1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Warner

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 1:333-34.



WILLIAM WARNER having been born in Warwickshire, or, at least, descended from those of his name there, was for a time educated in this University, particularly, as it seems, in Madg. Hall, where he was observed to be more a Friend to Poetry, History and Romance, than Logic and Philosophy, departed without a Degree, retired to the great City, wrote several Specimens of Poetry, whereby his name was cried up among the Minor Poets; and at length, when Years came on, he wrote and published matters of greater Moment, that made him to be numbered among the Refiners of the English Tongue, which, "by his Pen, (as one living in the latter end of Q. Elizabeth saith [Francis Meres]) was much enriched and gorgeously invested in rare Ornaments and resplendent habiliments." As Euripides was the most sententious among the Greek Poets, so was this Warner among the English Poets; and as Homer and Virgil among the Greek and Latins were the chief Heroic Poets, so Edm. Spencer, and this our Warner, were esteemed by Scholars living in the Reign of Qu. Elizabeth our chief Heroical Makers. But since, such is the fate of Poets and Poetry, that Warner is esteemed by some Persons now or lately living [Edmund Phillips] only a good honest plain Writer of moral Rules and Precepts in that old fashioned kind of seven footed Verse, which yet is sometimes in use, tho' in a different manner, that is to say, divided into two: And tho' he was not reckoned equal with Sir Philip Sydney, M. Drayton, and S. Daniel, yet he was not inferiour to George Gascoigne, G. Turberville, Tho. Churchyard, Hen. Constable, Sir Edw. Dyer, &c. This Will. Warner hath written,

Albion's England, in 13 Books — These Books were printed at London at least twice, and one Edition, (the second I think) came out in 1606. (4 Jam. I.) of which I shall give this simile, that as Dec. Ansonius Gallus hath penn'd the Occurrences of the World from the first Creation of it to his time, that is, to the Reign of the Emporer Gratian, so our Warner, in this his absolute Book hath most admirably penn'd (so it was thought by Scholars living in Q. Elizabeth's Reign) the History of his own Country from Noah to his time, that is to the said Queen's Reign, when he was stiled by the best Wits of each University our English Homer, as Edm. Spencer was. In the Epistle to the Reader before the said Albion's England, the Author tells us that he hath written several Books in Prose, but such I have not yet seen. One W. W. whom I take to be Will. Warner, hath translated into English a Comedy written by Plautus called Menaechmi. Printed at Lond. 1595, in qu. and hath Englished other Comedies of the said Author, but none of them were published before the said Year, but this one.