1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Warner

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 67-68.



William Warner, one of principal esteem in his time, was chiefly famous for his Albion's England, which he wrote in the old-fashioned kind of seven-footed Verse, which yet sometimes is in use, though in different manner, that is to say, divided into two: He wrote also several Books in prose, as he himself witnesseth in his Epistle to the Reader, but (as we said before) his Albion's England was the chiefest,which he deduced from the time of Noah, beginning thus:

I tell of things done long ago, of many things in few:
And chiefly of this Clime of ours, the accidents pursue.
Thou high director of the fame, assist mine artless Pen,
To write the Jests of Brutons stout, and Arts of English-men.

From thence he proceeds to the peopling of the Earth by the Sons of Noah, intermixing therein much variety of Matter, not only pleasant, but profitable for the Readers understanding of what was delivered by the ancient Poets, bringing his Matter succinctly to the coming of Brute into this Island; and so, coming down along the chiefest matters, touched of our British Historians, to the Conquest of England by Duke William, and from him the Affairs of the Land to the beginning of Queen Elizabeth; where he concludeth thus,

Elizabeth by peace, be ware, for majesty, for mild,
Enrich'd, fear'd, honour'd, lov'd, but (loe) unreconcil'd,
The Muses check my saucy Pen, for enterprising her,
In duly praising whom, themselves, even Arts themselves might err.
Phoebus I am, not Phaeton, presumptuously to ask
What, shouldst thou give, I could not guide;
guide, give not me thy task,
For, as thou art Apollo too, our mighty subjects threats
A non plus to thy double power: Vel volo, vel nollem.

I might add several more of his verses, to shew the worth of his Pen, but the Book being indifferent common, having received several Impressions, I shall refer the Reader, for his further satisfaction, to the Book itself.