1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Middleton

John Payne Collier, in Poetical Decameron (1820) 1:100-101.



BOURNE. I only bring it [Mother Hubberds Tale] to your recollection for the sake of quoting the following curious passage in the address to the reader, prefixed to a scarce work, called The Ant and the Nightingale, or Father Hubbard's Tales, 4to. 1604. The author observes, "Why I call these Father Hubbard's Tales is not to have them called in againe as the Tales of Mother Hubbard; the world would shewe little judgement in that yfaith, and I should then plena stultorum omnia, for I entreat here neither of rugged beares, nor Apes; no nore the lamentable downefall of the olde wives platters. I deal with no such metall."

MORTON. What conclusion do you draw from that? That Spenser's Mother Hubbard's Tale was called in?

BOURNE. The probability is, that some other work was founded upon his title, and perhaps upon his plan, which being disapproved by the higher powers, was suppressed. Spenser's poem was printed in 1591, and then he said it had been "a raw conceit of his youth" — "long sithens composed."