1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Browne of Tavistock

John Payne Collier, "Britannia's Pastorals" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 1:113-15.



The above title is an engraved frontispiece of two Cupids supporting a scroll, and below it a shepherd and shepherdess. The dedication, to the Lord Zouch, Saint Maure, and Cantelupe, is without date, but the address "to the Reader" is "From the Inner Temple, June the 18. 1613," and here Browne speaks of this work as "the first bloomes of his Poesie." Latin and English commendatory verses by "I. Selden Iuris. C.," Michael Drayton, Edward Heyward, Christopher Brooke, Fr. Dynne, Tho. Gardiner, W. Ferrar, and Fr. Oulde, introduce the five songs of which the first part of Britannia's Pastorals consists. "The second book" has a new title-page: Britannia's Pastorals. The second Booke: Horat. Carmine Dii superi placantur, carmine Manes. London Printed by Thomas Snodham for George Norton &c. 1616. This has a distinct dedication to the Earl of Pembroke, and laudatory Latin and English verses by John Glanvill; Tho. Wenman; W. Herbert; John Davies, of Heref; Carolus Croke; Unton Croke; Anth: Vincent; John Morgan; Thomas Heygate; Augustus Caesar; G. Wither; W. B. and Ben Jonson. The second book, also, consists of five songs, or pastorals. The latter part of the first song contains Browne's beautiful and grateful tribute to Spenser:

—all their pipes were still,
And Cohn Clout began to tune his quill
With such deep art, that every one was given
To think Apollo (newly slid from heaven)
Had tane a human shape to win his love,
Or with the westerne Swains for glory strove.
He sung th' heroicke Knights of Faiery Land
In lines so elegant, of such command,
That had the Thracian play'd but half so well
He had not left Eurydice in hell.
But ere he ended his melodious song,
An host of Angels flew the clouds among,
And rapt this Swan from his attentive mates
To make him one of their associates
In heavens fair Quire, where now he sings the praise
Of him that is the first and last of days.
Divinest Spencer! heaven-bred, happy muse!
Would any power into my brain infuse
Thy worth, or all that poets had before,
I could not praise 'till thou deserv'st no more.

In the second song of Book II., Browne introduces laudatory notices of George Chapman, Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson, Samuel Daniel, Christopher Brooke, John Davies, and George Wither. With the latter, as has been already noticed, (see p. 95,) he wrote The Shepherds Pipe: in fact, when it was reprinted in 1620, 8vo, it was included among The Workes of Master George Wither, the volume being introduced by Wither's" Satire to the King," and his "Epithalamia," and followed by his "Shepherds Hunting," "Fidelia," &c. Britannia's Pastorals were again printed in 8vo in 1623 and 1625.