1720 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Beaumont

Giles Jacob, in Historical Account of the Lives and Writings of our most considerable English Poets (1720) 7-8.



This Learned Person was King's Professor of Divinity, and Master of St. Peter's College in Cambridge. He has given the Publick an invaluable Work, intitled, PSYCHE or Loves Mystery, in Twenty-Four Cantos: Displaying the Intercourse betwixt Christ and the Soul. Folio.

The Occasion and Design of this celebrated Piece, the Author thus recites in his Preface, "The Turbulence of these Times having deprived me of my wonted Accommodations of Study, I deliberated, for the avoiding of meer Idleness, what Task I might safeliest presume upon, without the Society of Books: and concluded upon Composing this Poem. In which I endeavour to represent a Soul led by Divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel, (in fervent Devotion,) though the difficult Temptations and Assaults of Lust, of Pride, of Heresy, of Persecution, and of Spiritual Dereliction, to a holy and happy Departure from Temporal Life, to Heavenly Felicity: Displaying by the way, the Magnalia Christi, his Incarnation and Nativity, his Flight into Aegypt, his Fasting and Temptation, his chief Miracles, his being Sold and Betrayed, his Institution of the Holy Eucharist, his Passion, his Resurrection and Ascension; which were his mighty Testimonies of his Love to the Soul. My desire is, That this Book may prompt better Wits to believe, that a Divine Theme is as capable and happy a Subject of Poetical Ornament, as any Pagan or Human Device whatsoever. Which if I can obtain, and (into the Bargain,) Charm my Readers into any true Degree of Devotion, I shall be bold to hope that I have partly reached my proposed Mark, and not continued meerly Idle."

A Second Edition of this Poem, carefully Corrected throughout, by the Author, with the Addition of Four new Cantos never before Printed, was Publish'd at Cambridge, in the Year 1702, by his Son Charles Beaumont, M.A. Fellow of St. Peter's College, to which Society, he informs us; "his Father left by Will, all his Latin Works, both Critical and Polemical, which not having sufficient leisure, nor Health of Body, to revise and examine, according to his wonted Modesty, strictly forbad the Printing any of them. To this Edition, the Reverend Dr. Samuel Woodford, has prefixed a long and ingenious "Copy of Verses made in memory of the Deceas'd Author."