1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Geoffrey Whitney

Anonymous, in Retrospective Review 9 (1824) 126-27.



Geoffry Whitney, the earliest of our English emblematic writers, lived many years abroad, and published his Collection [Emblems] at Leyden, in 1586. The prints are distinguished by peculiar grace, and the poetry by its extreme simplicity.... We shall extract a few emblems from this rare book, not, however, on account of its rarity, but the intrinsic merit of the compositions. There is a freshness about the early writers of our country, not so much, however, in the thought itself, as in the simple manner in which it is conveyed; an almost child-like simplicity of expression, as appropriate as it is artless, which has an irresistible charm for us. Their's seems the language in which nature herself would unfold her beauties and her verities. It gives even the appearance of novelty, as well as strength and propriety to the thought, and never bears the marks of effort or constraint.