1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Watson

Joseph Ritson, Bibliographia Poetica (1802) 387-38.



THOMAS WATSON compose'd, and, "at the request of certaine gentlemen his very frendes," publish'd, The [Hecatompathia], or passionate century of love: divided into two parts: whereof the first expresseth the authors sufferance in love: the latter, his long farewell to Love and all his tyrannie: printed by John Wolfe for Gabriel Cawood, without date, 4to. b. l. but license'd to Cawood in 1581, under the title of Watsons passions, manifesting the true frenzy of love. It contains 94 sonnets in Engleish, some originals, the rest translated or imitated from the Greek, Latin, Italian, and French, poets. [Note: Among the Harleian MSS. (No. 3277) in the museum, there is a fair copy of this work, with the following diversity of title: A looking-glass for loovers. Wherein are conteyned two sortes of amorous passions; the one expressing the trewe estate and perturbations of hym that is overgon with love; the other a flatt defyance to Love, and all his lawes. This MSS. contains only 78 sonnets, the orthography of which is much more antiquated than in the printed copy. T. P.] Prefix'd are verses to the authour by [sir] G. Bucke, T. Acheley, C. Downhal, M. Roydon, and G. Peele. An eclogue upon the death of the right honourable sir Francis Walsingham, late principall secretarie to her majestie, &c. written first in Latine by Thomas Watson gentleman, and now by himselfe translated into English: printed by Robert Robinson, 1590, 4to. [Author's note: Watson thus apologises for having become the translator of his own poem: "I interpret myself, lest MELIBAEUS in speaking English by another mans labour, should leefe my name in his chaunge, as my AMINTAS did." This may allude to Fraunces version in the Countess of Pembroke Yvychurch, who professes to have "somewhat altered S. Tassoes Italian, and M. Watsons Latine Amyntas, to make them both one English:" or it may refer to another translation of Watsons Amyntas, by J. T. intitled "An ould facioned love, or a love of the ould facion." In an address to the reader, before Vallanses Tale of the two swannes, 1590, M. Tho. Watsons Odes (Lat.) are quoted from, and an English translation of the passage is given by A. F. (Ab. Fraunce).] This rare publication is in the royal library. He also publish'd The first sett of Italian madrigalls englished, not to the sense of the original dittie, but after the affection of the noate: whereunto are annex'd 2 excellent madrigalls of M. Will. Byrds, composed after the Italian vaine, at the request of the sayd Thomas Watson: printed by Thomas Este, 1590, 4to. A few poems, by this authour, are inserted in The phoenix nest, 1593; in Englands Helicon, 1600; in Davisons Poetical rapsodie, 1611; and prefix'd to Whetstones Heptameron" 1582, are some verses by "T. W. esquier, in the commendation of the aucthour and his needefull booke." He was a native of London, spent some time at Oxford ("not," says Wood, "in logic and philosophy as was expected, but in the smooth and pleasant studies of poetry and romance"), afterwards study'd the common law, and dye'd before 1596. [Note: In Have with you, &c. Nash speaks of Watson as deceas'd in that year, and laments him as "a man that he dearly loved and honoured, and who for all things hath left few his equals in England." T. P.]