1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Scott

Thomas Park, "Scott's Phylomythie, or Philomythologie" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 381-86.



Phylomythie, or Philomythologie: wherein Outlandish Buds, Beasts, and Fishes, are taught to speake true English plainely. By Tho. Scott, Gent. "Philomethus est allquo modo philosophus: fabula enim exmiris constituitur." The Second Edition much inlarged. London, for Francis constable, at the White Lyon in Paule's Church-yard. 1622.

An earlier edition of this book was published in 1616, and a later in 1640. "A Praemonition to the intelligent reader" follows the title: and on the next leaf "Sarcasmos Mundo, or the Frontispiece explained;" which frontispiece is very neatly engraved by R. Elstracke; and comprizes birds, beasts, and fishes, in different compartments, surmounted by two figures surveying the opposite sides of a sphere, intended, it seems, to designate Aesop and a fictitious American philosopher. Yet the Grangerians choose to consider the former as a portrait of the author, in opposition to the testimony of the author himself, who has printed "a supply of the description of Monsr. Pandorsus Waldolynnatus, that merry American philosopher, or the wise man of the new world; being antipode to Aesop, placed with him as parallel in the front," &c.

As the East and West are opposite, so stand
These wise men in the front on either hand;
Aesop well known, an Eastern witty thing,
But our Pandorsus' Western fame I sing.

To the edition of 1622 is prefixed a metrical address "to the over-wise, over-wilfull, overcurious, or overcaptious readers;" from which it appears, that under the figure of animals he had been understood to libel professions, and vent his private spleen against individuals. Hence he says,

Aesop must make no lyons roar, nor eagles
Shriek loud, nor wolves ravine, nor swift beagles
Yelp with their slavering lips after the fox;
Nor must he meddle with the ass or ox;
For feare some quirle be found, to prove he meant
Under those shapes a private spleen to vent.
If Spencer now were living, to report
His Mother Hubbert's tale, there would be sport,
To see him in a blanket tost, and mounted
Up to the stars, and yet no star accounted, &c.

The poems themselves, which are of an obscure satirical cast, are veiled under the following titles:

1. Ibis. Dedicated to the religious knight Sir Edmund Mondeford, and his Lady, a true lover of learning.

2. Venaticum Iter. Dedicated to the example of Temperance, Sir Henry Bedingfield, Knt. and to his Lady, the example of Love.

3. Gryps. Dedicated to the courtly and accomplisht Knight, Sir Henry Rich, and his most equal Lady.

4. Sphinx. Hyena. Dedicated to the wise and valiant souldier Sir John Pooly, Knt. and his good Lady.

5. Hippopotamus. Dedicated to the magnificent Knt. Sir Hugh Smith and his worthy Lady.

6. Phoenix. Dedicated to the honorable Knt. Sir Robt. Riche, and his noble Lady.

7. Unio. Dedicated to the true lover of his country Sir Arthur Heveningham Knt. and his truly religious Lady.

8. Struthiocamelus. Dedicated to the vertuous Knt. Sir John Heveningham, and his charitable Lady.

9. Onocratalus. Dedicated to the right hopeful Knt. Sir Thomas Southwell.

10. The Asse. Dedicated to the learned and judicious Knt. Sir Hamond Le Strange.

11. Curiale. Dedicated to the good acceptance of Master Floyde, Admiral to the Queen's Magistie, and her Counsel.

12. Solarium. Dedicated to the absolute and open enemies of ignorance and darkness, and the true lovers and followers of light and knowledge, Sir John Crofts and his happy Lady.

[Note by Samuel Egerton Brydges: By these dedications principally to Suffolk and Norfolk gentry, it is probable the author belonged to one of those counties. Editor.]

A second title-page now follows, thus inscribed:

"Certaine Pieces of this age parabolized. viz 1. Duellum Britannicum. 2. Regalis Justitia Jacobi, 3. Aquignispicium. 4. Antidotum Cecillianum. By Thomas Scot, Gentleman. 'Scire tuum nihil est.' London. Printed for Francis Constable, 1616."

The first of these parabolisations is dedicated to the eternall memorie of that admirable combat performed by two valorous knights, Sir Robert Mansell, appellant, and Sir John Haydon, defendant, where both equally expressing fortitude and skill, in giving and receiving wounds, scaped death notwithstanding, by the only favour of Providence. This poem memorizes a duel between Sir Geo. Wharton and James Stewart, Esq. in which both parties fell, Anno 1609.

Justitia Jacobi is dedicated to the grave, reverend, and judicious knight, Sir Robt. Gardiner, sometime Lord Justice of Ireland. This poem commemorates the equitable decision of King James in condemning Lord Sanquhar to death for the hired assassination of Turner, a fencing-master.

Aquignispicium is dedicated to the free and bountiful housekeeper, Sir Le Strange Mordant, Knt. Bart. This poem has reference to the Armada, Powder Plot, burning of Newmarket, &c.

Antidotum Cecillianum: dedicated to the Commonwealth, and to the honour of the illustrious family of the Cecils, one of whom is thus panegyrized.

O Cecill! lov'd of God, good men, the King;
Borne up, not by stolne imps, or borrowed plumes,
Which lets them fall, who with high flight Presumes
Neare the sun's scorching beames: thy native worth,
Vertue and active knowledge, set thee forth
This kingdomes pilot, where no storme or stresse
Could make thee lose thy compass, or expresse
A show of doubt; but firmly guide our state
As th'adst been ruler both of chance and fate.

Next follow Satyra Aulica, dedicated to the right worthy Henry Doile, Esq.

An Irish Banquet, or the Mayor's feast of Youghall: a satire hid under the mask of mythology.

A concluding apology "to all those knights, ladies, and gentlemen, to whom his dedications were made:" excusing himself from not having placed them in their due ranks of precedence, from being no herald.

A third title now presents itself, which announces

"The Second Part of Philomythie or Philomythologie. Containing Certaine Tales of true libertie, false friendship, power united, faction and ambition. By Thomas Scot, Gent. London. Printed by John Legatt for Francis Constable. 1623."

These are also dark parables or allegoric satires, and appear thus inscribed:

Monarchia. To all the worthy professors of the Law, who make not private wealth, but the good and peace of the commonwealth the end of their studies and practice.

The Cony-burrow. To the lovers of worth, and friends of vertue, who follow truth with a single heart, and speake it with a single tongue.

The House of Fame. To all the noble attendants of royaltie in the camp of vertue, who fight for the honour of the church and commonwealth. Satellitium. To all that stand sentinell, that watch and ward in defence of this kingdome, especially to the strength dod guard of the state.

The following favourable specimen is taken from the opening of Satellitium.

Who guarded round about with Parthian bows,
Or Spanish pikes, or hedg'd and dib'd with row
Of sturdy Janisaries or the' shot
Of hardy switzers, or the valiant Scot;
And, after these, with walls of steel and brass
Hem'd in so close, that scarce the air may pass
Betwixt the cliffs — is not so free from doubt,
As is that King whom love doth guard about;
Whom subjects' love doth guard, because that he
Guards them from all oppression, and makes free
His noble favourers to desert and worth,
Spreading his valiant vertues frankly forth,
That both his own may find, and neighbours know
What glorious fruit doth from religion grow;
How sweet an odour justice sends to heaven,
How rare example is to princes given,
By vertuous deeds to stop the mouths of those,
Who, unreform'd, are reformation's foes.

From the great disparity of merit between this and the preceding article, there is little reason to suppose them by the same author, though they bear the same name. T. P.