1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nicholas Breton

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 6:491-92.



NICHOLAS BRETON, "a writer," says Phillips, "of pastorals, sonnets, canzons, and madrigals, in which kind of writing he keeps company with several other contemporary emulators of Spenser and sir Philip Sidney," flourished in the reign of queen Elizabeth, but very little is known of his personal history. Sir Egerton Brydges produces very probable evidence that he was of a Staffordshire family. He was a writer, says Dr. Percy, of some fame in the above reign, and published an interlude entitled "An Old Man's Lesson, and a Young Man's Love," 4to, and many other little pieces in prose and verse, the titles of which may be seen in Winstanley, Ames's Typography, and Osborn's Harleian Catalogue. He is mentioned with great respect by Meres in his second part of Wit's Commonwealth, 1598, p. 283, and is alluded to in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, act 2, and again in Wit without money, act 3. The ballad of Phillis and Corydon, reprinted by Percy, is a delicious little poem; and if we may judge from this and other specimens given in our references, his poetical powers were distinguished by a simplicity at once easy and elegant.