1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Davies of Hereford

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 2:165-66.



John Davies, writing-master to Prince Henry, was, during his lifetime, at the head of his profession. He was a correct writer of the Roman, secretary, court, text, and mixed hands; and was much admired for his prodigious quickness in writing the running hand. He also wrote in so small a character, that it required a magnifying-glass to read it. Ob. circ. 1618. He was, after his death, exceeded in all the branches of his art by Gething, his scholar. The art of writing was little cultivated in England, before the reign of Elizabeth, who wrote a good hand; so did her tutor, Roger Ascham. Her father, Henry VIII. wrote a wretched scrawl, not unlike that which is called "the devil's hand-writing" in Ashmole's Museum. There is a good specimen of it in the first volume of Steven's Supplement to Dugdale's Monasticon. Dr. Burnet, in his letter from Rome, says, that he knew it, when he saw his love-letters to Anne Bolen in the Vatican Library. It is indeed so very singular, that he could not well mistake it, if he had ever seen it before. Lord Burleigh was one of the few that wrote a good hand in the reign of Elizabeth.