1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Daniel

John Payne Collier, "Delia" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 1:210-13.



This is the earliest edition of Daniel's Delia, but it may be doubted, for reasons hereafter assigned, whether it is the first impression of The complaint of Rosamond. At the back of the title-page (which is in an arabesque compartment) is a brief address "To the Reader," requesting him to correct in the Sonnets six errors of the press, which are pointed out. In the other impression of 1592 (the title-page of which is in an architectural compartment) these "faultes escaped in the printing" are rectified. The title-page of that second edition runs thus:—

"Delia. Containing certaine Sonnets: with the complaynt of Rosamond. Aetas prima canat veneres postrema tumultus. 1592. At London, Printed by J. C. for S. Watersonne." 4to.

We have been thus particular, because the two impressions of the work in 1592 differ very materially: for instance, the second of 1592 contains 54 sonnets, being four more than are in the first; and in the Bodleian Library there is a copy of an edition with the date of 1592, and with the Rosamond, as usual, appended, in which (besides the correction of several errors, and minor changes) no fewer than 23 stanzas of the Rosamond are omitted. The pagination is also different, and it seems clearly a distinct impression, which makes three in the same year, showing the great popularity of the work. The corrections prove that this edition at Oxford must have been subsequent to the others; and if so, why were the 23 stanzas of the Rosamond omitted, when they are found in the two other 4tos of 1592, and in the 12mo editions of 1594 and 1595?

Our notion is, that none of the earliest editions of Rosamond were printed at the same time as the Delia: the type is much coarser and thicker, and having first gone through the press, we apprehend that it was subsequently added to the sonnets inscribed to Delia. We are, however, aware of no extant separate edition of the Rosamond, and that which follows the Delia, in the Bodleian Library, must have been Daniel's original draught, before he added the twenty-three stanzas inserted in all the other copies, and forming an important part of the poem, although the sense is complete without them. As a specimen of the variations contained in the copy at Oxford, we may give the last line of a stanza not far from the end of the Rosamond, which in the two other impressions of 1592 runs thus: — "That overwhelms us or confounds us quite." In the Oxford copy, of 1592, it stands, — "Tongue, pen nor arte can never shew a right." That copy has also a manifest improvement in the very last stanza, which absurdly begins, in the other copies of the same year, — "So vanquisht she, and left me to returne;" instead of — "So vanisht she and left me to returne." It is remarkable that the blunder is repeated in the 12mo edition of 1594, while it is corrected in the 12mo edition of 1595. There is much that seems inexplicable in the early impressions of Daniel's poems, partly owing, perhaps, to the fastidiousness of the author, and to the changes he from time to time introduced.

No other perfect copy of the first edition of Delia (which also promises The Complaint of Rosamond on the title-page) is known but that now before us. It has been already observed, that, besides the correction of the errors of the press, the second edition, with the date of 1592, comprises four sonnets not in the first edition, and they are numbered respectively xxvii, xxviii, xxix (by mistake printed xxxi), and xxx: the other fifty sonnets are all in the first edition. The types are the same for both, but there are differences in the spelling: and, besides the mistakes pointed out in the errata, some valuable corrections are made in the second edition: in the first edition, for instance, in Sonnet x, Venus is called "Laughter-loving Gods," instead of Goddesse, which was afterwards substituted. Here and there emendations were adopted for the improvement of the metre, as in Sonnet xxxv, where the first edition defectively reads, — "And I, though borne in a colder clime," which the second edition alters to — "And I, though borne within a colder clime." Again, in Sonnet xliiii, the first edition has — "Deckt with her youth, whereon the world smyleth;" but the second restores the measure of the verse thus — "Deckt with her youth, whereon the world now smyleth."

It is very certain that some of Daniel's Sonnets had appeared in 1591, at the end of the surreptitious impression of Sir P. Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, edited by Thomas Nash. (See p. 42.) In fact, this forms Daniel's excuse for printing his Delia. In the dedication to the Countess of Pembroke, Daniel tells her, "Seeing I was betraide by the indiscretion of a greedy printer, and had some of my secrets bewraide to the world uncorrected, doubting the like of the rest, I am forced to publish that which I never ment;" and he adds that the same wrong had been done to Sidney, whom he designates as Astrophel. The "greedy printer" was Thomas Newman, who, not long before, had published the first and unauthorized impression of Sidney's poems.

Who Delia might be we have no information, but in the 48th sonnet of the collection named after her, we are told that she lived on Shakspeare's river:—

But Avon, rich in fame, though poor in waters,
Shall have my song, where Delia hath her seate:
Avon shall be my Thames, and she my Song;
Ile sound her name the Ryver all along.

The fact, first stated in the edition 12mo 1595, that the 44th Sonnet "was made at the Author's being in Italie," explains how it happened that he there speaks of Delia as residing in the North — "My joyfull North, where all my fortune lyes." However, in the very same series of Sonnets, Daniel avows his affection for another lady, whom he calls Cynthia, and who appears to have been very cruel for, in Sonnet 40, he says of her,—

Yet nought the rocke of that hard hart can move,
Where beate these tears which zeale and fury driveth;
And yet I rather languish in her love,
Then I would joy the fayrest she that liveth.

In the original, "which" is misprinted with in the second line, and the obvious error is not corrected in the later copy of 1592. From an author like Daniel it cannot be necessary to quote specimens, but we may point out a clear allusion to Spenser, and to his Fairy Queen, which has been noticed in the Life of Spenser, 8vo, 1862, p. ci: it is at the opening of Sonnet 46. The first three books of Spenser's work, in which, as Daniel says, were many "aged accents and untimely words," had been printed, as everybody is aware, in 1590.

It should be mentioned that in every edition, between the portion Daniel calls Delia, and The Complaint of Rosamond, is inserted "an ode," which was so popular as to be set to music in John Farmer's First set of English Madrigals, 1599.