1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Aubrey

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 5:272-73.



John Aubrey, who was esteemed an able and industrious antiquary, was acquainted with most of the virtuosi in the reign of Charles II. He is said to have supplied Anthony Wood with a great part of the materials for both his books, and composed several curious and useful treatises himself, some of which remain unprinted in Ashmole's Museum. The most considerable of his manuscripts are his "Monumenta Britannica, or a Discourse concerning Stonehenge, and Roll Rich Stones, in Oxfordshire;" and his "Architectonica Sacra, or a Discourse concerning the Manner of our Church Buildings in England." His "Perambulation of the County of Surrey," which was begun in 1673, and ended in 1692, was published with large additions and improvements, by Dr. Rawlinson, in 1719, in five volumes octavo. His collections for a natural history and antiquities of Wiltshire, in which he made no great progress, are in the above mentioned repository. He had a stronger tincture of superstition than is commonly found in men of his parts and learning. In his "Miscellanies," among which are some things well worth the reader's notice, is a receipt against an evil tongue, which was formerly thought much worse than an evil eye. Ob. circ. 1700. A. Wood, whom he esteemed his friend, speaks of him as a pretender to antiquities, and as vain, credulous, and whimsical; he adds, that he was expensive to such a degree, as to be forced to sell his estate of £700 a year, and afterward to become a dependent on his friends for subsistence. There seems to be a tincture of gall in this censure of the Oxford antiquary. Mr. Gough, who mentions him with respect and honour, says, that he "first brought us acquainted with the earliest monuments on the face of the country, the remains of Druidism, and of Roman, Saxon, and Danish fortifications."