

5. Ginecocratia, a comedy.

6. Lusty London, an enterlude.

7. Woer, an enterlude.

8. Triumphals in honour of queen Elizabeth.

9. Isle of Great Britain. A brief romance intended for recitation.

10. Elpine, an eclogue made to Edward Vith.

11. Minerva, An hymn addressed to Q. Elizabeth.

12. The Arte of English Poesie continued into three Bookes:

The first of Poets and Poesie, the second of Proportion, the third of Ornament. Lond. 1598, 4to. (Bodl. FFF. Art.) and reprinted, with a biographical preface and an index by Joseph Haslewood. Lond. 1811, 4to.

13. Partheniades, various verses on queen Elizabeth. First printed in Nichols's Progresses, vol. 2, and prefixed to Haslewood's reprint of the Arte of Poesie.

14. An Apologie or true defence of her majesties honour and good renowme against all such as have unduelie sought or shall seek to blemish the same with any injustice, crueltie, or other unprincely behaviour in any parte of her majesties proceedings against the late Scottish Queene. Be it for her first surprince, imprisonment, process, attaynder or death. MS. in the Harleian collection. This was first pointed out to me by Mr. Gilchrist of Stamford, and has since been made the subject of communication to the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. lxxxii. (1812) p. 3, by Mr. Hazlewood, to whose correct edition of the Arte of English Poesie I am indebted for the above account of the author....