1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Vallans

Thomas Park, in Restituta or ... English Literature Revived 4 (1816) 444-7.



This [A Tale of Two Swannes] was reprinted by Hearne from a copy supplied out of the study of Tho. Rawlinson, in the fifth volume of Leland's Itinerary, and will therefore call for a very slight report: but the poem has much of interesting curiosity from its topographical character, and is not without some merit....

Scott, in his sweetly-descriptive poem of Amwell, introduces a similar notion from Smollett's History of England to that which Vallans had done from our ancient chroniclers; and relates that the vessels of the Danes were left on dry ground, near Hertford, by Alfred's having turned the river Lee into new channels. But Scott had never met with the production of Vallans, or it would have afforded further local illustration to his own ingenious poem.

Vallans, in an address to the reader, expresses a wish that he could animate or encourage those worthy poets who have written Epithalamion Thamesis, to publish the same. This seems to allude to a poem of Spenser's, under that title, which never appeared; but of which he thus spoke in 1570, in a letter to Gabriel Harvey: "I mynde shortly, at convenient leysure, to sette forthe a booke, whyche I entitle Epithalamion Thamesis, whych booke (I dare undertake) wil be very profitable for the knowledge, and rare for the invention and manner of handling: for in setting forth the marriage of the Thames, I shewe his first beginning and offspring, and all the country that he passeth through, and also describe all the rivers throughout Englande, whyche came to this wedding," &c. The recovery of this poem would be a prize. Vallans speaks of another on the same subject written in Latin verse, which was well done, but which the unnamed author still suppressed. In 1600 an English poem of a loosely descriptive kind was published under the title of Thameseidos, by E. W. in three books or cantos; but this was a posterior production to the present. Vallans, it may be added, has commendatory lines before Wharton's Dreame, 1578.