1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Wither

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 2:133, 4:41.



George Wither began early to display his rhyming talent, which he exercised for a long course of years, and had many admirers among readers of a lower class. He was, in several respects, an unsuccessful, but was ever a persevering writer. He was imprisoned for his first book, entitled, Abuses whipt and stript; and continued to write satires in prison. He also wrote his Eclogues during his confinement, which are esteemed the best of his numerous works. He was, in the time of the civil wars, and officer in the parliament army, and was taken prisoner by the royalists, and condemned to be hanged. Sir John Denham is said to have begged his life of the king, for this reason: "That there might be, in England, a worse poet than himself." Ob. 1667, Aet. 79.

I shall conclude all I have to say of this everlasting rhymer, with two lines of Dryden, which comprehend his whole character as a poet:

He fagotted his notions as they fell,
And if they rhym'd and rattled, all was well.