1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Davies

Joseph Ritson, Bibliographia Poetica (1802) 181-83 & n.



SIR JOHN DAVIES, born in 1570, at Chirgrove, in Wiltshire, wrote 1. O utinam. 1. For queene Elizabeths securitie, 2. For her subjects properitie, 3. For a generall conformitie, 4. And for Englands tranquilitie: printed by R. Yardley and P. Short for J. Pennie, 1591, 16mo. [Mr. Park thinks "this should be consigned over to Davies of Hereford, or to any other Davies rather than for John." Herbert, however, who had the book, expressly asserts that this John Davies was The Welsh poet, author of Nosce Teipsum (p. 1364). | Mr. Ritsons comment on my remark invites me to discuss this knotty point a little more fully. — Herberts copy of O UTINAM i purchased from his nephew: and i found that the vague information, conveyed in his Typographical antiquities, was derived from a MS. addition to the name of the author, which called him "the Welshe poet." In another place he was called, by the same note-maker, "poet laureat." But was sir John Davies ever styled "the Welsh poet?" or was either of the poetical Davieses, poet laureat? What then becomes of Herberts authorised assertion? The production itself is not worth a moments attention. It consists of a fulsome sermonical address to the people; an indecent prayer for the queen; &c. and closes with 7 six-line stanzas which are only remarkable for their demerit. T. P. | However unworthy these poems may be of sir John Davies, there is no other poet or poetaster of that name to whom they can be more certainly ascribe'd. Herbert, or his MS. authority, was clearly wrong in calling him "The Welsh poet;" the surname, however, is Welsh, and so might his family have been. J. R.] 2. Epigrams: printed (along with Ovids elegies, by Marlow) at Middleburg about 1596, 8vo. 3. Nosce teipsum. This oracle expounded in two elegies. 1. Of humane knowledge. 2. Of the soule of man, and the immortalitie thereof: printed by R. Field for J. Standick, 1599, 4to. 4. Hymns of Astraea, in acrostick verse: 1599, 4to. 5. Orchestra, or a poeme of dauncing: printed by J. Roberts, 1596, 8vo. (licensed to J. Harrison, in 1598). 6. Reasons moan, in eleven stanzas, at the end of Reasons academy, 1620, 8vo. Other pieces, frequently ascribe'd to sir John Davies, belong, in fact, to John Davies of Hereford, writing-master, authour of The scourge of folly, [1611,] &c. &c. who does not appear to have publish'd any thing before the year 1600. I. D. the initials, it is presume'd, of sir John Davies, are annex'd to two commendatory sonnets prefix'd to Chapmans Ovids banquet of sence, 1595; and to certain poems in Englands Helicon, 1600, and Davisons Poetical rapsodie, 1608. "Sir John Davies," according to Jonson, "played on Drayton in an epigram, who in his sonnet concluded his mistress might have been the ninth worthy, and said, he used a phrase like Dametas in [the] Arcadia, who said, his mistris, for wit, might be a giant." Phillips remembers to have seen from the hands of the countess [Note: of Huntingdon, his daughter] a judicious metaphrase of several of Davids psalms. He was, for some time, attorney-general of Ireland, was knighted in 1607, and dye'd in 1626, aged 57.