1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Whetstone

Isaac Reed, in Biographia Dramatica; or, A Companion to the Playhouse (1782) 1:468-69.



GEORGE WHETSTONE is an author of whom very little is known. From the circumstance of his being a kinsman to serjeant Fleetwood, recorder of London, it is probable that he was of a good family. It appears that he first tried his fortune at court, where he consumed his patrimony in fruitless expectation of preferment. Being now destitute of subsistence, he commenced soldier and served abroad, though in what capacity is unknown. Such, however, was his gallant behaviour, that his services were rewarded with additional pay. He returned from the wars with honour, but with little profit, and his prospect of advancement was so small, that he determined to convert his sword into a plough-share. He therefore turned farmer, and being unsuccessful in that undertaking, as most gentlemen are, was under the necessity of applying to the generosity of his friends. This he found to be "a broken reed, and worse than common beggary of charity from strangers. Now craft accosted him in his sleep, and tempted him with the proposals of several professions; but for the knavery or slavery of them, he rejected all: his munificence constrained him to love money, and his magnanimity to hate all the ways of getting it." At last he resolved to seek his fortune at sea, and accordingly embarked with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in the expedition to Newfoundland, which was rendered unsuccessful by an engagement with the Spanish fleet. From this period, Mr. Whetstone seems to have depended entirely on his pen for subsistence. Where or when he died I am totally ignorant. He was the author of

Promos and Cassandra. C. 4to. 1578.