1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gervase Markham

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 1:268-70.



GERVASE MARKHAM, gentleman who lived in the reign of Charles I. for whom he took up arms in the time of the rebellion, being honoured by his Majesty with a captain's commission. He was the son of Robert Markham, of Cotham in the county of Nottingham, Esq, and was famous for his numerous volumes of husbandry, and horsemanship: besides what he has wrote on rural recreations and military discipline, he understood both the practice and theory of war, and was esteemed an excellent linguist, being master of the French, Italian, and Spanish languages, from all which he collected observations on husbandry. One piece of dramatic poetry which he has published, says Mr. Langbaine, will shew, that he sacrificed to Apollo and the Muses, as well as Mars and Pallas. This play is extant under the title of Herod and Antipater, a tragedy, printed 4to, 1622; when or where this play was acted, Mr. Langbaine cannot determine for, says he, the imperfection of my copy hinders my information; for the foundation, it is built on history: See Josephus. Mr. Langbaine then proceeds to enumerate his other works, which he says, are famous over all England; of these he has wrote a discourse of Horsemanship, printed 4to. without date, and dedicated to Prince Henry, eldest son to King James I. Cure of all Diseases incident to Horses, 4to. 1610. English Farrier, 4to. 1649. Master-piece, 4to. 1662. Faithful Farrier, 8vo. 1667. Perfect Horsemanship, 12mo. 1671. In Husbandry he published Libault's le Maison Rustique, or the Country Farm, folio, Lond. 1616. This Treatise, which was at first translated by Mr. Richard Surfleit, a Physician, our author enlarged with several additions from the French books of Serris and Vinet, the Spanish of Albiterio and the Italian of Grilli and others. The Art of Husbandry, first translated from the Latin of Cour. Heresbachiso by Barnaby Googe, he revived and augmented, 4to. 1631. He wrote besides, Farewell to Husbandry, 4to. 1620. Way to get wealth, wherein is comprised his Country Contentments, printed 4to. 1668. To this is added, Hunger's Prevention, or the Art of Fowling, 8vo. His Epitome, 12mo. &c. — In Military Discipline he has published the Soldier's Accidence and Grammar, 4to. 1635. Besides these the second book of the first part of the English Arcadia is said to be wrote by him, in so much that he may be accounted, says Langbaine, "if not Unus in omnibus, at least a benefactor to the public, by those works he left behind him, which without doubt perpetuate his memory." Langbaine is lavish in his praise, and not altogether undeservedly. To have lived a military life, which too often engages its professors in a dissipated course of pleasure, and at the same time, make himself master of such a variety of knowledge, and yield so much application to study, entitles him to hold some rank in literature. In poetry he has no name, perhaps because he did not apply himself to it; so true is the observation that a great poet is seldom any thing else. Poetry engages all the powers of the mind, and when we consider how difficult it is to acquire a name in a profession which demands so many requisites, it will not appear strange that the sons of Apollo should seldom be found to yield sufficient attention to any other excellence, so as to possess it in an equal degree.