1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 185-86.



Sir William Davenant, may be accounted one of the Chiefest of Apollo's Sons, for the great Fluency of his Wit and Fancy: Especially his Gondibert, the Crown of all his other Writings; to which Mr. Hobbs of Malmsbury wrote a Preface, wherein he extolleth him to the Skyes; wherein no wonder (says one) if Compliment and Friendly Compliance do a little bias and over-sway Judgment. He also wrote a Poem entitled Madagascar, also a Farrago of his Juvenile, and other Miscellaneous Pieces: But his Chiefest matter was what he wrote for the English Stage, of which was four Comedies, viz. Love and Honour, The Man is the Master; The Platonick Lovers; and The Wits. Three Tragedies; Albovine, The Cruel Brother, and The unfortunate Lovers. Two Tragi-Comedies, the Just Italian; and the Lost Lady. And Six Masques, viz. Brittania Triumphans; The Cruelty of the Spaniards at Peru; Drakes History First Part; Siege of Rhodes in two Parts, and The Temple of Love; Besides his Musical Drama's, when the usual Playes were not suffered to be Acted, whereof he was the first Reviver and Improver by painted Scenes after his Majesties Restoration; erecting a new Company of Actors, under the Patronage of the Duke of York.

Now this our Poet, as he was a Wit himself, so did several of the Wits play upon him; amongst others Sir John Suckling in his Session of the Poets hath these Verses.

Will. Davenant asham'd of a Foolish mischance
That he had got lately Travelling into France;
Modestly hoped the Handsomeness of's Muse,
Might any Deformity bout him excuse.

And

Surely the Company would have been content,
If they could have found any President;
But in all their Records either in Verse or Prose,
There was not one Laureate without a Nose.

His Works since his Death have been fairly Published in a large Volume; to which I refer my Reader.