1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Davison

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Censura Literaria 1 (1805) 105-06.



This perhaps most valuable of our early metrical miscellanies [Poetical Rapsodie] (the rare occurrence of which can alone account for the little use which has been made of it by our republishers of early English poetry,) was first printed in 1602; and passed through three successive editions in 1608, 1611, and 1621. The principal contributor appears to have been the avowed editor, Francis Davison, son of that unfortunate Secretary of State, who suffered so much from the affair of Mary Queen of Scots. Being a poet himself, he was more ably qualified for the delicate task of selecting from his contemporaries, than Bodenham, the compiler of England's Helicon, in 1600; though his publisher, like some modern purveyors of literature, seems to have slighted the judgment and taste of an editor, for the purpose of making a bulkier book. This we gather from the preface, which, as it contains a casual notice of Walter Davison, the natural and poetical brother to Francis, and as it is written in a strain of animated defiance to the hypercritics of that period, is here transcribed.