1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Raleigh

Samuel Egerton Brydges and Joseph Haslewood, in British Bibliographer 3 (1812) xiii-iv.



Ignoto; [viz. Sir Walter Raleigh.] This signature appears to have been generally [in England's Helicon], though not exclusively, subscribed to the pieces of Sir Walter Raleigh. It is also subscribed to one piece, since appropriated to Shakspeare; and to one, which according to Ellis, belongs to Richard Barnfield. The celebrated Answer to Marlow's "Come live with me," here subscribed to IGNOTO, is given expressly to Raleigh by Isaac Walton, in his "Compleat Angler," first published 1653; in which they are called "old fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age." To this poem of Raleigh, the signature of Ignoto has been pasted over the initial W. R. as it has been to one at least, if not to two more pieces. Mr. PARK doubts whether this may not have arisen from the Editor's finding these pieces to have been erroneously appropriated; or from having learned that the authors would be offended at the disclosure of their names. The testimony of Walton as to Raleigh seems to me to make the latter most probable. Most of the pieces with the signature of Ignoto I think bear internal marks of Raleigh's composition. There is, in the Nimph's Reply to Marlow's Passionate Shepherd, beginning

If all the world and love were young,

so much of Raleigh's sententiousness and acute reflections on the frailty of human pleasures, that it speaks in strong terms the mind from which it issued. The second Answer, which follows the first, beginning

Come live with me and be my dear,

is more in the style of the original, with less intermixture of that moral cast, which characterizes Raleigh.

Raleigh was born at Hayes Farm, Co. Devon, in 1552, and lost his head in Palace-Yard, Westminster, 1618.