1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Whetstone

John Payne Collier, in Poetical Decameron (1820) 1:61-62, 64.



BOURNE. He seems to have made it a rule, when any person of note died, to court the relatives by some condoling verses.

ELLIOT. Did not Spenser do the same?

MORTON. I beg your pardon: he has pieces of the kind; but one was upon the death of the wife of his particular friend, Sir. A. Gorges, and the other on the fatal calamity which befell his early patron and friend, Sir. P. Sidney. They both had claims upon him.

BOURNE. They are not to be ranked with Whetstone's productions, either in point of motive or execution; the latter are, however, very scarce; and in the only one I have seen (except that, reprinted, upon Gascoyne) he speaks, in an address to the reader, of his "former readiness in exposing the lives of many worthy personages." This is upon the same subject as one of Spenser's effusions — the untimely death of Sir. P. Sidney — and I made an extract or two from it: it is entitled, Sir Philip Sidney, his honourable life, his valiant death and true virtues. A perfect Myrror for the followers of Mars and Mercury. It is dedicated by Whetstone (or, as he signs himself, with the usual careless of the time, Whetstones) "to his especial good Lord and Maister the Earl of Warwick"....

BOURNE. But setting aside the question of its merits, or demerits, this piece by Whetstone is peculiarly worth notice on one account, and it is this — that as late as the year 1587 (for it could not well have been printed earlier, as Sir Philip Sidney did not die until 1586) it was not only not universally known that Spenser was the author of the Shepherd's Calendar, but Whetstone, who must have been conversant with the writers of his day, actually asserts that it was "the reputed work of Sir Philip Sidney."