1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Bolton

Thomas Warton, in History of English Poetry (1774-81; 1840) 3:231-32n.



Bolton's principal work now extant is Nero Caesar, or Monarchie depraved, an Historical Worke. Lond. 1624. fol. This scarce book, which is the life of that emperor, and is adorned with plates of many curious and valuable medals, is dedicated to George Duke of Buckingham, to whom Bolton seems to have been a retainer. (See Hearne's Lel. Collectan. vol. vi. p. 60. edit. 1770.) In it he supports a specious theory, that Stonehenge was a monument erected by the Britons to Boadicea, ch. xxv. At the end is his Historical Parallel, showing the difference between epitomes and just histories, "heretofore privately written to my good and noble friend Endymion Porter, one of the gentlemen of the Prince's chamber." He instances in the accounts given by Florus and Polybius of the battle between Hannibal and Scipio; observing, that generalities are not so interesting as facts and circumstances, and that Florus gives us "in proper words the flowers and tops of noble matter, but Polybius sets the things themselves, in all their necessary parts, before our eyes." He therefore concludes, "that all spacious mindes, attended with the felicities of means and leisure, will fly abridgements as bane." He published, however, an English version of Florus. He wrote the Life of the Emperor Tiberius, never printed. Ner. Caes. ut. supr. p. 82. He designed a General History of England. Hypercrit. p. 240. In the British Museum, there is the manuscript draught of a book entitled Agon Heroicus, or concerning arms and amories, by Edmund Bolton. MSS. Cott. Faustin. E. 1. 7. fol. 63. and in the same library, his Prosopopeia Basilica, a Latin Poem upon the translation of the body of Mary queen of Scots in 1612, from Peterborough to Westminster Abbey. MSS. Cott. Tit. A. 13.23. He compiled the Life of king Henry the Second for Speed's Chronicle: but Bolton being a catholic, and speaking too favourably of Becket, another Life was written by Dr. John Barcham, dean of Bocking. See The Surfeit to A. B. C. Lond. 12mo. 1656. p.22. Written by Dr. Henry King, author of poems in 1657, son of King bishop of London. Compare Hypercrit. p. 220. Another work in the walk of philological antiquity, was his Vindicae Britannicae, or London righted, &c. Never printed, but prepared for the press by the author. Among other ingenious paradoxes, the principal aim of this treatise is to prove, that London was a great and flourishing city in the time of Nero; and that consequently Julius Caesar's general description of all the British towns, in his Commentaries, is false and unjust. Hugh Howard, esquire, (see Gen. Dict. iii. 446.) had a fair manuscript of this book, very accurately written in a thin folio of forty-five pages. It is not when when or where he died. One Edmund Bolton, most probably the same, occurs as a CONVICTOR, that is, an independent member, of Trinity-college Oxford, under the year 1586. In Archiv. ibid. Wood MS. Notes, ut supr. supposed the Hypercritica to have been written about 1610. but our author himself (Hypercrit. p. 237.) mentions king James's Works published by bishop Montague. That edition is dated 1616.

A few particularities relating to this writer's Nero Caesar, and some other of his pieces, may be seen in Hearne's MSS. Coll. Vol. 50. p. 125. Vol. 132. p. 94. Vol. 52. pp. 171. 186. 192. See also Original Letters from Anstis to Hearne, MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Rawlins. I add, that Edmund Bolton has a Latin copy of recommendatory verses, in company with George Chapman, Hugh Holland, Donne, Selden, Beaumont, Fletcher, and others, prefixed to the old folio edition of Benjamin Jonson's Works in 1616.