1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Lisle

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 20:322-23.



WILLIAM LISLE, an English antiquary, was educated at Eton school, and admitted to King's-college, Cambridge, in 1584, where he took his degree of M.A. and became fellow, but quitted his fellowship on succeeding to an estate at Wilbraham, in Cambridgeshire. He was afterwards appointed one of the esquires extraordinary of the king's body, and died in 1637. No farther particulars of his life are upon record. He published A Saxon treatise concerning the Old and New Testament; written about the time of king Edgar, (700 years ago) by AeIfricus Abbas, thought to be the same that was afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, 1623, 4to. This was published by Mr. Lisle from a MS. in sir Robert Cotton's library. The copy before us has only this Treatise, but the volume is incomplete without A Testimony of Antiquity, shewing the ancient faith in the church of England, touching the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord; the Words of Oeilfric abbot of St. Alban's, &c. taken out of his epistles written to Wulfsine, bishop of Scyrburne; and The Lord's prayer, the creed, and ten commandments, in the Saxon and English tongue. The work is dedicated to prince Charles, afterwards Charles I. in a long copy of verses, "by way of eclogue, imitating the fourth of Virgile." To this is added a still longer preface, or address to the reader, containing some curious remarks on a variety of topics relating to Saxon literature, the Bible, the English language, &c. Mr. Lisle also published Du Bartas's Ark, Babylon, Colonies, and Columns, in French and English, 1637, 4to; and The Fair Aethiopian, 1631, 4to, a long poem of very indifferent merit. His reputation was founded on his skill in the Saxon tongue.