1894 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Heywood

Edmund Gosse, in The Jacobean Poets (1894) 119.



The remarks of Charles Lamb on Heywood are well known. "Heywood," says Elia, "is a sort of prose Shakespeare. His scenes are to the full as natural and affecting. But we miss the Poet, that which in Shakespeare always appears out and above the surface of the nature." Given thus in its amplification, the criticism, if still a little too enthusiastic, is sound and intelligible. But to speak casually of Heywood as a "prose Shakespeare" is to offer a stumbling block to the feet of inexperienced readers. It needs the imagination of a Lamb to divine the one aspect in which it is possible to read Shakespeare into Heywood.