1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Lane

Nathan Drake, in Shakespeare and his Times (1817; 1838) 326.



There is one poet, however, whose memory has been preserved by Philips, and of whom, from the high character given of him by this critic, it may be necessary to say a few words; for the following eulogium on the compositions of this writer be not the result of a marked partiality, it should stimulate to an ardent enquiry after manuscripts so truly valuable.

"JOHN LANE, fine old Queen Elizabeth's gentleman, who was living within my remembrance, and whose several Poems, had they not had the ill fate to remain unpublisht, when much better meriting than many, that are in print, might possibly have gained him a name not much inferior, if not equal to Drayton, and others of the next rank to Spenser; but they are all to be produc't in manuscript, namely his Poetical Vision, his Alarm to the Poets, his Twelve Months, his Guy of Warwick, a Heroic Poem (at least as much as many others that are so entitled), and lastly his Supplement to Chaucer's Squire's Tale."

It has happened unfortunately for Lane, that the only specimen of his writings which has met the eye of a modern critic, has proved a source of disappointment. Warton, after recording that a copy of Lane's supplement to Chaucer existed in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, adds, "I conceived great expectations of him on reading Phillips's account. But I was greatly disappointed, for Lane's performance, upon perusal, proved to be not only an inartificial imitation of Chaucer's manner, but a weak effort of invention." This discovery, however, should not arrest all future research; for his four preceding poems, of which the latter two must necessarily, from their titles, be of considerable length, may yet warrant the decision of Phillips.