1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Puttenham

Octavius Graham Gilchrist, in "The Arte of English Poesie" Censura Literaria 1 (1805) 339.



This is on many accounts one of the most curious and entertaining, and intrinsically, one of the most valuable books of the age of Elizabeth. In the third volume of his History of English Poetry, Warton has given an elaborate account of Wilson's Arte of Rhetoricke, printed in 1553, and in the Second Number of Oldys's British Librarian is a brief analysis of Webbe's Discourse of English Poetrie, printed in 1586. Although the volume before us was printed subsequent to either of these it bears testimony of having been composed many years before it went to press, and was probably written, in part, when the earliest of the above volumes appeared; to which, as an elementary treatise on the arts, it is infinitely superior, as being formed on a more comprehensive scale and illustrated by examples, while the copious intermixture of contemporary anecdote, tradition, manners, opinions, and the numerous specimens of coeval poetry no where else preserved, contribute to form a volume of infinite amusement, curiosity, and value.